Friday, December 7th, 2007

Tonight The Streets Are Ours

I’m as guilty as anyone, but it’s unfortunate that most writeups about Richard Hawley make mention of his time with Pulp – though that was barely more than a walk-on – and The Longpigs. Not because those aren’t good to have on one’s resume, though one obviously moreso than the other, but because it says absolutely nothing about the work he’s done as a solo artist and if one’s biased against Britpoppery, may prompt them to overlook a remarkable artist.

With his deep, twanging guitarwork and rich, baritone croon, Hawley hearkens to an era that predates retro and comes across as timeless. Deeply inspired by his hometown of Sheffield, England, Hawley’s music is some of the most unabashedly romantic stuff you’ll ever hear and so Wednesday night, his first-ever show in Toronto as a solo artist – in support of his latest album Lady’s Bridge – and first visit to town in any capacity in twelve years, was one to have circled on your calendar in permanent ink.

Support on this tour was Ferraby Lionheart, who brought a croon of his own, though much higher and breezier than Hawley’s, and a parcel of songs that also drew from the past – namely the ’70s singer-songwriters of his native California. I found his set to be more engaging than his latest record Catch The Brass Ring which was pleasant and laid back to the point of innocuousness. Which isn’t to say that he and his band rocked it out onstage – hardly – but Lionheart has an engaging sort of presence onstage and you couldn’t help but appreciate the band’s meticulous attention to detail when it came to their arrangements.

Hawley and his band look exactly as you’d want, considering the music they play. Elegantly besuited and armed with an arsenal of the most beautiful guitars you ever did see, Hawley and co dazzled the packed house like the seasoned pros they are. They deftly recreated the huge, lush orchestrations of Hawley’s four records onstage with more volume and more guitarwork, though curiously Hawley opted to stick to rhythm duties for the first bit of the show. It was only towards the end that he took over lead duties from his touring guitarist and demonstrate what he could do on the six-string, culminating in a staggering reading of “The Ocean” to close the encore. I hadn’t put in my earplugs and didn’t bother at the final song – if I was going to go deaf, the having Hawley’s wailing ES-335 being the last thing I heard certainly wasn’t a bad way to go. And as entertaining as he was musically, Hawley was just as much fun as a frontman with an easy, dry English wit and an flair for the fine art of between-song banter. Truly a splendid night and if there was any complaint, it’s that at not much over an hour it felt far too short.

eye and The Globe & Mail also have glowing reviews of the show, iAfrica and WERS have conversations with the man and Stereogum offers up some video footage of a recent in-store in New York City. And Ferraby Lionheart’s Daytrotter session is now up.

Photos: Richard Hawley, Ferraby Lionheart @ The Horseshoe – December 5, 2007
MP3: Richard Hawley – “The Nights Are Cold” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “I’m On Nights” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “It’s Over Love” (acoustic)
MP3: Richard Hawley – “Precious Sight” (acoustic)
Video: Richard Hawley – “Tonight The Streets Are Ours” (YouTube)
Video: Richard Hawley – “Serious” (YouTube)
Video: Ferraby Lionheart – “A Crack In Time” (YouTube)
Video: Ferraby Lionheart – “Small Planet” (YouTube)
MySpace: Richard Hawley
MySpace: Ferraby Lionheart

UK it-girl in waiting, Kate Nash, seeks to begin her reign over 2008 with an uber-short North American tour kicking off January 7th in Toronto at the Mod Club.

New videos from Radiohead, Emma Pollock and The Pipettes.. Grok below.

Video: Radiohead – “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” (YouTube)
Video: Emma Pollock – “Paper & Glue”
Video: The Pipettes – “It’s Not Love (But It’s Still a Feeling)”

JamBase talks to Josh Ritter, in town at the Phoenix on March 4.

The Moscow Times runs up the phone bill talking to Aaron Dessner of The National. Actually that’s not true. They probably used VOIP.

Drowned In Sound talks to Sufjan Stevens about the art of the Christmas song.

Feist tells Billboard about nearly crashing her car in a blizzard upon hearing she’d been nominated for four Grammy awards. And if you’re one of those with tickets to her upcoming sold-out Toronto show at the Sony Centre, then you already know that the February 18 date has been postponed to May 13.

And Mr Feist, Kevin Drew, is on the cover of this month’s BeatRoute. He/Broken Social Scene are at the Kool Haus tomorrow night.

Basia Bulat will be doing an in-store at Criminal Records on Queen West next Wednesday night, December 12, at 7PM for a session to be recorded for CBC Radio 3. She’ll be opening up a string of dates for Hayden in January but not, it seems, his February 19 date at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.

Also nominated for a Grammy, Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky for “Best Rock Album”. Do the Grammy people even LISTEN to the records they nominate? The Associated Press has a lengthy-ish feature on the band.

Coming March 18 – DeVotchKa’s new album A Mad And Faithful Telling. Drowned In Sound has the tracklisting.

AllMusic offers up their guide to “Crush Bands of 2007”.

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Jerad says:

    I saw Richard’s show in Cambridge a couple of days ago. I agree that you can’t help but mention Pulp when talking about him, but his solo stuff can more than stand on its own. Still, it was fun to hear his story about him and Jarvis swilling a litre of straight vodka before their first Jools Holland appearance in ’98.

  2. Karl says:

    "Do the Grammy people even LISTEN to the records they nominate?"
    The evidence would tend to suggest not:

  3. TitoP says:

    What an awesome blog. I was just searching for info. on DeVotchka and happened across the post on Richard Hawley. Got his CD the other day b/c I keep seeing his name. Looking forward to enjoying it with a few glasses of wine on a winter’s night at home. He could be a good companion to DeVotchka. Dying to hear what their next one will be like: a continuation of their desperate desert romance or a departure. And, no, the Grammy folks can’t be bothered. They’ve got dicks in their ears.

  4. Ricky says:

    I really wished he woulda played ‘baby, your my light’..and that horsehoe turned down the temperature or had some ventilation.