fri 19/01/2018

Richard Hawley, Somerset House | reviews, news & interviews

Richard Hawley, Somerset House

Richard Hawley, Somerset House

Sheffield relocates to Somerset House courtesy of Quiff Richard

Not even a heatwave can wilt Richard Hawley's quiff

The specially erected sign on the lamppost on the way in said "Sheffield". For one night only the People's Republic of South Yorkshire seemed to decamp to Somerset House in honour of one of its numerous musical sons. A trickle of chippy north-south divide ran through last night's gig, with quips about the la-di-da PM and the price of London drinks, but the music undoubtedly united everyone as Hawley warmed to his fans: "I might get you a beer later…I did say one between the lot of you."

Hawley does not have a new album to plug, which meant – hooray – that he and his solid band played plenty of old favourites that the fans actually wanted to hear. Songs from his most recent album Standing at the Sky's Edge, which had a psychedelic tinge to it, mingled with older, more trad-rock tracks. There was even a little rockabilly medley in the middle when Hawley was joined by John Wood on high-energy double bass for "Serious" and "Rockabilly Radio".

Hawley is not a scissor-kicking, technically flash, show-off guitar hero, but he clearly nows his stuff

As ever, the bespectacled frontman played stand-up comedian as well as a variety of impressive guitars, and had a put-down for every occasion. When he was heckled while talking about how "Don't Stare at the Sun" was written about taking his son kite-flying, he quickly responded with withering sarcasm: "I see MENSA are having their Christmas party early this year." The pro-proletariat anthem "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" was followed by "Do you think Cameron heard us? Or that tosser Osborne?"

When Hawley's last album came out it felt like a departure from his retro-rock template, but onstage there was a clear through line from something recent such as "Leave Your Body Behind You" to 2005's "The Ocean". Both were great showcases for Hawley's musicianship, bending notes and pulling and pushing the melody to maximum effect. Hawley is not a scissor-kicking, technically flash, show-off axe hero but he clearly knows his stuff. He is no tedious muso either, simply a musician through and through. As if to underline the point he explained that one of his sons was conceived under the stage at Glasgow Barrowlands. He then tried to get the Somerset House audience to sing along. "Don't be shy, his mum wasn't."

Parenthood may have still been on his mind when he did a spot of Bono-style extemporising, working a medley of "Teddy Bear's Picnic", "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and the lyrics from The Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" into "Down in the Woods". He may still look like a Fifties throwback in his Levi's and quiff, but there may be a hint of hippy about Hawley these days.

The songs might have been old, the gags even older, but the star made everything feel fresh. It helped, of course, that summer has finally arrived. The last time I went to a Summer Series gig here I spent most of the evening cowering under an umbrella. Towards the end Hawley played "There's A Storm A Coming" and then predicted that rain would arrive on Wednesday. Given that he got everything else right last night, he will probably be spot on about that too. 

Watch Richard Hawley perform "Down in the Woods"

Hawley played stand-up comedian as well as a variety of impressive guitars

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

What a terrible article. So many factual errors.

So can't you have the common decency to list them so that the piece can be corrected?

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