Richard Hawley – Live At Halifax Piece Hall: Album Review

Sir Richard of Hawley, live in his native Yorkshire. Reasons to get excited – let’s have it.

Release Date: 16th December 2022

Label: Live Here Now

Format: DVD/Bluray / 2CD / Vinyl

Classic lines from live albums, you can probably quote a few, captured for posterity on the (often double) live album. You can probably name a few from Lou Reed to Mick Jagger to Bono and beyond. Trust Richard Hawley to come up with something to rival Bruce Dickinson’s intro to Maiden’s Rime Of The Ancient Mariner – “This is not what to do if a bird shits on you.” He doesn’t wait till halfway through the show either. Before a note is played he’s asking “Alright? Are we going to ‘have it’? as the lukewarm response gets an “Is that how weak West Yorkshire is? Are we going to f**king have it?” before letting loose with a rip-roaring Off My Mind. The signature classy polish is briefly sidelined, kicked into touch, for a burst of exciting garage band rock and roll.

West Yorkshire has it and we’re off with a “ta” and an “OK” on a journey – some might say “going downtown where there’s music” – that cherry picks from the most recent album, Further and the cream of a catalogue that’s one of those bodies of work where there’s barely room for a duff song.

Standing At The Sky’s Edge broods over eight and a half minutes, heavy on distorted guitar and heavy psychedelic soloing that needs the relative calm of I’m Looking For Someone To Find Me that to be truthful fairly rattles along with a hint of C&W to bring things down. In full clear voice and at his romantically crooning best, we head into what may be a signature song or two as we go carnival riding as tonight Matthew, the streets are ours and the totally lush Coles Corner. The latter is given the full string treatment and we can forget Adrian Dunbar having a crack at the song and swoon to the master. Couples in the crowd undoubtedy in an embvrace will be swaying gently.

The balance continues to tip one way and then the other. Galley Girl and Is There A Pill? rock and swing gently and the chug of Heart Of Oak (the tribute to Norma Waterson) provides a worthy encore; Down In The Woods shifts gears and heads into psychedelic guitar freak-out territory. From the excellent Standing At The Sky’s Edge album, the overhead chopper sounds and Space Rock riffing highlight the sonic departures of the Sky’s Edge period (although he’s never gone for a definitive live take of the brilliant She Brings The Sunlight).

On the other hand Open Up The Door and “one of the quietest songs I’ve written so if you all shout and talk all the way through, that’d be f**king brilliant” For Your Lover Give Some Time alter the mood. We’re transported from the outdoor stage of Halifax’s Piece Hall to some late-night smoky and dim nightclub. Along with Coles Corner and the rare gem There’s A Storm Comin’ – gorgeous strings again and some nifty and fine piano and guitar picking – it’s simply lush.

As Sir Richard points out, it’s his name on the ticket but has particular thanks to pay to his band of brothers who form his regular backup alongside the “much-needed glamour” of his string section. A live album that does what live albums should do. One that brings the best of the Hawley catalogue to life without losing any of the subtlety. Add the note that aside from the bravado and the occasional lapse into the vernacular, he’s a very genuine and humble musician who doesn’t take anything for granted.

Here’s a flavour of the show:

Richard Hawley online: Website /  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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