Wednesday, 27 March, 2024 in Music

Into Live Music Review: Hamish Hawk at Barrowland

Concert: Hamish Hawk
Venue: Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom
Date: 10 February 2024
Around eighteen months ago, a good friend messaged me with the offer of a spare ticket to see Hamish Hawk play a gig at my local library in Greenock. It was last minute and unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. Like a few concerts I’ve missed over the years, it is now considered the stuff of legend and myth down our way. Perhaps even Inverclyde’s equivalent of the Sex Pistols 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gig in Manchester…
I vowed at the time not to make the same mistake again and I managed to see Hawk and his band play a cracking show at St Luke’s in early 2023. Roll forward twelve months, and it was time to see if he could deliver in Glasgow’s spiritual home for live music –  the mighty Barrowland Ballroom.
The signs were good. It was a Saturday night, the gig was sold out and I had a designated driver for the evening (thank you Lorna).
While we were too late to catch the support band for the evening, we did get to see Imogen and Ellie from Voka Gentle on stage later with Hawk.
I’ve been going to The Barrowland for over forty years nowand I can still vividly recall Big Country’s Hogmanay show in 1983. Every time I’ve ventured to the venue since, that tingling feeling returns as soon as I see the Barrowland star-studded illuminated façade, walk up the Biffy Clyro stairs, and swing the double doors open to what remains my musical paradise.
Reflecting on a documentary a while back, an artist said that they thought what made a Barrowlands show unique was it was the only gig they played where a contribution from the artist was matched equally by that of the audience. Of course, every crowd is different, and tonight was especially eclectic; however, from the noise created pre-show, one could tell that it was going to be another of those very special evenings.
Hawk opened with fans favourite Calls To Tiree and the crowd responded in unison; the marker set and and it never let up from there. The playlist was drawn mainly from the last two albums Heavy Elevator and Angel Numbers, but there were also a couple of new songs which were rocky and a possible portent of where Hawk’s heading next. 
The Highlights? Early on, guest singer Lizzie Reid duetted with Hawk on Rest & Veneers which was blissful and lovely, the call and response singing with the crowd during Bridget St John was a perfect example of that 50/50 contribution of artist and audience that makes the venue so special.
A few songs later, Imogen & Ellie from Voka Gentle joined the band to sing backing vocals on the live debut of Once Upon An Acid Glance. Let’s hope the band finds a way to keep it in the set, it has a chiming Simple Minds, New Gold Dream era feel to it.
At this point, the band left the stage, leaving Hawk in the spotlight, with acoustic guitar, to perform Catherine Opens A Window, a song recorded back in 2018. Bearing in mind that this was the Barrowland on a Saturday night, it was almost mystical to listen to the song in absolute silence. One could hear a pin drop. On the surface, it’s a song about playing in the street with his pal back in the day:

“And its one, two, three, steps in the cul-de-sac
You & me, your feet on the ground
Mine hitting your back, we’re running so fast
We smash into the bins”

However, it hints at so much more, and Hawk seemed to be in another place and time when performing it.

“I remember Michaela, I remember her last name
I knew she could dance, I knew she could hide
And that she won a netball game
But she’s gone now, sticks in the corner….”

It is an outstanding song. The contrast between this acoustic performance and the rest of the set was jarring, but was all the better for it.

From there it was a victory procession through some classics, with Money & Think Of Us Kissing both showcasing the five-piece band to full effect. To finish, it was a double whammy that perfectly demonstrated the different song styles and personas that Hawk can bring to a performance, from the Morrissey/Cocker party anthem The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion 1973, to the classic post-punk sound of Caterpillar.

Hamish Hawk didn’t say too much in between songs this evening, however it was clear when he left the stage how emotional he was. He also doesn’t really do encores but tonight was a wonderful exception to that rule and with a reputation for playing some memorable covers during his live sets, tonight we were treated to a version of Debaser by The Pixies that absolutely shredded through the venue. So much so, that the lead guitarist Andrew Pearson literally fell over whilst playing and had to be carried off the stage, a bit like The Sex Pistols in Manchester in 1976! 

As Hawk put on his Facebook page post gig “It’s Rock n’ roll, nuff said”…

Early contender for gig of the year? You bet!!!

Keep up with Hamish Hawk via the website here

Brian Davidson



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