It had somehow been years since I was last at the Joiners, so a trip out to see Edinburgh’s Hamish Hawk play Southampton was a welcomed prospect. After all, he’d certainly won a few hearts having seen him live at Rockaway Beach Festival earlier in the year.
As for this evening, the room may have been much smaller in scale, but the demographic was still very much aimed towards us slightly older folk.
Another thing that was clearly obvious, this was an audience purely there for the music. In fact, the only sound to be heard during an acoustic support slot by the wonderful Lizzie Reid was that of a nearby electric fan.
It was a respect Lizzie duly deserved, opening her soul with a set of personal reflection. Her lyrics may often be about love and heartbreak, but this wasn’t your standard singer songwriter territory. You felt drawn in, longing to know the outcome of Lizzie Reid’s innermost feelings… plus the imaginary trumpet solo was rather befitting of the occasion too.
When it came to Hamish Hawk, the intro tape implied musically things were about to become a bit more lively, as he and his band made their way through the crowd.
If there’s anyone that can command a stage, it’s our man from Scotland. Forever animated, Hamish Hawk visually engages with the audience while having the time of his life.
The set opened with a couple of tracks straight from new album “Angel Numbers” and we’re soon up and running. The latest release every bit as good as 2021s “Heavy Elevator”, with Hamish delivering vocals that are as emotionally powerful live as they are on record.
One of the great things about both releases is the artists way with words. It’s storytelling at its finest. Even during slower tunes such as “Bridget St John” Hamish Hawk doesn’t lose any momentum. As on those rare occasions that he’s not being quite as theatrical, a simple gaze into the distance is all it takes to symbolise the song’s poignant and thought-provoking mood.
Elsewhere in the set, the more upbeat “Think of us Kissing” is one of many personal highlights. Meanwhile the likes of “Bakerloo, Uncoming” allows space for his guitarist to absolutely let rip. It’s met with rapturous applause, creating a natural bridge to the would-be-encore.
Next it was a real fan-favourite: “The Mauritian Doubles Badminton Champion, 1973” may not have the catchiest of titles, but it’s without doubt an absolute belter of a tune.
So, how do you follow that? Well, when it comes to choosing a cover song, at times you could well-imagine Hamish to vocally suit something by The Cure or Bauhaus. Alas, the band instead opted for a surprisingly punked up version of “Thank you for Sending me an Angel” by Talking Heads.
Hamish Hawk may have been live at the Joiners this evening, but I get the impression it won’t be long until he’s back headlining the Guildhall.
Words by Keith Sandys