June 20, 2024

Hamish Hawk – Live in Leeds 2024 – “then I can go for the jugular…. politely of course”

Irish Centre, Leeds 6th June 2024

You wouldn’t expect a Villagers crowd to be rowdy but there’s usually a bit of chit chat and wandering about while waiting for the support to finish and main band to arrive. Not tonight. The audience was rapt and silent; and it was down to the poise and presence of Hamish Hawk. A slight figure with just an acoustic guitar but instead of the usual drowned out solo support, there was a still confidence and knowing smile that made for personal rapport with a lot of those present. He spoke slowly as he looked to see how his words fell on the crowd in front of him and sang with his attention roaming the room to establish communication. It helped that the sound was excellent and every word clear.

Words are what Hamish Hawk is about. With a mere six songs, he still left me with poetic couplets rattling round my head – the closing ‘The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973’ – “To write a cathedral, I’ll need a ball-point pen / It’ll sound like ‘Common People’ sung by Christopher Wren” and the opening ‘Dog-eared August’ – “You’ve a body like you’ll ruin me absolutely / Eyes like they’re watching a city crumble in antiquity”.

A mix of songs across three of his four albums so far (there’s a fifth in August), they are poised, thoughtful and immersive like this, compared to the manic energy of his shows with a band. His smiles suggest a pleasure and pride in his lyrics. After the first three slow and steady pieces he says, “I like to start with some dreamy ones, then I can go for the jugular…. politely of course”. He pauses, looks round the crowd, smiling as if at each individual personally.

“This one goes with a punch” he says, moving on to the popular ‘Money’. Digging deep into the crate he offers up ‘Catherine Opens A Window’, a less-often heard song from the first album, it is a not-quite melancholic vignette of cul-de-sac life for children. Closing on ‘The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973’, the song is celebratory in its swing.

I think Mr Hawk will have made himself some new fans tonight and surprised me in how well his songs work played unadorned. There’s a mini-tour in August for the album launch (contingent on buying an album and ticket combo).


Some of our previous thoughts on Hamish Hawk’s gigs and albums:





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