Photo Credit: Heather Marsden
Last night saw one of Sheffield’s finest back in Yorkshire venturing up the M1 to entertain Leeds. Normally for me I’m a sucker for a discordant guitar al la Sonic Youth say or the rousing rumbustiousness of some young punks careering around the stage looking to tear down the system but there is always room for something a bit more considered which took me to the 02 last night to see Richard Hawley for the third or fourth time. Now I’m not a believer in the dictum that you have to have experienced something in order to write about it but at the same time Hawley is clearly someone who has enjoyed and endured life’s rich tapestry and, like me, his middle years allow him to reflect on this from a particular perspective. The result is some of the warmest, tender songs you could hope to hear delivered by a voice that is honey smooth and mellow, backed by a densely rich and textured sound with not a chord out of place. In fact all of the band are clearly extraordinarily skilled musicians that provide the perfect platform for Hawley’s storytelling to unfold. One of the things I’ve always liked about seeing him live is that he is not, like many bands, afraid of the mike, he gets the sound mix right so that you can clearly hear him and his voice becomes another instrument in the band and he also is comfortable to chat in his expletive laden raconteur way giving snippets into his home life, what the songs are about, witty anecdotes, politics and berating the talkers. There is a personal way in which he does this that makes you feel it’s you and him in a pub having a chat.
Although there were some of the old favs last night much of the gig was showcasing his latest album Standing At The Sky’s Edge and it translated beautifully onto the stage although I did notice that he appeared to have nicked the British Sea Power idea of tree stage decoration (BSP fans will know what I mean). The gig was a great experience and if you have not seen him I recommend you go along if he is playing in your town. For me the overall feeling that he creates in me is one similar to this – It’s been a cold crisp but sunny autumn day, you are now getting warm in your favourite pub and you’ve had a couple of beers, all your best mates are around you and in a good mood, there is that special vibe happening where you meander through tales of your intertwining lives, loves won and lost and the warm glow that only comes in these moments and that’s not a bad way for a gig to make you feel.