REVIEW: Richard Hawley, Picturedrome, Holmfirth

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It’s quite apt that Richard Hawley should start his latest tour at a venue also used for showing movies.

For a start there is the cinematic quality of much of his material - you can imagine his ballads being used for the last scene of a love story as a couple clinch, while the newer material leans more towards psychedelia from a ‘60s arthouse cult classic.

Then there is the romance of his own story...that of a long-standing sidekick to the (Sheffield) stars who somehow manages to find himself in a leading role and perseveres to make the most of it. It took him a long time to fulfil his potential and find his excellent voice and to realise that others would like him in front rather than hiding in the shadows.

He has certainly gained a fanatical following; attendees at this intimate venue tell tales of following his every live move and even staking out Fagans in the hope of seeing him supping a pint.

There is, of course, also a television connection to Holmfirth, as the place where they filmed sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine Hawley refers to himself and the band as ‘last of the summer winos’). Unlike that show’s eternal plot, things are definitely not going downhill after the latest album; Standing At The Sky’s Edge proved any momentum is upwards by almost topping the charts.

Unlike the previous weekend’s Magna performance, there was no orchestra backing but his band make enough noise on their own, ranging from almost hard rock on some of the Sky’s Edge songs to delicate brushes of sound on the older stuff.

He and they appear on home territory soon, via two City Hall dates. To use movie parlance, these will be a ‘must see.’

John Quinn