RICHARD HAWLEY //

Bath Pavilion | September 21st

Was this the most middle class gig of all time? Richard Hawley, darling of Guardian readers and Radio 2 listeners, playing in what looked like an elongated rugby club on the banks of the River Avon. The average age is around 40 and the crowd is so quiet, at one point we’re told to “shut the fuck up” by a middle-aged woman quaffing Pinot. We literally said a couple of sentences mid-gig. Welcome to Bath.

After Margery had been put back in her place, and in truth long before, Crack had been enjoying a gig that drew heavily on the Sheffield crooner’s Mercury nominated effort, Standing At The Sky’s Edge. Opening with the title-track, with all its dark anticipation, the gig evolves into a celebration of a lost art-form: retro rock. Nineties guitars rub up against Hawley’s cigarette-deepened croon, and his effervescent northern charm rubs off on everyone.

One admirer shouts out from the audience: “Richard, I’m from the North”, to which he replies “most people put a plant in the audience, I got a bloody vegetable!”

Through older numbers like Open Up Your Door and the wonderful Hotel Room, Hawley reminds the crowd exactly what’s required to not give a shit about popular tastes and write songs that glow with the reverence of a bygone era. The beautifully lit backdrop and glowing faces serve as a visual appreciation of one of Britain’s most uncompromising and honest voices.

Mid-set tracks Remorse Code and Soldier On sound like Morrissey at his most reverential, woven in with more guitar focused pieces from the new album. Closer The Ocean is surely his best ever work, climaxing with all its sullen notions of loss and love.

Fucking perfect. We really should’ve shutted the fuck up.

 

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Words: Thomas Frost

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