Haim, Stereo, Glasgow
Monday 12 November 2012
Already the recipients of a steadily boiling level of press appreciation, Los Angeles quartet Haim make their best impression on the live stage as first rate performers with a batch of great songs and an innate understanding of how to inspire true excitement rather than just warm appreciation.
Yet before we even come to their musical abilities, we must accept that in combination sisters Danielle, Alana and Este Haim, and drummer Dash Hutton, are truly one of the funniest bands in the business.
Bassist Este, possibly spurred by her apparent split from her boyfriend earlier in the day, is the most engagingly withering. "I know two things about Glasgow," she proclaims, displaying an Austin Powers-like command of the local slang and a possibly tongue-in-cheek willingness to procure a groupie, "the ladies are all hot so there’s major competition and the dudes shag like minxes."
Such humour is a consistent feature of the set, although it doesn't translate to the music as readily as the sense of cutting openness.
Although all three sisters share vocals, guitarist Danielle takes the lion's share centre stage with a powerful voice which is equal parts Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde, with a hint of an Elvis sneer amidst the ragged country of The Wire and the drum-battering anger of Falling - descending into a positively cathartic squall of roaring guitar and house keys from Alana at the end.
Although much has been made of the quartet’s supposed R&B influence, it’s a mixture of classic rock styles and a sense of passionate, youthful verve which grabs the attention.
Hutton’s drums are a loud and relentless fixture throughout, and all three sisters chip in at various points on their own mini-drum or electronic drumpad, developing a sound which is a curious but utterly resonant mixture of classic ‘70s rock (they play Fleetwood Mac’s "Oh Well" midway through and it’s a revelation, a beast of Led Zeppelin proportions tempered by Alana’s positively sensual vocal) and sleek ‘80s pop. The next single "Don’t Save Me", for example, rides in on the same sustained keyboard note as "Take My Breath Away", and sounds no worse for it.
Amidst a set of consistent high quality, the closing "Let Me Go" was the most eye- and ear-catching thing here, a wounded reflection on damaged love as most of their songs are, beefed up by a riff worthy of "Seven Nation Army" and a thundering four-way drum cataclysm at the end. It surely heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
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