Date: 2nd February 2020
It’s Independent Venue Week again. Richard Hawley is at The Met again. So are we. Again.
A domestic plumbing crisis averted (or maybe slightly plugged at best) a late arrival, on the minutes and the usual place, at the barrier naturally, for once forsaken.
Never mind, but as one person commented on the wonderful things that are the sounding boards of the social media – “great venue – you could almost touch him.” Yes indeed, The Met, already a favourite amongst touring musicians has recently placed in PROG magazine’s reader’s poll as #7 in the best venue category. Quite something for a venue that in the main is a stronghold for the folk/acoustic/roots genre although the regular gigs by neo-prog bosses IQ may have helped…
Talking of regular, 2020 is the third year that Richard Hawley has hopped across from Sheffield for a weekend, so somebody must be doing something right. He’s even coming to grips with how to pronounce ‘Bury’. The acoustic options seem to be becoming more regular and hold a particular appeal for the immaculately coiffeured troubadour. Yes, he’s been in full band mode, having caught Hawley in Manchester at the Albert Hall and Holmfirth – the latter with a string section, giving Coles Corner and added shot of romance – but the acoustic option is much more chilled and intimate.
These IVW nights seem to have turned into familiar nights of banter with a born raconteur – I know, I’ve had the pleasure of posing the odd interview question and then listened to him spout forth. Ramble wouldn’t be the right word to use, but you know what I mean? After seeing him play some of the new music from the Further album at an acoustic HMV instore appearance, there were few surprises, just a regular warm feeling of “Oh, I love this one,” when he croons through Lady Solitude from the catalogue of classics or Emilina Says from more recent times.
Uptempo he ticks off with Tonight The Streets Are Ours but a particular highlight is The Sea Calls, rolling like the tides that carry the lover away. The incessantly romantic moments come with Baby You’re My Light and make a mockery of his occasional lapse into the vernacular. He may give an unashamed two-fingered gesture at the description as a ‘Sheffield Superstar’ but as we probably said last year, same again next year?
Photography by Mike Ainscoe from Independent Venue Week at The Met in 2018 and 2019. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.