A sold-out gig at the end of what sounded from other reports like a very successful UK tour, Hamish Hawk is on the up and deservedly so.
Just ahead of the release of what many will view as his ‘second’ album (the back catalogue before the great reset containing another two – or three – full-length efforts), this was his largest Glasgow headline show to date.
First of all however we had the very up and coming Lizzie Reid, a DF Concerts protege and possessed of a soulful and expressive voice. She appeared as the room was filling up, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar and piano, with the addition of another piano player for one or two songs.
BM was unfortunately standing beside the merch desk where during LR’s set one completely tone-deaf (figuratively and perhaps also literally) punter was having a lengthy conversation (raising her voice above that annoying guitar and voice in the background) to make her point about some package of HH merch she had pre-ordered that was the wrong colour or something. BM honestly think that lockdown has turned some people into inconsiderate and entitled zombies with bugger all self-awareness. Asking this person to shut up would no doubt have further raised the noise levels but oh dear me. Also the number of people pushing in (and this was an ostensibly quite ‘mature’ crowd, during the week, not young and stupid or even Liam Gallagher fans…) without the customary “excuse me” seemed higher than normal – maybe BM is just getting old but some fucking manners cost nothing…
So Lizzie’s slightly-interrupted-for-BM set was very good – several familiar songs such as ‘Company Car’ and the combination of her voice and slightly quirky guitar technique combined well on the set closer ‘Tribute’. BM hopes that she will play some more full-band gigs (at the very least to drown out the talkers…) as her set, as well as sounding delicately beautiful on the acoustic can also benefit from some more full-on and aggressive instrumental backing.
There wasn’t that long a break before the lights went down and Hamish Hawk literally bounded onto the stage. Getting started with his four piece of guitar, bass, keyboard and drums (the frontman only played guitar on the mid-set acoustic number ‘Catherine Opens A Window’), he launched himself around the stage, furiously mugging at the audience, like the complete and utter showman that he is. And he has the voice and songs to back it up, the voice a strong and adaptable baritone in the manner of Alex Kapranos or even at times Morrissey, and the songs, well just both ridiculously catchy but also eccentric and wide-ranging in subject matter and full of clever but not too clever literary and pop culture references along with a dose of self mythologising and arch humour.
And the audience loved it – wild applause and cheering along with the inevitable “Goan yersel’ Hamish” yells. The first chunk of the set was fairly geared to songs from the new (almost released) album ‘Angel Numbers’, some tracks from which have already been played on the radio/streamed as singles. Particular standouts were probably the sarcastic and some bitter opener ‘Dog-eared August’ and the more sympathetic ‘Rest and Veneers’ where he was accompanied by Lizzie Reid on backing vocals. There is a brand new and very strong track ‘You Can Film Me’ which again receives a great welcome.
There is a playful and slightly sexually teasing manner about HH both with his onstage gesticulating and variety of facial expressions, and in his quite frequent lyrical references to ‘boys’ that again invoke the young Stephen Patrick, and also perhaps Neil Hannon as well. After the mid-set acoustic number HH starts a home run of back-to-back bangers, inbetween which he introduces his band and thanks the venue, sound engineer etc – his persona may appear egotistically self-absorbed but HH the man comes across as self-deprecating and modest to a T. A new track (maybe with a lyrical reference to the Johnny Marr song of a few years ago, ‘Money’) is simply majestic while old favourites ‘Bakerloo Unbecoming’ and ‘…Mauritian…’ get a hero’s welcome, some people singing back the words with abandon.
After further thanks the band storm through a furious cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Thank You For Sending Me An Angel’, a track which suits them very well, showing off HH’s vocals and moves as well as the manic percussive beats and white-boys (and girl) funk of the original. Closer ‘Caterpillar’ from the ‘first’ album ‘Heavy Elevator’ ends in an instrumental wig-out of battering percussion and squalling feedback from the band while HH is content simply to egg them on – his work here is done!
BM expects to see HH at the very least on the smaller festival stages over summer 2023 (he is already booked for TRSMT), if not creeping up onto the bigger ones by popular demand.