Live Review: Richard Hawley, Eventim Apollo, London – 8th June 2024

Richard Hawley London Apollo
Touring to promote his new album, “In the City They Call You Love” Richard Hawley opened his set at London’s Eventim Apollo in fine style with ‘She Brings the Sunlight’, from “Standing at the Skies Edge”, as powerful live as on the recording, with a psychedelic edge and highlighting the 12 string guitar of Shez Sheridan.
Hawley’s music often has a cinematic feel,  no more so than on this opening song, and this was enhanced throughout the set by a top-notch light show, the sense of motion it created a contrast to the static “we are here to play the music“ stance of Hawley and his band on stage, letting the music speak for itself.
Songs from his new album featured prominently in the first half of his set, ‘Two for His Heels’ followed by ‘Prism in Jeans’, the latter a classic Hawley song, beautifully melodic and with his seemingly effortless crooner voice, a tale of the aching loneliness of an outsider “There is an epic loneliness/ That you just can’t hide when you just can’t fit/ Or belong, oh to belong/ To belong, she don’t belong”.
The Apollo’s sound engineers were on top form, coping admirably with a set switching from gentle ballads to the powerhouse that is ‘Standing at the Skies Edge’, one of many highlights from Hawley’s impressive back catalogue, drawing mainly from tracks featured on his 2023 best of’ compilation “Now Then–The Very Best of Richard Hawley”. ‘Just Like the Rain’ was introduced by Hawley as “the oldest song I still perform”, written on his 16th birthday, and showing that he “was a miserable f**ker even back then.” And perhaps the most rousing reception of the night came for the opening strings of the title track from the same album “Coles Corner”, like many of Hawley’s songs, inspired by Sheffield in all its glories, it was no surprise to see the “Welcome to Sheffield” sign at the back of the stage, brought front of stage later by Hawley.
‘Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow’ from Hawley’s new album references Hank Williams, lyrically and stylistically, while ‘Tonight the Streets Are Ours’, from “Lady’s Bridge”, is featured in the stage musical built around Hawley’s songs, “Standing at the Skies Edge”, set in Sheffield’s Park Hill estate, which is currently playing in London’s West End, is Hawley at his most anthemic.
Providing subtle variations in colour throughout the set were changes of guitar after each song for Hawley and Sheridan, while bass player Colin Elliot briefly turned percussionist on one number. On keys/synth strings was Jon Trier, another long term collaborator with Hawley, the line up completed by Dean Beresford on drums, and on third guitar Bryan Day (our newcomer, announced Hawley).

Hawley closed his set with another rocker, ‘Heart of Oak’, from his 2015 release “Hollow Meadows”, before returning for a three-number encore, starting with ‘People’,  a gentle ballad in praise of Sheffield, where ‘People in this city call you love’, performed with Hawley flanked by Sheridan and Day, before being joined by the rest of his band for ‘I’m Looking for Someone to Find Me’, and ‘The Ocean’, a suitably epic closer to a magnificent and enthusiastically received set.

Early arrivals were treated to a well-received set from John Smith on acoustic guitar, followed by Thea Gilmore, who demonstrated her versatility, ranging from the acoustic guitar-led folk with whistling of ‘Razor Valentine’ to a rousing cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’, described as “an old folk song”, and a closing medley of ‘This Girl is Taking Bets/Nice Normal Woman’, with indie and rap stylings, percussion loop and vocalisations.

About David Jarman 122 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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Paul Higham

Excellent review, thanks. We saw the Bristol gig, and reads as if he’s putting on consistently great performances. We didn’t have Thea Gilmore in Bristol but John Smith was a popular support, coming across as less belligerent John Martyn.