Richard Hawley + Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly @ o2 Institute, 10th October 2019

It’s been almost two decades since we were first blessed with the crooning voice and electrifying vintage guitar sounds of Richard Hawley. 

Eight albums and a whole catalogue of iconic tunes later, the Sheffield singer songwriter returned to action at the beginning of summer with his latest release, Further.

This time he’s turned the guitars back up to 10 after 2015’s mellower production Hollow Meadows, and it’s been really well received by his supporters; even matching his highest official album chart position at number three. 

This week he was back at Birmingham’s O2 Institute ahead of two hometown gigs in the Steel City over the weekend.  In support was Sam Duckworth who is Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.  Sam is out on his own supporting Richard, not with the band for this tour. His political songs and earnest delivery went down well. 

Digbeth has become a familiar battleground for Hawley in recent weeks after he performed at the recent Peaky Blinders Festival; fans of the show will be familiar with his cover of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man featuring in the new series. 

Clad head-to-toe in his trademark double denim, he arrives on stage and greets the packed out venue in his own attempt at a Brummie accent.

“Y’alright?”, he asks. “Bostin!” is the answer from a member of the audience and that would soon be apt as Hawley smashes into rocking opener Off My Mind before showcasing other new material in the form of Alone and Further.

It’s no secret that Hawley’s music and lyrics have been significantly inspired by his hometown of Sheffield over the years. The majority of his albums are named in tribute to different parts of the city.

The dilapidated Park Hill council estate flats, which rise high above the back of Sheffield railway station, are screened on the backdrop for the spine-tingling Standing at the Skies Edge — a song which depicts the life and heartbreak of residents who’ve resided there over time. A really special performance and the highlight of the show for us. 

No-one writes a love song quite like Richard Hawley. And there was romance aplenty as he performed stunning renditions of ballads Coles Corner and Tonight the Streets are Ours. 

“I love this venue. We’ve had some brilliant nights here… until now.” Not only is the Yorkshireman a wonderful writer and performer but he does a good job of keeping us all laughing throughout the night.

Next up, with the support of the fantastic Clive Mellor of Manchester shredding on the harmonica, Hawley and his five-piece band storm through new number Time Is, the echoing psychedelic sounds of Down in the Woods and Is There a Pill?

“This is the time where we call it a night. I’ve got a bus to catch,” he continues to joke before declaring his humbling love for those who support his work. “We love you! Keep that in your thoughts because without you, we’d be fucked.” 

They return for a two-song encore of There’s a Storm Comin’ and the final number Heart of Oak, a calm and collected close to the evening’s affairs.

We really are lucky to have Richard Hawley and his music. There are few solo artists to consistently produce great music throughout their career and his performances feature the perfect combination of electric guitar driven rock ‘n’ roll and acoustic melodies — all forged by Sheffield steel. 

You’re welcome in Birmingham anytime, Mr Hawley. Just please make sure you come back again soon. 


Reviewer: Tom Oakley

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge

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