Friday, 21 September 2012

Richard Hawley, Holmfirth Picturedrome

If you're the betting kind and prone to studying form, then Richard Hawley's Standing at the Sky's Edge must be tickling your fancy as a possible winner of this year's Mercury Music Prize.  Here's a singer-songwriter whose body of work over the past 10 years or so has been little short of magnificent and who stands alone amongst British male solo artists when it comes to consistency.  Over six studio albums, Hawley's graceful songs of love and loss - and the odd bit of northern witticism - have helped him step out of the shadows as an indie bit-part player and into the limelight - a role he clearly cherishes when he is out on stage. 

Tonight, Hawley tells the sold-out crowd in Holmfirth, is only the second gig he has played in 2012 standing up (he broke his leg falling on a staircase earlier in the year and performed a number of gigs sat in a wheelchair) and he clearly enjoys the chance to let rip on songs such as 'Down in the Woods' and 'Leave Your Body Behind You'. While reviews of his latest album have concentrated on the new 'rockier' change of direction for Hawley, it is the songs that allow him to show off his velvety croon that stand out this evening. Dedicating the sublime 'Seek It' to the poet Simon Armitage and his wife who are in attendance celebrating their wedding anniversary and 'Soldier On' from Truelove's Gutter to the families and supporters of the Justice for the 96, Hillsborough campaign, Hawley's songwriting shows off a depth of beauty and tenderness that somehow contradicts his tough bequiffed rocker image. 

I often find the bar area at the Picturedrome (positioned at the back of the venue) to be quite noisy, which can sometimes spoil those quieter, more reflective moments at a gig, but tonight you could hear a pin drop when Hawley dropped the tempo - especially on 'Open up Your Door' and breathtaking set closer 'The Ocean'. Should Hawley get the nod at next month's Mercury Music Prize ceremony, then no doubt his star will rise and with it his fanbase; so tonight it was great to watch a performer at the top of his game in such an intimate venue. However, if you are fond of the odd flutter, then there is one thing you can bet your mortgage on, and that is Richard Hawley will still be as compelling whether he's playing football stadiums or a converted cinema in 'Last of the Summer Wine' territory. 

No comments:

Post a Comment