Live Review: The Hara, Highbury Garage, 7.4.2022

Words: Andrea Naess

“The Hara’s goal is to be a role model for people that don’t fit in, a topic they regularly talk about.”

It’s a typical grey Thursday in London, which is soon to be changed for a more interesting plot twist with the Manchester-based pop punk band The Hara. They have come all the way from the north of the country, to join us in the venue The Garage for a rock fiesta, and you can just feel the anticipation in the air as we are approaching the hipster area Islington. As LDN arrives, we see a lot of people queuing outside dressed up with mostly dark colours, piercings, and bright hair colours.

As we enter, we hear the crowd scream phrases like ‘ACAB’, ‘fuck Nazis’ and all that good stuff as they are gathering closer to the stage. You can feel by the atmosphere that they are über-ready for some good music tonight.

The first warm-up singer Eddie Jones is accompanied by the guitarist Dan Porter. During his first song ‘Roar’ we notice that this guy has a very strong and beautiful voice. However, this is not quite what we expect genre-wise considering what band they are supporting. Jones’ style is pop/club-y and during the song ‘I do’, it’s like being taken 10 years back in time to a club where they play the newest Ne-Yo or Usher song. “Let’s get married in the club – I do, I do, I do”, sings Jones. His clothes and style are reminiscent of Justin Bieber, and very different from the rest of the crowd, which has a more emo and punk style. 

Jones continues to the next, more ´romantic’ song, as he describes it, ‘I Found You’. Jones makes good eye-contact with the audience during this and has a great stage presence. But I start wondering – is it a backing track that we hear? Because suddenly there’s a lot of other instruments than the visible guitar. Yes, it’s playback… [sighs]. And Jones continues to get the crowd hyped by shouting “are you ready for a f***ing drum solo!”, however the alleged ´drum solo´ is strictly coming from his computer, and that makes this reviewer cringe a little bit. Good try, though.  

As he continues to his fourth song, which is described by him as a more upbeat, happy song, the spirit in the crowd gets enhanced. There’s a great lightshow going on with green and purple, and great energy. For his last song, ‘Runaway’, he introduces by saying it’s more rock vibes to it, but frankly that can be discussed [nervous laughter]. It’s certainly something, I don’t know if we could call it rock necessarily. The song gives a feeling of Adam Lambert, and the computer drumroll makes a return once again. All in all, great singer – just the wrong crowd. 

The next support act for this evening is the artist Jason Allan, with band. They consist of Allan, the lead singer, bassist Tom Hickey, drummer James Neild and guitarist Jim White. Already by the time they enter the stage you can tell this is more what you would expect from a warm-up band for a band like The Hara. They enter the stage with loads of energy. Jason Allan screams in the mic how good it is to be back playing live and judging by the crowd they seem to agree. Allan is wearing a dark jumpsuit, and his hair is bright and in a bowl cut. He looks like the perfect straight-out-of-the-magazine hipster. The others have black T-shirts and lots of tattoos.

Jason Allen eyeing up the bottles of wine at the bar – Photo: Dani Willgress

The first song ‘Heal´ sounds romantic with the lyrics: “you were mine and I was yours”, and you can really see the great stage presence in all of them. We notice that it seems like Allan has a great connection with the other band members since he keeps hugging and smiling at them, which really warms the heart of this reviewer. After a couple of mellow songs, some more upbeat than others we are at ‘Same’ where the lead singer suddenly shouts in the mic “It’s that time of the night – spread the f out right now! Come on!” and we think to ourselves ‘what is about to happen now?’, then he proceeds to go down to the floor himself and starts a big mosh pit. Excellent.

There’s a little break between Allan and the headliner, where people are buying drinks and by this time the crowd has gotten bigger and therefore sweatier, (as it should) a rock gig. 

When The Hara finally enters the stage, they enter with a bang! We see people holding up signs with messages to their favourite band and lots of fans are trying to get as close as possible to their idols. 

Josh Tyler has the crowd in the palm of his hand – Photo: Dani Willgress

The Hara consists of the very energic vocalist Josh Taylor, the great drummer Jack Kennedy, and the fabulous guitarist Zackary George Breen. The band is famous for experimenting with different clothes and isn’t afraid to take risks. For them, clothes are non-binary, so you can see them wear anything from a leather jacket to a skirt – which we in LDN appreciate. 

The Hara – They all wear black. Photo: Dani Willgress

Their goal is to be a role model for people that don’t fit in, a topic they regularly talk about. They have received great responses lately and managed to be included in the official UK charts, one of them being the official rock and metal charts, which we think is very impressive. 

During their first song ‘Black Soul Ceremony’ we hear a lot of people screaming when they recognise the song. It has a very identifiable and catchy guitar riff, which really sticks in your brain, and the crowd are humming together with the guitar. The light show has now switched to colours more warm-dominated ones. We see a lot of nodding heads, phones in the air and good vibes, as Taylor sings “Welcome to the black soul ceremony”. Then he bows in a theatrical way, and with those words and that bow it’s a perfect opener for the rest of the show. This reviewer notices that Taylor does a lot of cool hand gestures, like the ´Jack Sparrow´ character from ‘The Pirates Of Caribbean’. 

Josh channelling his inner pirate – Photo: Dani Willgress

During ‘Circus’, we hear a lovely guitar solo by Zack, as Josh hugs him from behind and it’s a great moment. The next song ‘Until It Happens’, we see the frontman climbing on the side-stairs and you kind of start to get scared if he’s going to fall, but luckily, he doesn’t. But this stunt only adds to his edginess. ‘Until It Happens’ has a great build up with Josh Taylor wearing a blanket on his head, then ripping it off and starts singing. The song is chaotic-cool and very refreshing. It sounds like nothing else we’ve heard.

Josh Tyler scaling the venue rigging – Photo: Dani Willgress

The band continues to impress the reviewer, with banger after banger and several mosh pits, and at some point, the wholehearted frontman crowd surfs too. Great energy, lively and enthusiastic describes this phenomenal band which LDN gladly would like to see again at some point. We are left with a lot of inspiration, and a feeling of acceptance for being different as we leave The Garage, thanks to the great bands we saw tonight. 

Jack smashing the hell out of his drum kit. Photo: Dani Willgress