“Well – as you can see we’ll be Sitting At The Sky’s Edge tonight” quips Richard Hawley, who is brought onstage in a wheelchair to the considerable surprise of the sold out crowd for this live show to support his Standing At The Sky’s Edge album.
“I broke my leg in Barcelona” he explains “I’d love to say it was doing something amazing, but I slipped on a marble staircase wearing leather shoes.”
The Sheffield guitarist has an impressively leafy stage set to go with his new show. “Do you like Richard Hawley’s Garden Centre?” he asks later “It’s like B&Q in here…”
Richard Hawley is the latest person to embrace his inner hippy with it having been the best year for psychedelia since Syd Barrett quit Pink Floyd after playing one too many gigs with Mandrax crushed into his Brylcreem to allow the stage lights to allow it to melt down his face. Allegedly.
Hawley came to prominence in the UK a few years ago after an extraordinarily beautiful performance at the Mercury Music Awards supporting his nominated album, the sublime Cole’s Corner. Such was the strength of the song and accompanying album that eventual winner (and fellow Sheffield resident) Arctic Monkeys‘ frontman Alex Turner memorably began his award acceptance speech with “Someone call 999. Richard Hawley’s been robbed!”
Whilst What Did You Expect From The Arctic Monkeys… was a more than worthy winner, there was an element of truth in Mr Turner’s words.
Until that night, only the hippest hipsters of Hipsterville had heard of Hawley. It turned out, in fact, that he had previously played with The Longpigs and for a time with Pulp. Now, it is a genuine surprise if Coles Corner is not played at a dinner party anywhere in the UK.
Which brings us nicely to Hawley’s latest record, the rather marvellous Standing At The Sky’s Edge. A step forward from the last couple of records, Standing… takes Hawley into previously uncharted territory (for him at least) whereby he has finally turned his amp up. The record is all the better for it, and is an early contender to take the prize that Cole’s Corner had stolen from it. Hawley will be hoping The Arctic Monkeys don’t have a new album out anytime soon.
Live, Hawley is witty and charming, even whilst immobile and on painkillers, (though to be fair, very few of those drugs were crushed into his Brylcreem) “I feel like Davros from Doctor Who. I’m sorry I’m not talking more, but I’m on some serious drugs…” He plays a good amount of the new album, interspersed with older favourites The Ocean, Tonight The Streets Are Ours and Open Up Your Door. Even with the newer, more psychedelic tunes, it’s a mellow kind of night. In a really good way.
Support were Y Niwl – a Welsh surf-rock instrumental band, which, like a Norwegian Mariachi band or a talented boy band isn’t something you see every day. Worth checking out if you have worn out your Dick Dale albums…
Richard Hawley will be touring the UK and playing a number of Festivals over the summer. Standing At The Sky’s Edge is out now.
Record #54: Richard Hawley – Down In The Woods