As I stepped into the once home of Britain’s fascist movement, all seems well. I’m greeted by the sounds of Sir Richard of Hawley’s first support act, Tom Hickox. The traditional sounds of the violin meet with the heavy cello and Hickox’s own baritone voice in a somewhat struggled harmony. At this point, the previous perceptions of the building are lost as you are transfixed by the second support act, Sheffield’s own The Crookes, despite their frightfully Aryan appearance. The wild head-bobbing of the lead singer emphasises the enjoyment that they are here sharing their music with London’s Troxy. The joy and hopelessly jubilant tones of the Crookes are contagious as the audience starts toe-tapping to a time that would take many of them back to the 80s and a certain band called The Housemartins.
Blasts from the past both good and bad are all forgotten when Richard and his merry men finally take to the stage. Looking a bit like Brian Potter, Mr. Hawley proceeds to tell us to why it is he is sitting in a wheelchair. Turns out it was “bloody kid’s birthday party in Barcelona” and that marble is “a slippy b******”.
Throughout the concert at regular intervals Richard Hawley regales us with tales and anecdotes that provoke heckles, and at times you forget you are there for music and not for comedy – that is, until the lounge tones begin coming from one of the many rockabilly guitars in Hawley’s possession. His deep voice accompanies occasional ballads but most of the concert is shrouded in screeching, heavy but catchy music from Hawley’s latest album Standing at the Sky’s Edge. I find myself lost in the notes produced from the group as so many others do too. The stage is covered in trees that make the audience feel they are in the middle of a wood hanging on every smooth action from the man himself.
Hawley constantly recalls the music-industry soundbite that “he’ll never change”; after such a wonderful night full of so much variation in music accompanied by the harmony of Richard Hawley and his band, it is hard to question his integrity. An evening of great music, great company and a phoenix rising from the ashes. Wonderful.