Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley @ Wulfrun Hall, 11th June 2024

Few musicians are as enamoured by their hometown quite like Richard Hawley.

Now nine records deep into an illustrious solo career, each offering has been heavily influenced by his love for the Steel City and its people.

That’s been as evident as ever on latest release, the aptly named In This City They Call You Love, which made it to number five in the official album charts last week.

“It’s hilarious,” he declares to the crowd at his show at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton. “Taylor Swift, Billy Eyelash and a couple of rappers, and then a 57-year-old pisshead gobshite from Sheffield.”

But before Hawley and his band make it to the stage, we’re introduced to the wonderful sounds of Oxford singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore.

Her rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising and original tune She Speaks in Colours from her self-titled 2023 album go down excellently. A perfect start to a Tuesday night out in the Black Country.

Then as 9pm approached it was time for the main man himself. “Welcome to Wolverhampton” said Hawley – looking slick as always with his black shades and trademark quiff – as he and his five bandmates arrived on stage.

They kick off proceedings with the epic classic She Brings The Sunlight, which immediately captivates the audience with his crooning voice and intricate guitar work.

Before smashing straight into Two For His Heels and Prism In Jeans, both singles which hail from the recent record, recorded at the Yellow Arch Studios in… yep, you guessed it… Sheffield!

Next up is the spine-tingling Standing At The Sky’s Edge, which tells the stories of folk who lived in the dilapidated Park Hill council estate flats, rising high above the rear of Sheffield Railway Station.

The song and album inspired the award-winning theatre show of the same name, which led Hawley to being the unlikely recipient of a prestigious Olivier Award last year.

Not many musicians can put together a love song quite like Richard Hawley, and that’s evidenced in his performances of classics like
Tonight the Streets Are Ours, Coles Corner, andthe always stunning Just Like the Rain.

The latter which was written when he was just 16 years old, Hawley tells his adoring fans. “Which goes to prove that even then I was a miserable fucker!”

That’s one thing that about a Richard Hawley gig. You’re always promised a decent sprinkling of comedic value during his crowd interactions, in addition to a cracking evening of live music.

Prior to the customary encore, stellar performances of 16 tunes from his range of albums end with the atmospheric Down in the Woods and personal favourite Heart of Oak.

After leaving the stage, they return a short while later to bring the set to a close with an encore of new track People, I’m Looking for Someone to Find Me and a beautiful ten-minute, guitar solo-clad delivery of The Ocean.

“Gracias, as they say here in Wolverhampton,” jokes Hawley, as he and the band prepare to head off into the darkness. “Farewell from Sheffield, to you in Wolverhampton.”

Review and photographs: Tom Oakley

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