Richard Hawley @ The Astoria, 12th February
It's a mystery how Richard Hawley managed to keep his various talents such a secret until comparatively recently. He writes some good songs (file under "ballads", "1950s-style", "country-tinged" and maybe "skiffle (occ.)"). And as he session-guitared his way through the nineties who knew about THAT voice? (File, if you must, under "baritone", "Orbison-esque", "Scott Walker-esque", "crooner", etc etc.)
The titles of the two recent CDs which have led Hawley's fame and presumably fortune ("Coles Corner" and "Lady's Bridge") are both locations in his native Sheffield and most of the songs in tonight's NME Awards Show come from these albums. It generally helps at gigs, I think, if the punters know the songs--we all like to hear some greatest hits that we can hum along to--so tonight doesn't disappoint in that respect.
He's got a nice line in stage patter too: he gives an insistent heckler short shrift ("I'd f__ing love to talk all night but in case you haven't noticed, we've got company") and after introducing his sidemen he paraphrases the usual pointless "...and my name's Richard Hawley": "...and I'm a cross-dresser from Portsmouth called Susan".
A slight gripe in that my favourite tracks, "Coles Corner" and "Tonight The Streets Are Ours" are rather buried in the middle of the set while he encores with a Hank Williams song that just doesn't do it for me, C&W philistine that I am. Nit picking here though. Overall a great gig. Next stop the Albert Hall...
Some choice links:
- Go on a tour of Sheffield with him, courtesy of The Guardian
- Read a review of a gig by The Feral Cats, Hawley's skiffle-tastic side project
- A Girl Called Eddy on myspace: this was an album Hawley produced in 2004 which got some coverage on Mark Radcliffe's radio show at the time. In my view it is, in RH parlance, The Bollocks.