Darren Hayman at the Lexington, London

3.00

 

Darren Hayman, who bears more than a passing resemblance to “McLovin” in Superbad, welcomed the New Year in with an intimate (approximately 70 people, some of whom even pointed out tiny discrepancies in Hayman's anecdotes), stripped-down, free and upsettingly stunted set, in which the singer-songwriter didn’t even perform on stage, but to the side of it.

The endearingly geeky 41-year-old from Brentwood, Essex deals in kinky, droll vignettes about sexual dysfunction and confusion, desperate relationships (“Where were you when the roof tiles let the rain through” on “Old House”) and bittersweet regret. And, after confessing to a “slightly, grumpy confrontational start”, we are treated to his distinctive brand of melancholy and his impressive, twang-loaded vocals, which sound like a blend of Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus.

His affecting warble is a triumph on the likes “The Comedians”, and splendid again on the exquisite break-up song “It Was Over”, with the warped lyric: “She was big around the hips/ Licking pickle from her lips". It's a track from his insanely ambitious project, January Songs, in which Hayman wrote, produced and released a song on every day of January 2011. He has decided to release the songs as an album later this month, each record graced with a different hand-drawn picture from Hayman himself. The musician is nothing if not generous, forever engaging with his small audience, regaling us with tales of 17-century Essex witches and dead dogs before performing “Vinegar Tom”, and wittering on about the emotional fallout of listening to “Red Red Wine” when he was 13: “It was always the sound of someone missing out”.

The former frontman for Hefner, a band championed by John Peel, is in the mould of other erudite, witty British lyricists such as Billy Bragg, Jarvis Cocker, Paul Heaton and Neil Hannon. He’s that good. The highlight here, though, is Elizabeth Morris, from Allo Darlin, performing a low-key rendition of Hayman’s“I Know I Fucked Up”, from his new album; which fades out on “You were the best friend I almost had.” It gets the best response during this rather unusual afternoon performance.

After seven numbers, Hayman admits “That was as much as I selfishly wanted to do.”Thankfully, he does deliver the wonderful "Big Fish" with the angry lyric “Life here got way too brown”, from his finest album, Pram Town, a concept record about Harlow. And that’s it. No time for "Eastbourne Lights" and "The Greedy, Ugly People". But, despite a polite call for more, Hayman stops, entering the crowd to chat to pals. It was free...

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor