Richard Hawley with support from Sophie Solomon (Manchester Academy 3, 14/11/2005)
Steeped in 70s influences the buoyant violinist Sophie Solomon painted a mysterious and mind opening picture of an enigmatic person in 'Lazarus'. The use of a tumultuous string section that incorporated the leading lady on violin as well a pulsing double bass element, helped to give a vibrantly throbbing feel to heave up the set, instrumentally speaking. An intriguing noire element was prevalent, adding to the palatability of the brief and bold opener.
'Burnt By The Sun' that was both careering and troubled, worked as a scalding example of the flighty yet plaintive nature of this earnest artist's work. 'The Nights Are Cold' continued a foray into the elements; containing wandering male vocals that are sung by Richard Hawley on the forthcoming album entitled; 'Poison Sweat Madeira'. Sophie left the crowd feeling refreshed, but with a lot to dwell upon.
An evening of gritty nostalgia was always on the cards from a Morrissey and Tom Waites skirting Richard Hawley, as he paraded numbers from his three albums inclusive of tempting tracks from new full length offering; 'Coles Corner'. Sentimentality and sappiness have always been as difficult to separate as conjoined twins. However, title track from latest album that is a celebration of a meeting place utilised by many generations of Sheffield citizens, including Hawley's parents and grandparents drew the line quite comfortably.
Straightforward honesty and banter delivered with brevity made Hawley an endearing and compelling artist to watch for over 90 minutes. Automated emotion was brought to life via 'The Motorcycle Song', in such a stirring manner that has not been seen since Kuku! The Emotional Robot. Country, folk jazz and blues were thrown into the diverse mix to round off a gripping evening of independent artistry.