Friday, December 7th, 2007
Tonight The Streets Are Ours
I’m as guilty as anyone, but it’s unfortunate that most writeups about Richard Hawley make mention of his time with Pulp – though that was barely more than a walk-on – and The Longpigs. Not because those aren’t good to have on one’s resume, though one obviously moreso than the other, but because it says absolutely nothing about the work he’s done as a solo artist and if one’s biased against Britpoppery, may prompt them to overlook a remarkable artist.
With his deep, twanging guitarwork and rich, baritone croon, Hawley hearkens to an era that predates retro and comes across as timeless. Deeply inspired by his hometown of Sheffield, England, Hawley’s music is some of the most unabashedly romantic stuff you’ll ever hear and so Wednesday night, his first-ever show in Toronto as a solo artist – in support of his latest album Lady’s Bridge – and first visit to town in any capacity in twelve years, was one to have circled on your calendar in permanent ink.
Support on this tour was Ferraby Lionheart, who brought a croon of his own, though much higher and breezier than Hawley’s, and a parcel of songs that also drew from the past – namely the ’70s singer-songwriters of his native California. I found his set to be more engaging than his latest record Catch The Brass Ring which was pleasant and laid back to the point of innocuousness. Which isn’t to say that he and his band rocked it out onstage – hardly – but Lionheart has an engaging sort of presence onstage and you couldn’t help but appreciate the band’s meticulous attention to detail when it came to their arrangements.
Hawley and his band look exactly as you’d want, considering the music they play. Elegantly besuited and armed with an arsenal of the most beautiful guitars you ever did see, Hawley and co dazzled the packed house like the seasoned pros they are. They deftly recreated the huge, lush orchestrations of Hawley’s four records onstage with more volume and more guitarwork, though curiously Hawley opted to stick to rhythm duties for the first bit of the show. It was only towards the end that he took over lead duties from his touring guitarist and demonstrate what he could do on the six-string, culminating in a staggering reading of “The Ocean” to close the encore. I hadn’t put in my earplugs and didn’t bother at the final song – if I was going to go deaf, the having Hawley’s wailing ES-335 being the last thing I heard certainly wasn’t a bad way to go. And as entertaining as he was musically, Hawley was just as much fun as a frontman with an easy, dry English wit and an flair for the fine art of between-song banter. Truly a splendid night and if there was any complaint, it’s that at not much over an hour it felt far too short.
eye and The Globe & Mail also have glowing reviews of the show, iAfrica and WERS have conversations with the man and Stereogum offers up some video footage of a recent in-store in New York City. And Ferraby Lionheart’s Daytrotter session is now up.
Photos: Richard Hawley, Ferraby Lionheart @ The Horseshoe – December 5, 2007
MP3: Richard Hawley – “The Nights Are Cold” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “I’m On Nights” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “It’s Over Love” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “Precious Sight” (acoustic)
Video: Richard Hawley – “Tonight The Streets Are Ours” (YouTube)
Video: Richard Hawley – “Serious” (YouTube)
Video: Ferraby Lionheart – “A Crack In Time” (YouTube)
Video: Ferraby Lionheart – “Small Planet” (YouTube)
MySpace: Richard Hawley
MySpace: Ferraby Lionheart
Feist tells Billboard about nearly crashing her car in a blizzard upon hearing she’d been nominated for four Grammy awards. And if you’re one of those with tickets to her upcoming sold-out Toronto show at the Sony Centre, then you already know that the February 18 date has been postponed to May 13.
Basia Bulat will be doing an in-store at Criminal Records on Queen West next Wednesday night, December 12, at 7PM for a session to be recorded for CBC Radio 3. She’ll be opening up a string of dates for Hayden in January but not, it seems, his February 19 date at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.
AllMusic offers up their guide to “Crush Bands of 2007”.