in performance: mic harrison and the high score


mic harrison. photo by annie clark rankin.

The clock was closing in on midnight at the Green Lantern as the crowd dwindled down to a small handful of patrons. Even the evening’s headliner admitted this was the latest start time he had been given for one of his shows in about four years.

But Mic Harrison and his longrunning Knoxville band The High Score carried on last night as though they were basking in prime time. Their show was fueled by a fine catalogue of elemental original tunes with a high garage rock quotient and a stylistic reach that stretched from honky tonk to surprisingly immediate post-punk jaunts. But Harrison put one in the win column with his stage demeanor alone. Despite the miniscule turnout and the late hour, his performance attitude reflected an unflinching love for his work and music. That made an already vital set sound all the merrier.

The show opening Wiser the Whiskey set the pace and temperament of the hour long set with a front line of three guitarists and a bassist, all of whom doubled as vocalists. While Harrison’s general vocal cheer recalled the mischievous immediacy that highlighted the late’90s records of the Bottle Rockets, some of the heavy lifting was left to guitarist Robbie Trosper. His meaty rhythmic jabs fortified the song’s loose groove and carved room for some serious instrumental shredding.

Elsewhere, the tunes themselves underscored – and then tinkered with – the show’s roadhouse vibe. Hey Driver, for instance, was a vintage-style trucker song with an inviting backbeat supplied by drummer Brad Henderson while Ruin of My Days (from the Harrison and the High Score’s fine 2012 album Still Wanna Fight) was a vastly involved suite that slipped a slice of ensemble psychedelia in between two passages of heavy honky that sounded like Status Quo on a rural country holiday.

The set also reached back for a pair of tunes from Harrison’s ‘90s tenure with the Knoxville power pop troupe The V-Roys (Sooner or Later and No Regrets) and two well chosen covers (Tom Petty’s Listen to her Heart and an exhaustive, show-closing take on Bob Seger’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man).

All in all, an enthusiastic, well balanced and highly intuitive performance sent to us from the other side of the Tennessee border. Too bad so few folks from the homestead showed up for the visit.

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