Richard Hawley at The Iveagh Gardens – Review
According to local folklore, the city of Sheffield sits on seven hills. Built with the blood, sweat and tears of hard working class heroes, its’ musical heritage is saturated with the same sentiment. Sheffield’s headline bands populate multiple music genres. Deff Lepard, Tony Christie Heaven 17, The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Pulp and indie idols Arctic Monkeys all put their sonic stamp on the hallmark of Yorkshire quality.
Up North the weather is cold but the people are warm, witty and honest. They’re not out to impress, what you see is what you get. Which is very much the case here tonight at the Iveagh Gardens as Richard Hawley banters about Brexit, Guinness and The Dawson Lounge.
Resembling a rockabilly throwback, Hawley performs a glorious, lush set of magnificent handcrafted tunes on this balmy Summer eve. A setlist bursting with expanded and embellished guitar glory from Rickenbackers, Baldwins, and Fenders.
With riffs ranging from psychedelic to sublime he starts the night off with ‘Which Way’, a sky filling fuzzy rock number beefed up with Hawley’s rich baritone vocals. He dedicates ‘The Streets Are Ours’ to ‘all the pricks who voted for Brexit’. This glossy, swoony tune carries everyone away. Guitar heavy ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ is extended and indulgent. Layered with a hypnotic tribal drum that thickens the track into a roaring rock experience. ‘Open Up Your Door’, a romantic, refined and gentle tune is next. Its old fashioned arrangement is quaint and charming. Hawley’s pure croon is giving it that 50’s gloss. ‘Leave Your Body Behind’ reveals kaleidoscopic tinges and snarling rock swirling in darkness and depth. ‘Down in The Woods’ evolves into a brooding, psychedelic number. It’s edgy and heavy as low cloud creeps into the night sky. This is the full fat version, a journey of a song punctuated with haunting distorted nursery rhymes. The lullaby opening of ‘Storm A Comin’ starts out waltzy and wonderful, then suddenly morphs into a heavily charged drama with menacing undertones. The last track of the standard set ‘Heart of Oak’ is soaked with noble references to William Blake and Wilfred Owens poetry. It’s lush supersized swoon rock. Inducing a massive crowd sway ‘when you sang Bay of Biscay, the whole world drifted away’. Having consulted with the crowd for the encore, everyone settles on ‘Coles Corner’. Homage to a romantic Sheffield landmark, it is lovingly embraced by the Irish. The opening chimes, string arrangement and hopeful sentiment crooned into perfection. Soundscape sky filling epic ‘The Ocean’ closes the night. Spectacular, soaring and complete with crashing crescendo.
Review by Ciara Sheahan