Me and the musical Prince of Sheffield Richard Hawley have history. Sadly, history that he’s blissfully unaware of. Back in 1989, or it could have been 1988, slightly drunk on cheap cans of Skol, Richard Hawley thanked me after I said ‘nice job’ or some suchlike pleasantry after seeing his band of the time Treebound Story play at an all-dayer in a nightclub in Bradford. I liked his style and memorised his name off the back of one of their 12” I sourced after the event, in the way you would seeing a wonder kid play for say Lincoln City in a friendly (that actually happened- but I digress). Years later I would see him with Pulp and fail to see him with The Longpigs (Long Story) and so and it seems me and half of the rest of Sheffield took the opportunity to go see him play at Holmfirth’s brilliant Picturedrome venue “If all of you lot have come from Sheffield, why the f**k did I bother coming here” he says when heckled later on.
It’s a lovely venue, situated right in the middle of Holmfirth, a mere stones throw from Sid’s Cafe – you know, from……well, anyway, you know. Painted black inside now and bored out from its days as admin cinema, there are balconies and bars, and atmosphere sweeping out of it.
But first we had a support, the subtle indie folk of Studio Electrophonique, a one man show burn drizzled with emotion and with a healthy dose of self depricating humour, look out for him.
Unsure what to expect of the main man on his arrival, save for a likeable character, a brilliant songwriter with impeccable guitar playing chops and a crooners voice soaked in what sounds like woodbines and magnet. Maybe stripped back versions of favourites sprinkled with songs from his forthcoming ninth album Further. Well, yes. And no.
21 songs later (I know because he said so) we walked out, dazed, seduced by those songs, by that voice, by the strings, the arrangements, the stories (my lads mates – lovely lads but they’re all f**kwits) the atmosphere. From the opening bars of the muscular new single Off My Mind, where the band pinned us to the wall, to the pure beauty of Coles Corner which drew almost silent (save for a chorus of ‘Ah,s) applause, by way of title track of his recent stage show Standings at the Sky’s Edge (its a surprise, because frankly I thought they were all sh*t, he quips), title track Further, the dark warmth of Tonight the Streets are ours, with a career spamming selection packed in between.
That we could hear every note and nuance says as much about the sound and venue as it does for Hawley and his brilliant band. And so we left, breathless, starry eyed, and elated.
If I’d have seen him after I’d have said much more than a muttered compliment before rushing off to see The Man From Delmonte, or the New Fast Automatic Daffodils or someone, because this was a brilliant show from a brilliant showman. I did right looking up his name on that Treebound Story record, it’s served me well.
Click thumbnails to view