Richard Hawley At Vicar Street – Review
There’s a lot of love for Richard Hawley tonight and honestly, what’s not to love? Rocking the double denim, quiff and Gibson semi, he looks effortlessly cool and seems to genuinely enjoy his visit to Dublin, even if he does gently rib some people at the back for chatting early on in the set. It’s all part of the fun of course; Hawley’s between song patter is almost as good as the music, whether he’s relaying jokes that a taxi driver told him about Dublin being twinned with Las Vegas (‘the only two places on earth where you can pay for sex with chips’) or rejecting the advances of a seventeen year old fan (‘I have peas in my freezer that are older than you’).
As much fun as all of that is, it’s the music that people have come to hear and Hawley doesn’t disappoint on that front. The beautifully lush ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’ gets an early airing and goes down a storm, as does the swampy grit of ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’. Although he looks like a throwback to the rockabilly era, Hawley’s virtuosity allows him to cherry-pick from multiple genres and mould them into something that is unmistakably his own.
His guitar playing is a pleasure to behold and there are many opportunities to take it in as he wanders off into several extended exercises in riffery that stay just the right side of overindulgent. His rich, velvety baritone lifts the sweeping ‘Sometimes I Feel’ and ‘Open Up Your Door’, the latter receiving massive applause from the very first line.
The cosmic noodling of ‘Don’t Stare At The Sun’ is beautiful. Hawley’s introduction, ‘This one’s about flying a kite with my youngest son’ prompts some ‘aw’s’ from the crowd before he mischievously quips, ‘I was on acid at the time.’ That’s probably not true but it’s still a pretty trippy tune and a real standout on the night, building from a gentle opening to a breathless crescendo.
‘My Heart Of Oak’ closes out the main set and features a first for Hawley when one of his guitar strings snaps midway through the song. ‘I’ve never broke a string on stage in thirty years,’ he tells the crowd before going on to thank everyone for coming along and helping to keep his band in cocaine and alcohol.
He’s not gone too long though and is back for an encore that features a moving rendition of ‘Coles Corner’ before it’s time to go for good. ‘I’ve got the Lord Edward to go to and it’s gonna close in a bit,’ he tells the crowd. After a performance of this quality, there’s no one in that would begrudge the man a pint.