There’s something reassuringly old school about Richard Hawley, with his leather jacket and thick-rimmed glasses and Elvis-like combination of quiff and sonorous croon.
Venue: Edinburgh Picture House
Rating: * * * *
Review: David Pollock
With his tendency to spin songs out through extended instrumental passages and a Sheffield accent that sounds like a throwback to the days when being from the North was an odd mark of integrity in the music industry.
Old school, yes, but definitely not old fashioned. From beginnings as part of Britpop also-rans Longpigs and latterly as a guest guitarist in Pulp, Hawley last year saw his sixth and latest studio album Standing at the Sky’s Edge pick up the second Mercury nomination of his career and go top three in the UK charts. It was clear he’s the kind of artist who inspires a deep emotional connection with his fans when a throwaway “are you enjoying yourselves?” comment midway through the show started a cheer that built into a crescendo. Deservedly so, for this was music imbued with a sense of easy-going wisdom, the kind of set it’s hard to imagine someone half Hawley’s age being able to write.
From the cottage symphony of Open Up Your Door to Remorse Code, all sailing metaphors and a melody like waves lapping against a hull, Hawley’s style was unflashy but sublime, full of nuggets like the way he crooned Run For Me’s key “I’ve got nothing to live up to” line. He dedicated the glorious I’m On Nights to his father, who would listen to his son’s music on overnight steel mill shifts, and signed off with The Ocean and surely the driest thank-you ever: “Without you we couldn’t buy cocaine and alcohol. But seriously, folks…”