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CONCERT REVIEW: Har Mar Superstar at the Troubadour

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If you imagined the Jon Lovitz-voiced character from the old animated show The Critic somehow managed to escape a television set and become a real human, the resulting mental picture would probably be pretty close to Har Mar Superstar. He’s not very tall, balding, not thin, and has a penchant for taking off his clothes onstage (although the days of him taking everything off are now behind him, I’m told.)

Chalk this up as a victory for the wisdom of not judging books by their covers – Har Mar Superstar rocks. A seemingly endless fount of funk jams, he distills everything that was cool about the Jackson 5 and classic funk into short, sweet tastes of groove, and at a recent Troubadour show in the Los Angeles, the city where his latest record was written and recorded, he was on top of his game.

Although he doesn’t look like anyone on the top 40 chart, there is something very sexy about Har Mar; he proved this time and again with tongues-out make out sessions with various hot girls in the front of the stage. One rarely sees performers french-kissing their audiences between lyrics, and might suspect there’s a good reason for this, but Har Mar manages to make it look almost classy. Over the course of the evening, Har Mar took the mic all over the legendary Troubadour, including into the upstairs VIP room, where he did a hilarious impromptu riff making fun of the Very Important people.

Complementing his sense of humor and his sex-appeal are his songwriting skills; his songs are certainly top-40 quality. When spinning his latest disc “The Handler” at the office recently, one of my co-workers asked if it was a new boy-band. It’s an honest mistake; Har Mar has penned songs for Christina Aguilera and Kelly Osborne. He does the Justin Timberlake brand of funky R&B jams much, much better than Timberlake, but with an added twist of irony that makes him an icon for the indie kids, as well.

During the romantic ballad “O,” Har Mar ordered one of the record label guys on the stage along with Revlon model Eva Mendez, instructing them to dance like they were in a high school gym – as nervously and awkwardly as possible. He has that sort of command over his audience; he is so clearly involved in what he’s doing and so unafraid of looking like an ass while doing it, he inspires the audience to play along un-selfcousciously as well.

Speaking of which, I can’t claim complete objectivity in this. I spent a good part of the evening bumping and grinding with a bookkeeper – a stranger – as well as a couple of other women whose names I never got. That’s not the sort of thing I normally do, but it’s just that sort of music. I can easily attest to the fact that the Har Mar Superstar show was one of the best I saw in 2004. Like his latest album, it’s pure, unadulterated (but deceidedly adult) fun.

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