Gig Review: Richard Hawley, Salford Lowry Theatre, May 28, 2006

About five minutes before leaving the house we suddenly decided to see who was opening for Richard Hawley. I discovered the website of Monkey Swallows the Universe with two MP3 tracks. I got halfway through one of them – it sounded like the luscious Trespassers William – before telling The Ledge it was definitely worth getting there early. It was 7:20pm at this point and our tickets said 8:00pm, so we grabbed our jackets and headed for the car.

Micah P. Hinson at the LowryStrangely enough, when we got to the venue we were told the first band was already on – at 7:55pm. So, we managed to catch all of 15 minutes of melancholic, acoustic pop beauty from Monkey Swallows the Universe. At least one track, “Sheffield Shanty,” paid homage to their hometown. They did, indeed, sound remarkably like Trespassers William, with a golden-voiced female backed up by acoustic musicians with sparse, folky arrangements with a touch of Mazzy Star about them. When they finally burst into a fast-paced number for their closer and it sounded like Belle & Sebastian I nearly had to laugh. They might wear their influences on their sleeves, but they use them well and when I went past the merchandise stand after the show it seems they’d sold out of CDs.

Next up was Micah P. Hinson, a name I’d heard of but I had no idea what he sounded like. He turned out to be a very good-natured Texan with an acoustic guitar, a couple of sparsely used backing-musicians and a big smile. He played country music with an impressive twang, some emotional shouted vocals that caused the folks next to us to flee to the bar, some lovely singing and sparse arrangements which emphasized the quiet moments in the songs, the space and made the moments of sound all the more effective and noticeable. You could hear every note from voice, guitar, harmonica, etc. It was lovely and reminded The Ledge of Smog. Either way, I certainly want to find his album now as he certainly charmed me.

Richard Hawley at the LowryFinally we got what we’d came for: the lovely Richard Hawley and his bittersweet rockabilly loungecore stylings. Richard Hawley’s songs are like watching an old black & white romance film shot in soft focus. It is possible to lose yourself in his old-fashioned world of romance, beauty and mystery. Not only that, but in between his odes of enchantment, he tells great jokes and banters with the audience. This gig, in a small theatre in the Lowry, was the perfect setting for this old-style entertainment and listening to him run through modern crooner classics such as “The Nights are Cold,” “Cole’s Corner,” “The Ocean,” written for his wife, and “Just Like the Rain” was perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. Since November, when we saw him perform a gig at the Academy 3, Hawley’s last album has been heavily plugged in television ads and I even heard it played in Topshop while shopping for shoes. It seems he’s already a massive hit with Radio 2 listeners as the gig was sold out to a crowd in which I felt that I was amongst my parent’s friends. It is now only a matter of time before the rest of the world cottons on to how lovely his songs are and he is catapulted into mainstream fame.

2 Responses to “Gig Review: Richard Hawley, Salford Lowry Theatre, May 28, 2006”

Leave a Reply