Lovewhip has been playing out for almost two decades now. They’ve also been playing at Fury’s Publick House in Dover, New Hampshire for several years too. The combination of Lovewhip and a New Hampshire seacoast venue with a clientele open to original music worked out well for both last Saturday night. Pulling in a good amount of fans on a holiday weekend, Lovewhip kept people dancing, bobbing their heads, and applauding all night long.
Opening with their local hit “Automatik,” one could feel the solid groove anywhere in the room. Band leader Erin Harpe, who is playing more lead guitar parts now, fired off a high pitched line that practically whistled the melody while making it pretty and psychedelic at once. The band’s balance between guitar and groove was outstanding through out the night.
Mid tempo funk number “Night Nurse” kept audience members bopping their heads and their eyes glued. Harmonica player Matt Cat blew a pretty, lilting melody throughout the song, and it suddenly made sense why a harmonica player was added to this band. He played a lot of the melody parts that a keyboard player would handle while bringing a high counter point to Harpe’s echoing guitar lines.
Washy, pre-programmed sounds created a beach wave effect before Harpe’s lovely vocal coos graced the surface of “Drama Queen.” Hip rhythmic patterns from the guitar and oomph from the rhythm section turned “Get It On Down” into a groove impossible to ignore. Island percussion instruments made “I Don’t Care” into a tropical treat for the ears and feet. Harpe’s guitar projection made for a electric island melody that intrigued the ear while making one fee like say “Good song, Maun.” Next, “Show Your Love” found harmonica player Matt Cat peppering it with sweet notes, bringing it all came together as a sweet, sexy confection.
The multi-talented Harpe strapped on a kazoo for an ambling number called “Come Down JJ,” an oldie from their repertoire that moseyed along with sweet, lilting harmonica touches and party flavored injections. The band, which also plays out as Erin Harpe And The Delta Swingers in New England blues venues, performed their rendition of “Pick Poor Robin Clean,” which, despite its yesteryear vibe, brought many dancers to the dance floor for this 1920s blues party send up, complete with lolling vocals.
Lovewhip performed their older local hit “Superhero” with tight ensemble work and a pushy groove, compelling audience members to tap their toes, bob their heads, and do some serious chair dancing. The band’s more recent hit “Gimme That” boasted a driving groove augmented by a sweet harmonica line filling in the melody role while Harpe whipped up a funk guitar riff and applied her smooth, girlish vocal timbre, coating this song with something special. She also played a wild guitar line as its close out.
A more off the beaten path tune called “I Don’t Know Why” found Harpe singing with more of a sophisticated lounge lady approach. It worked at changing the pace of the evening while showing this vocalist isn’t limited to blues or funk. The band’s “Becky O” found Harpe showing more of her range, her voice bounding over a catchy, larger than life groove.
“Bouncehall,” from a much earlier Lovewhip phase, featured Harpe playing a sweet, rippling guitar melody with propulsive rhythmic bops turning it into a jubilant celebration. “Aki Special” found Harpe’s guitar phrasing blend with the rhythm section for a solid funk underpinning. An echo lead guitar effect carried the song’s arc with precision.
Brisk, thumping “MRDR” bounded out of the amps with thunderous boom and snappy guitar and harmonica riffage. Harpe belted the chorus with lofty aplomb, taking her voice to a higher, rangier place. A new song called “Breathe,” built around Jim Countryman’s pulsating bass line and Pariah Beats’s snazzy drum work, ran forward as several rivulets of notes came pouring forth. And that groove kept rocking.
“Stop And Listen” blended past and present, a locomotive train groove shuffle and whistling harmonica line taking one to an earlier time in American music history. Next, Lovewhip bounced back into the present with “Let Go,” another of their local hits. It featured an exciting disco beat and a fun, quirky chorus. For their other hit, “Love Electric,” Harpe whipped out some fiery, feisty lead notes, getting even more wicked as her phrasing turned to fire during the bridge.
Harpe’s hostess-entertainer style surfaced more in “Get Your Freak On,” a tune in which the music pranced around with sly, mischievous shifts. Harpe also showcased more of her dazzling lead guitar work. She’s come a long way, baby, and no longer needs to work with a guitarist in any of her bands.
Lovewhip’s big local hit single “Virtual Booty Machine” was the smooth, polished disco-rock invocation it’s always been. Lurching guitar phrases arced over its bulbous groove like nobody’s business.
After all these years in the business, Lovewhip have come to be known and respected for their solid musicianship, their songwriting prowess, and their unstoppable showmanship. Seeing them do their thing at a receptive room like Fury’s Publick House in Dover, New Hampshire makes one very curious to see where they will take their live shows in the future and what musical direction they are going in for their next recording.