Richard Hawley comes up trumps when chips are down

Richard Hawley at the Sage Gateshead.

Richard Hawley at the Sage Gateshead.

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Live review: Richard Hawley at the Sage Gateshead

Singer-songwriter Richard Hawley is a lucky man in many respects.

The 48-year-old has the booming baritone of a latter-day Lee Hazlewood, the guitar skills of a younger Dick Dale or Duane Eddy and a winning way with words.

His good luck appears to run out when it comes to hailing a cab, however.

Regaling his audience at the Sage Gateshead with one of a series of well-received humourous anecdotes delivered with all the panache and timing of, say, Jim Bowen in his prime, the Sheffield-born star revealed that a Newcastle taxi driver had told him earlier that day the reason why the city, along with the town he was playing in, had purportedly been twinned with Las Vegas.

“They’re the only two places you can pay for sex with chips,” deadpanned the former Pulp guitarist, adding that he would be heading out in search of a chippy later on.

Going by reviews of earlier shows on this tour, however, he appears to have been similarly misinformed in Manchester, Dublin and Scarborough, quite possibly among other places.

To come across one such taxi driver could be considered unfortunate, but for it to happen repeatedly looks like carelessness.

His audience, however, were anything but unfortunate as Hawley was on cracking form during a short but sweet set clocking in at under an hour and a half.

“We’re back,” he announced as he took to the stage for his second show at the venue, his first being six years ago, and a capacity crowd were given plenty of cause to be grateful that he’d returned.

His latest album, Hollow Meadows, accounted for much of his excellent set, and, it being one of his best, that was no bad thing at all.

Among the tunes from the new LP, a No 9 hit following its release in September, played by Hawley and his four-piece backing band were set opener Which Way, Heart of Oak and Tuesday PM.

Its predecessor, 2012’s Standing at the Sky’s Edge, was also given a good showing, and its title track, played three songs in, was one of the highlights of the night, offering Hawley and fellow guitarist Shez Sheridan the chance to show off their formidable talents.

If the only quibble you can think of about a concert is that it was too short, you know it was a good one, and that was the case here, with Hawley bowing out a good quarter of an hour before the venue’s 10.30pm curfew.

Presumably, he couldn’t wait to get to a fish-and-chip shop.