Richard Hawley: Grand Central Hall, Liverpool

Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley

As Richard Hawley kicked off Liverpool Music Week, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson was left mesmerised at Grand Central Hall.

We’re a bit spoilt in Liverpool sometimes. For a city of our size, to have the choice of going to see seven different high profile gigs on one night is pretty crazy. With Liverpool Music Week kicking off in style you could have picked between the opening party at the Kazimier, Richard Hawley at Grand Central Hall or Palaces at DIY’s first Breaking Out show. Elsewhere in the city you could have ventured in to the Baltic Triangle for Liverpool Soul Fest, caught Joe Bonamassa at the Echo Arena, or, if you’re a bit of a meff, gone to see the Wombats or the Cribs. It’s fair to say it was a busy night in town.

Most people it seems chose Richard Hawley, who opened Liverpool Music Week in the criminally underused Dome at Grand Central Hall. A building which is quite simply stunning, and should certainly be used for more shows in the future. With the Kazimier closing, who knows, maybe we will get to see it a bit more.

Performing a career spanning set with several tracks from his latest record, Hollow Meadows, Hawley mesmerised a jam packed crowd with his smooth, soaring sounds. The bar was set early on with some early big hitters in Tonight The Streets Are Ours and Standing On The Sky’s Edge sounding spectacular in the cavernous amphitheatre like venue. The former, with its almost Italian sounding introduction is one of the more upbeat moments of the set and shows off the band’s solid musicianship. The sound which drives the intro and chorus’ conjures images of little Italian restaurants in Mafia movies, with Hawley’s vocals more expansive than his usual crooner style, making the track a real standout, uplifting moment. A real contrast to Standing On The Sky’s Edge, a dark, haunting slow burner with a rolling blues guitar riff and driving thud of a drumbeat.

Read our guide to the rest of Liverpool Music Week

There’s something unusual about Hawley’s style and almost cult-hero status, in that there’s not really anything about that sounds anything like it. His voice recalls some of the crooning icons of times long gone, while his music floats between blues tinged rock and folk, without ever really settling in one genre. It’s kind of timeless and hard to pinpoint, which is probably a huge part of its appeal. The whole set, even down to Hawley’s old rocker look, is just completely compelling. His guitar playing us almost virtuosic, with some huge soaring riffs and chiming solos making appearances throughout.

The performance draws to a close with latest solo Heart of Oak ending the main set, a song which is a bit of an anomaly to his other work with a more straight rock and roll but picked up the pace again after a couple of slower tracks like Open Up Your Door. There was only one way to end the encore though, the anthemic The Ocean from 2005’s Coles Corner. The track sounded phenomenal in the atmospheric setting of the Dome, with expansive string sounds and driving guitars building up to a huge crescendo. The perfect ending to a show from a true great of music.

Pictures by Getintothis’ John Johnson.