Music review: Richard Hawley at the HMV Forum

16:40 14 June 2012

Richard Hawley. Picture: PA/Joel Ryan.

Richard Hawley. Picture: PA/Joel Ryan.

PA/PA Photos

A wheelchair-bound Hawley delivers an enchanting performance at the Kentish Town venue

It’s all been a bit eventful in Richard Hawley’s life recently.

Last month, his seventh solo album Standing At The Sky’s Edge debuted at number three in the charts and was afforded a universal thumbs up by the British music press.

During a trip to Barcelona earlier this month, leather-soled shoes and a marble staircase quite literally brought the 45-year-old crashing back down to earth.

The unfortunate fall left Hawley with a broken fibula and suddenly cast doubt over a string of live appearances scheduled this month.

Valiantly, the former Longpigs and Pulp guitarist took to his fans forum and vowed “by hell or high water” to do every show as planned.

True to his word, the Sheffield crooner arrived on stage at the HMV Forum last Friday, albeit on four wheels.

Hobbling from his wheelchair to a seat at the centre of the stage, the sight of Hawley surrounded by an array of leafy stage props, his own indoor arboretum for the night, was somewhat surreal.

Doused in a hazy smog with dim purple lighting, the stage was transformed into a psychedelic woodland mirage with Hawley delivering an equally enchanting performance.

Opening with the album’s title track, he told the sell-out crowd: “Well – as you can see we’ll be Sitting At The Sky’s Edge tonight.”

Drawing much of the evening’s set list from his latest offering, Hawley’s harder, edgier new sound was on full display with blistering renditions of Don’t Stare at the Sun and the new album’s thrilling lead single Leave Your Body Behind You.

Fans of Hawley’s more swooning nostalgic back catalogue were not left disappointed though with live outings for Häagen-Dazs favourite Open Up Your Door and the masterful Tonight the Streets Are Ours.

Wheeled off stage by a chaperone for the obligatory encore preparations, Hawley returned to close the show with For Your Lover, Give Some Time from 2009’s Truelove’s Gutter followed by a rousing version of Coles Corner single The Ocean.

The Mercury Music Prize may have eluded Hawley in 2006 due to another celebrated Sheffield act but with an album as weighty as this latest one, there’s no reason why the prize can’t return to the Steel City in November.

* Richard Hawley performed at the HMV Forum in Highgate Road, NW5, on Friday, June 8.

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