Cambridge Corn Exchange, Feb 4

TWELVE years ago, I saw Richard Hawley on stage at my first ever indie gig. Back then he was guitarist in The Longpigs and I was at university – beginning to immerse myself in the final flashes of the Brit-pop explosion . Just for the record, The Longpi

TWELVE years ago, I saw Richard Hawley on stage at my first ever indie gig. Back then he was guitarist in The Longpigs and I was at university - beginning to immerse myself in the final flashes of the 'Brit-pop explosion'.

Just for the record, The Longpigs were amazing that night and despite his incredible music, Hawley, left, was just an anonymous guitarist in The Smoke and remained so to me for the next decade.

Years later, I was one of many people completely seduced by his breakthrough album Coles Corner and his latest recording Lady's Bridge.

Hawley displays a wry sense of humour between songs, delivering cynical one-liners in his knowing northern accent. Most are peppered, somehow charmingly, with the f-word.


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He connects effortlessly with the crowd and even takes the time to ask the best place to have a drink in Cambridge after the show.

When almost unanimous shouts of "The Eagle" reach the stage he replies: "That's where they discovered DNA or something isn't it - we're always working out stuff like that on beermats in Sheffield, just no one ever takes any notice of us."

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Well, let's pay great attention to Hawley's music because it is rich, emotional and timeless. It's dripping with the influence of Scott Walker - all strings, intricate guitars, melodrama and a beautifully wise voice.

Maybe the whole world would disagree with me, but I'm so glad Walker's the recluse and not the magnificent Richard Hawley.

The sounds from the stage tonight are a classy mix.

The dramatic deep drums, the keyboard strings, his earthy voice all send you back to a time when rock was more majestic. And between all of this, his fantastic electric guitar sound stood out from a decade of gigs.

Its deep chiselling twang seemed to carve out rugged melodies in the air.

Together with his classy, charming songs, it all combined into one of the best shows I've seen for a long time.

CHRIS BOLAND

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