Richard Hawley is a master of many dying arts, not the least of which is joke-telling. He’s a funny guy in general, but Hawley also knows how to deliver a punchline, the kind of which went out of fashion here around the same time as subscribing to Playboy. Some of them flowed seamless from personal anecdotes about songs, you could tell they were well-rehearsed bits, so I won’t spoil any of them here in case he uses them on any of the remaining dates of his first-ever U.S. tour.
The Bowery show Saturday night was the first night of that tour and he had the crowd right where he wanted from minute one. The show was a lot like his Sin-e performance in March of last year. Hawley is a pro, as are his ace backing band, and his velvet croon was in perfect form. It was such a class act, it’s one of the few times I wish the show had been somewhere like Joe’s Pub, which would have been the perfect place to see him. (He’s actually played there before, solo acoustic in July 2005 — his only other NYC show was the Sin-e gig.) And we only got one song from Late Night Final ("Something Is"), and none from Lowedges or his debut. But when the mirrorball came on for his waltz-time single, "Hotel Room," it was one of those perfect moments where you felt happy to be just where you are.
Setlist: Valentine | Roll River Roll |Just Like the Rain | Dark Road | Coles Corner | Tonight The Streets Are Ours | Lady’s Bridge | Hotel Room | Serious | Darlin’ Wait For Me | Our Darkness | The Sea Calls | Born Under A Bad Sign | Something Is | I’m Looking For Someone To Find Me | Encore: Tonight | The Ocean
If you weren’t able to make the show, NYC Taper was there and has his whole show available as lossless FLAC downloads. Also there: Brooklyn Vegan, Yeti Don’t Dance, PunkPhoto, Disconap, Ugly Floral Blouse, Fresh Bread, and probably more.
Hawley also plays a free acoustic show at Other Music on Monday (12/3) at 8pm.