Think of Sheffield and you might conjure up images of the City of steel, United & Wednesday. Where do heartfelt love songs fit into that? It may be ‘grim oop north’ but it certainly hasn’t damaged the wonderful song writing talent of a certain Mr Hawley. He took to the stage bedecked in leather jacket and turn up jeans and do you know what, he rocked the shit out of the Savoy. It was an interesting crowd on the night; a mixture of hipsters and oldies but the one defining characteristic was that they were here to appreciate a master song smith at work. It’s a tribute to Hawley’s on-going critical appeal that the venue was packed to the rafters for his latest show on Leeside.
Hawley delivered a set chockfull of outstanding numbers with gusto and standouts included ‘Open up your door’ and ‘Before’. There was a nice line in banter with the crowd it made for a typically accomplished night’s entertainment. I must admit I wasn’t overly sold on his stuff before the gig but after seeing him in the flesh I’m a convert. All too often an act can garner the affection of the muso critics and fall flat in person but as soon as he kicked off proceedings with the new album’s titular track “Standing at the sky’s edge” you just knew you were in for something a little bit special. This wasn’t a jaded performer going through the motions, this was a singer who connects with his crowd from telling people to yap away if they like during the quiet numbers to telling us about his kite flying adventures on acid. Hawley has an easy and unaffected stage presence that translates into a relaxed atmosphere that perfectly reflected his seemingly effortless style.
An encore was never in doubt and the crowd were in full voice as they roared their appreciation. “Lady Solitude” and “The Ocean” brought proceedings to a close and the first big act to hit the Savoy since its recent re-opening left this audience elated and delighted in equal measure. Alt-J might have scooped the Mercury this year but they only wish they could pull off a leather jacket and NHS specs with such ease. A truly wonderful night from a very special talent