Support: Smoke Fairies
The last date of his tour, playing a classic venue in his hometown. Yes, you’d be right for expecting something a little bit special from Sheffield born songwriter Richard Hawley. But just how special left me truly gobsmacked.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First on, the female fronted quartet Smoke Fairies offered up their mix of Americana slide guitar, meets early Carpenters vocals, with the hint of more than a few ‘first big show’ nerves. They won’t go on to change the world, but they did enough to entertain the packed Lyceum for a half hour or so.
As the lights dimmed, Hawley and co appeared onstage for the atmospheric opener ‘As The Dawn Breaks’. Concentrating on material from recent release ‘Truelove’s Gutter’, the set also included ‘Ashes On The Fire’, ‘Remorse Code’ and ‘Open Up Your Door’; with Hawley playfully joking about how the latter, “Is now an ice cream advert”. Whilst performing, the ex-Pulp guitarist was his usual serious-but with an air of cool self, but between songs the tone constantly shifted from local banter to deep sincerity, particularly with numerous dedications to family members, and, as he introduced the encore of ‘Cole’s Corner’ and ‘The Ocean’, by thanking everyone for attendance in these troubled times. Perhaps a tad naff for some, but you can tell with Hawley he genuinely means it. Despite his strong following, some will still argue he’ll always be limited by his style. On tonight’s evidence there’s no denying he’s a man of conviction and should rightfully be up there with Sheffield’s most celebrated acts. Give me his timeless act over any handful of meaningless chart botherers anyday.