Live at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 2nd February 2023
With his star in the ascendant, thanks to lots of well-deserved radio play, a new tour started and a sold-out show tonight, Hamish Hawk is effervescent tonight. Giving off a sense that he is overjoyed to have an audience for his songs, he’s a whirl of movement and eye-bulging expression, swivelling on the balls of his feet, jigging on bent knees and emphasising lyrics he’s particularly fond of with facial emphasis. And who wouldn’t love songs that have phrases like “not to catastrophise”?
This is the sort of literate wordplay and clever pop that feels like an individual secret yet the Brudenell has been sold out for some time and the crowd hangs on every word, sharing in Hamish’s delight. Opening with a couple of songs from the new album that won’t be out till midnight tonight, they go down well, thanks to the excellent Brudenell sound meaning the lyrics are clear and band tightly drawn. Speaking of which, the bass is nicely deep and tuneful, the drums unobtrusive and the guitar enjoys a few crazy solos but we’re here for the joy that spins out of Mr Hawk. The band has played here twice before – once in the tiny Games Room, once on the old stage but, as he says, “never like this”. It’s been a long journey and he tells us about playing a restaurant in Halifax with a borrowed PA from a sports club, the worst gig ever. Yet now, here he is and the joy comes out with little scissors kicks and boogies.
Songs, whether off the last album or the new one, go down well, shifting from smart pop to electro-pop to ballad. ‘Calls To Tiree’ sees Andrew Pearson wigging out on the guitar and getting all overwrought. The totally new song next (‘You Can Film Me’) is heavy and rocking too, as is the ending to ‘Bakerloo, Unbecoming’. But between them is the big “maho-uh-ney” chorus of the cynical ‘Money’ and everyone sings along.
The hour and a quarter passes very quickly and Hamish explains there’ll be no encore – “just no – we’re running on empty at this point – instead we’ll leave you with three big ones”. And he does. The wonderful ‘The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973’ sees everyone singing “and I call out, isn’t this living”. Talking Heads’ ‘Thank you For Sending Me An Angel’ is played even faster than the original and reveals a funky side that carries on into his own ‘Caterpillar’ and finally comes crashing down in a band meltdown.
These are songs that, in lesser hands, might have been less than the recorded experience but blossom thanks to the onstage energy, sheer happiness and the radiant audience. Catch Hamish Hawk now, while he is still buzzing with success.
We have album reviews here