You can tell when you enter a room how revered an artist is by the demeanour of their fans, for this gig it was obvious that the respect in the room was huge. Sunday the 30th of September saw 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated singer/songwriter Richard Hawley and Lisa Hannigan grace the Engine Shed and a beautiful gig ensued. The stage was kitted out with a plethora of floral arrangements. What for? Well, that was difficult to know. But it didn’t half look nice!
The setting was perfect for the ethereal acoustic driven melodies of support act Lisa Hannigan, who was playing her first gig in Lincoln. Hannigan opened her set in a typically understated way, with just her, the audience and an acoustic guitar during opener ‘Little Birds’. The song was a brilliant statement from Hannigan, as it showed off her fantastic voice and had the audience on her side immediately.
‘Passenger’ was an equally ethereal and beautiful track which showcased her astounding vocal range and showed everyone the talents of her full band. The softly-spoken Irish songstress wasn’t just there to leave everyone spellbound by her fantastic acoustic music. No, she was also ready for a casual rock-off, which during ‘Kind’ saw Hannigan don her rock shoes and stomp around.
To finish off her short set the three members of her band, Hannigan included, huddled around a microphone for the finale. It was a stirringly, soulful effort which had the entire audience encapsulated. Many of them may have just come for Hawley, but I can imagine many left with Hannigan fresh in their minds.
The atmosphere in the room changed as the lights dropped for the main attraction, Richard Hawley, who entered the stage and the crowd of 40-somethings proceeded to roar in approval. Their hero had arrived.
The set chugged into life with the title track of Hawley’s new album, ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’. As a slow-burning, heavy brute of a song, it had the entire crowd bobbing their heads to the massive beat. Hawley’s legendary status meant that once the epic of a song finished he could take a breather and generally just have a chat with the audience.
Now while he may only have been to Lincoln for the first time today, the crowd were obviously warming to him. His regular anecdotes in-between songs provided a witty commentary to an intimate gig. His crooning style of delivery made for a slightly one-toned gig; however, the sheer force and power of the music it was played to made up for it wholeheartedly.
Songs like ‘Remorse Code’ and ‘Soldier On’ were performed with a power the Engine Shed hadn’t seen for a while. Sure, the Subways may have ran a great 30-minute set the night before, but they can’t even compete with the level of epic Hawley was reaching for in this gig.
The gig finished with a well-earned encore where Hawley tore through renditions of ‘Lady Solitude’ and ‘The Ocean’. Let’s be honest, Hawley could have come on stage and rested on his laurels, but he instead Hawley rose to the occasion and delivered a set which made me realise how much he deserves his legendary status.