...a unity of eyes and firelight...

Dan Haywood’s New Hawks

In Live Reviews, Music on April 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

(supporting A Hawk and a Hacksaw)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Islington Mill, Salford

I am rather partial to bands with loads of people on stage.  These guys had a total of nine, so I had a good feeling as soon as they came on.  Dan himself was a slender figure, and initially a touch awkward.  But he ingratiated himself with some good banter with the crowd, greeting us as Manchester before correcting himself.  This is Salford, of course.

And so they kicked off, with an alt-folk, country sound.  What I normally like about having this many people on stage is the anarchic, seemingly uncontrolled sound created.  But this was far from anarchic, all the playing tightly managed by Haywood.  His swivelling, pointing and gesturing kept everything exceedingly neat for the most part.  So if the many members of the band did not create anarchy, what did they create?  A wonderfully three-dimensional texture which drew the crowd in and created an irresistible excitement.

Haywood’s squeezed vocal range reminded me of a more slight Ian Dury, but with a great deal more folky soul.  The flyer quoted a review in Wire, comparing the band to Rolling Thunder era Dylan, and I find this spot-on.  His voice only helped to accentuate the overwhelming rush of sound coming from the other players, many of whom were multi-instrumentalists.  It was good to see that most of them were also from the North West, including Manchester legend, Paddy Steer on lap steel and bass.

Irreverent yet soulful, vast in scope yet tightly controlled, this band was a welcome surprise and, for me (cover your ears) even better than the superb main act.

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