Richard Hawley brought his new psychedelic sound to Lincoln’s Engine Shed on Sunday September 30, offering an intriguing departure from his signature melancholy retro pop.
Despite being an incredibly successful and popular musician for many years, it now seems that Hawley is receiving the attention and accolades he most definitely deserves. Not only was his latest album Standing at the Sky’s Edge nominated for a prestigious Mercury Prize Award, but it also reached number three in the charts, his highest showing yet.
Supported by the beautifully hushed sounds of Irish folk singer Lisa Hannigan, Hawley and his band took to the foliage-laden stage (which actually featured six small trees) and kicked off proceedings with a new track, the incredibly dark and brooding ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’. It was a real indicator of the sonic direction in which the musician has moved. Drenched in reverb of the most psychedelic sort, Hawley looked completely at ease with this much heavier form of music.
Crowd interaction was always going to be at a premium with the Sheffield born Hawley possessing such sharp wit. “What do you do in Lincoln? Actually, don’t tell me.” Anecdotes were also aplenty, and a tongue in cheek tale of an elderly woman accidentally uttering a raunchy euphemism at the Lincoln Christmas Market had the crowd bellowing with laughter.
‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’ was proceeded by the singer telling the crowd the setting in which he wrote it: “This song was written whilst flying a kite with my son, which may seem innocuous and dull, but I was completely off my head on acid. Please don’t report me.”
A start steeped in shoegaze then dramatically changed direction with a return to his more familiar and delicate roots with ‘Hotel Room’ and ‘Remorse Code’. Although the songs saw a significant reduction in volume, the crowd remained just as captivated as they were for his newer, more enveloping tracks. ‘Soldier On’, off his 2009 album Truelove’s Gutter, summed up the whole set, featuring a lusciously soft build up followed by a full-frontal assault of noise.
A double encore consisted of beautifully performed renditions of ‘Lady Solitude’ and ‘The Ocean’, before Hawley thanked for the crowd for coming despite ‘how heavy things are financially out there’.
After laying down a masterpiece in balancing old and new, romantic and bludgeoning, Hawley set off for his Sheffield home, safe in the knowledge that no one in this Lincoln crowd will be reporting him any time soon.