Gig review: Haim, Roundhouse, London


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Recently I became so sick of seeing LA rock sisters Haim on every website, magazine and spare bit of wall, that I proposed a drinking game: a shot for every glimpse of their faces. I soon realised no one needs to be that drunk.

And yet, though it’s been merely a year to the day since fame vaulted them from support act at last year’s iTunes festival to Roundhouse headliners in their own right, it’s hard to really resent their ubiquity.

For one thing, they’re appreciative of this country’s role in their swift success (as well as our confectionery - Este cadges Jelly Tots from the crowd, and is full of praise for Percy Pigs), and they sweetly dedicate breakthrough single ‘Forever’ to their UK fans.

It’s a perfect example of their R&B-meets-pop Fleetwood Mac shtick (new single ‘The Wire’ also does a great job of pairing ‘Tusk’ with TLC). But if tonight proves anything, it’s that there’s more in Haim than that five-word precis and one brilliant debut album.

Live, there’s a harder edge to their material, aided this evening by a rugged croakiness in Danielle’s voice. When they choose to cover the Mac, it’s not ‘Little Lies’ they go for, but a drivingly heavy version of the Peter Green-era single ‘Oh Well’. “Just imagine you’re in LA in our living room,” says Danielle. “We have three drum kits in there…” supplements Este.

And without over-romanticising the sibling thing, there’s great power in the intuitiveness of a band who’ve grown up together - even when the girls go off into blues-rock jam time, Este’s Gene Simmons-like bass face in full effect, it’s always a thrill. ‘Honey & I’, on record, showcases a softer, dreamier folk-pop side, but live, stretches out in a Skynryd-esque rock beast.

‘Don’t Save Me’, their best song, doesn’t quite come off before they leave the stage, Danielle’s voice perhaps just a little too rough for its glossy power-balladisms, but it’s made up for by ‘Let Me Go’, broken down live to become a hoodoo riot, tribal drum rallies rattling back and forth between the girls, echoing those Haim household drum battles.

Este dives from the stage to massive cheers. “HAIM! HAIM! HAIM!” everyone shouts in time to their stomps. They’re set on turning the UK into one big Haimly living room. I for one am only too happy to be their footstool.