Review: Richard Hawley Live @ HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh (18/02/13)

With trademark leather jacket and thick 50s-style spectacles, Richard Hawley announces to the audience in his gruff Yorkshire tones that the last time they played Scotland they were in fact in Glasgow.

"Not that I’m trying to wind you up or anything.  It was our favourite gig of all time".  Hawley is in a playful mood but before anyone has a chance to react the band have already launched into a stellar rendition of the title-track of their Mercury Prize-nominated album 'Standing at the Skies Edge'.

The next song, 'Don't Star at the Sun', Hawley informs us is written about an afternoon flying a kite with his son whilst in a much higher (wink) state himself.  It's excellent stuff and nicely leads into the Lady's Bridge classic, 'Tonight the Streets are Ours'  He jokes about being more proud of the song's appearance in an episode of The Simpsons than in the Oscar-nominated film, Banksy.  This sums up how genuinely down to earth Hawley appears to be.

The band then lead into the excellent 'Seek It', which sees Hawley make one of many guitar changes throughout the set.  'Solider On' follows, a tune of epic proprtions which culminates in an inspired wall of sound.

Truelove's Gutter classic 'Open Up Your Door' is the gig's defining moment - Hawley's voice is incredible as is the musicianship displayed by himself and his band.  It's bound to leave the ladies in the room feeling weak at the knees, whilst the men are left feeling a modest jealousy.

Hawley's crowd interaction throughout was top notch, passing off a heckle by announcing "I’m not sure what you said, but I’m sure it was lovely and I’ll hold it close to my heart forever".  The man has style.

The band launch into another song, this time the outstanding 'Leave Your Body Behind You', which leans into the psychedelic-edge that is evident throughout on Standing at the Skies Edge.  The band conclude the set with 'Time Will Bring You Winter', which through a wall of feedback launches into 'Down in the Woods'.

The encore sees an almighty rendition of 'The Ocean' (from 2005's 'Coles Corner'.  On this, and every other song performned during the show, you can't help but marvel at Hawley's skill with the guitar.  Whether playing solo or with bands Pulp or the Longpigs, Hawley has always been a master of his trade.

So the burning question, did this top Glasgow?  I guess we'll never know but I for one can't wait for his next visit to Scotland be it east or west side.

Rik Wolters

19th February 2013

Rik is a band promoter, music writer, musician and DJ based in Edinburgh, UK.  The Sound Project was formed by Rik...

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