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Gig review: Richard Hawley, Picture House, Lothian Road

Richard Hawley. Picture: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Richard Hawley. Picture: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

  • by Kate Pickles
 

Stood in his trademark leather jacket, 50s glasses and impressive quiff, Hawley introduces himself with his usual gruff wit, announcing that the last time he played in Scotland, he was in Glasgow.

Richard Hawley

Picture House, Lothian Road

* * * * *

“Not that I’m trying to wind you up or anything. It was our favourite gig of all time,” he teases the Capital’s crowd.

They barely have time to heckle before he launches into the lamenting and epic title track of his seventh and most successful album to date, the Mercury Prize-nominated Standing at the Sky’s Edge.

Its haunting guitar riffs build to a massive wall of feedback and set the tone for a gig that will ring in the ears long after leaving the venue on a Monday night.

The emphatic opening is followed by the first of many swift guitar changes before he melts into “Don’t Stare at the Sun,” which he explains was written about an afternoon spent flying a kite with his son – while higher than one himself (on drugs.)

Next was the Lady’s Bridge classic “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” selected as the theme track for the Oscar nominated Banksy film but which he more proudly announces is featured in an episode of The Simpsons.

He maintains the mellow theme for “Seek It” but this is merely the quiet before the storm as “Soldier On” builds to a spine-tingling crescendo that’s enough to block out any war that could be raging outside.

Hawley’s weathered voice croons its way through a multifaceted set which includes welcome reminders of his earlier album Truelove’s Gutter.

“Open Up Your Door” leaves the ladies in the room feeling the hopeless romantic adulation that Hawley has mostly moved away from in latest musical foray.

But one overriding consistent from the former Longpigs and Pulp member is his accomplished guitar playing. He repeatedly shows what a master craftsman he is – a musical talent emulated by the band’s other musicians he is so keen to acknowledge.

Hawley’s songs have a timeless quality, which were appreciated by a captivated crowd that ranged from young admirers to grandparents.

The Sheffield songwriter struck a fine balance between the swelling balladry of his back catalogue and his bold move toward psychedelics on his latest album.

Forget Glasgow, you’re welcome back to Edinburgh any time Hawley.

 

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