Haim at The Academy, Dublin – Review & Photos
Haim at The Academy, Dublin – December 13th
Seven months ago, Haim began their tour with a Whelans date that surpassed the expectations of all reviewers and left gig-goers craving an album release. Last night, they returned to Dublin to grace the Academy Dublin stage and finish their tour in the city where it began.
An ever-growing crowd greeted support act Saint Raymond yet never quite fully engaged. There was much confusion over Saint Raymond’s status as a band or a solo act with a backing band. It has to be admitted that Callum Burrows was often overshadowed by an intensely engaging and charismatic guitarist and a bassist that was doing his very best to get the crowd involved. It’s a shame to say that Saint Raymond’s (Callum Burrows) backing band were the highlight of his set. Saint Raymond’s latest track ‘Young Blood’ has recently been remixed by Kele Okereke and ends his set but, unfortunately, none of his other tracks stand out tonight.
As the lights dim in the Academy, often overlooked Haim percussionist Dash Hutton starts the now overflowing venue off with a pulsating beat to warn of the oncoming Haim trio. Este practically gallops onstage exuding the borderline insane charisma that has charmed fans worldwide. Danielle and Alana follow quietly behind before unleashing a raw, unbridled version of ‘Falling’ as their opener. Haim’s live performance lacks the perfectly polished studio production of their debut album and they come to you with no inhibitions and refuse to hold back. This quality that often dampens the performances of many a live band proves to be the reason that Haim really shine tonight.
For their third song, they wreak havoc onstage with a Fleetwood Mac cover as Alana, the youngest, takes over with sultry, teasing vocals. Seeing the sisters perform a song in their natural habitat – an uncensored jam session – is enthralling; this is a showcase of the girls at their very best. The crowd quickly follow it up with a venue-wide happy birthday chant dedicated to Alana – a rendition that leaves the trio wide-eyed and baby Haim verging on tears. That solidifies the tone for the night; this is a special gig and despite some unresponsive, non-stop chatterers at the back, the crowd never stops “breaking it down” at Este’s request.
As per her repertoire, Este supplies a more than adequate amount of her signature “bass face” and dynamic riffs. Alana, ever the multi-instrumentalist, swaps from keys to synth, to guitar, to drums and to lauded vocals throughout the night and proves herself a master of all trades. Danielle solidifies herself mid-stage, wielding her guitar and proving herself an irreplaceable frontman. Combined, the sisters make up an unstoppable force and bewitch a crowd that was almost entirely unresponsive to the support act.
The band return for an encore, and break into album track “Running if You Call My Name”. Este, overwhelmed, bursts into tears, rendering her unable to sing for this one and it suddenly hit home for everyone how much these girls invest in their music. Ending on “Let Me Go”, the girls put down their guitars and each take to the drums for an ensemble percussive breakdown that is undeniably shattering. As a reviewer, I was skeptical that the album would translate so well to a live stage but the Haim sisters prove me entirely wrong. These girls are soaring to new heights at a blistering pace and it’s not stopping anytime soon.
The only downfall is that it all ended too soon; an eleven-track setlist (encore included) is all too short. The band and their team rightfully cracked a bottle of champagne open on stage and you can be quite sure the celebrations didn’t stop there. The countdown is well and truly on for their return after last night. In March of next year, they will grace the Olympia with their presence (a larger venue sorely needed). Alas, don’t get your hopes up – this one is already sold out.
Review and Photos by Laur Ryan