Singer-songwriter Wesley Stace dropped the stage name that he had been known by for 25 years prior, John Wesley Harding (taken from the Dylan album of the same name), in 2013, with the release of his “debut” album Self-Titled. But he was hardly new to the scene – as Harding he had released a total of twelve albums and a handful of other releases. On a chilly autumn night at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia, Stace and his band performed a one-off show titled “Wesley Stace & The English UK Sing the Greatest Hits of John Wesley Harding & Beyond” looking back and celebrating music from throughout his career.
Stace opened the set with the song that was his final single release under the Harding moniker, “Making Love to Bob Dylan,” a rocking track filled with Stace’s trademark humor and double entendre. From there the setlist looked back through the Harding catalog, ranging from “The Devil In Me” from 1990’s Here Comes the Groom and “The People’s Drug” from 1991’s The Name Above the Title, right up to “Uncle Dad” and “There’s a Starbucks (Where the Starbucks Used To Be)” from 2011’s The Sound of His Own Voice. Joining Stace for the show were David Nagler on guitar and keyboards, Eddie Carlson on bass, and Patrick Berkery on drums.
Stace closed out the night with an encore made up of “Ride Your Camel,” the lone track from the night from Self-Titled, and a trio of covers – “Smut” by Tom Lehrer, “I’m a Believer” by Neil Diamond (made famous by The Monkees), and, in a nod to his 50th birthday which was a few days later, “Birthday” by The Beatles.