Richard Haw­ley is on his best form yet, and deliv­ers a storm­ing crowd-pleas­er set: dense gui­tar dri­ven sound com­bined with beau­ti­ful ballads.

I imag­ine that many oth­ers in last night’s audi­ence at The Round­house had, like me, put the final episode of Down­ton Abbey on ‘Record’. I’m indeed thank­ful for such tech­no­log­i­cal won­ders, because I would­n’t have missed this incred­i­ble per­for­mance for the world.

Haw­ley had just played a blind­er of a gig in Sheffield, and per­haps was still on a high from that home-crowd appear­ance. I did won­der if the set would be a tad bal­lad-heavy as Haw­ley’s intro­spec­tive slow num­bers are the pre­dom­i­nate fea­ture of new album Hol­low Mead­ows, but instead this was more of a bal­anced fes­ti­val-style crowd pleas­er with a mix of new and old, with more than a sprin­kling of mate­r­i­al from the pow­er­ful Stand­ing at the Sky’s Edge.

The open­er was the pound­ing and slight­ly men­ac­ing Which Way? from Hol­low Mead­ows, lead­ing into Tonight the Streets are Ours. Lat­er, Down in the Woods got the extend­ed treat­ment with creepy nurs­ery rhyme sec­tion, and stat­uesque bal­lad Heart of Oak from the new album has the sound of a new Haw­ley clas­sic. Haw­ley’s voice, despite his smok­ing, or maybe because of it, is on effort­less form. The three-num­ber encore fin­ished with an emo­tion­al num­ber from 2005 Coles Cor­ner, The Ocean.

Haw­ley did­n’t spend too much time indulging in ban­ter, although I could have done with a lit­tle more of his blunt and amus­ing quips. Actu­al­ly, if he ever changes career and does a com­e­dy night, I’ll be there. He asked a girl in the audi­ence how old she was. Six­teen, came the answer. “I’ve got peas in my freez­er old­er than you” was the reply. But for all the ban­ter and Sheffield swag­ger, Haw­ley is a soft bloke, with his lilt­ing and lovelorn bal­lads, and a song ded­i­cat­ed to his daughter.

Hawley Roundhouse

The stage set with its dec­o­ra­tive pan­els and the light­ing were par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive, and the sound was full, clear and well bal­anced. Haw­ley’s mid-gig min­ute’s silence for Remem­brance Sun­day was impec­ca­bly observed by the audience.

Twice, Haw­ley announced apolo­get­i­cal­ly that he was about to play a ‘mis­er­able’ tune. But how­ev­er mourn­ful and down­beat the song, this was an utter­ly joy­ful and well-received per­for­mance, and proof that Richard Haw­ley remains at the top of his game.

WHO: Richard Haw­ley, sup­port Danc­ing Years, Meilyr Jones
WHEN: Novem­ber 8, 2015
WHERE: The Round­house, London

Past gigs: Richard Haw­ley 2012

Richard Haw­ley at Lit­tle Noise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *