Haim review, Alexandra Palace, London: The sisters unleash their 'lady power'

The trio bring their empowering and ferocious Sister Sister Sister tour to London

★★★★★

"If you would've told me in 2011 we were going to play Ally Pally, I would've said 'f**k you'," beams Este Haim, the eldest of the three Haim sisters, from the stage of the prestigious North London music venue. And although Alexandra Palace is sold out for the first night of the London leg of their aptly-named Sister Sister Sister tour, we might have been inclined to agree with her way back when.

Not through any fault of Haim, of course. The band's brand of west coast soft rock and seemingly effortless harmonies have been a favourite of both Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music listeners alike since they broke through with debut album Days Are Gone in 2013. Sure, they might build and borrow from a blueprint tried and tested by Fleetwood Mac, but what's that saying about when things ain't broke?

And besides, seven years ago, it seemed unlikely that a trio of sisters would be given both the backing and opportunity to succeed in a genre dominated almost exclusively by men. Think back to the 00s, for example. The most significant female musician in rock and roll during those first ten years of the 21st century was undoubtedly Meg White; a woman whose unique contributions to her craft were consistently marginalised and reduced to the butts of misogynistic jokes. "A woman? Drumming?”

It’s somewhat poetic then that here we are, in 2018, and the three Haim sisters are opening their Ally Pally double-whammy with a drum kit each – their two male sessions musicians rightly banished to the shadows – for an extended drum intro leading into a one-two punch of their most infectious standout singles from their aforementioned debut: "Falling" and "Don't Save Me".

It sets the tone for the evening, with the sisters seamlessly bringing together the best of their acclaimed and commercially successful debut with the best of their acclaimed and ever-so-slightly-less-commerical sophomore album Something to Tell You; the empowering wordplay of 'Want You Back', the frenzied and infectious "Little of Your Love" and the slower-paced brooding powerhouse "The Wire" all stand out in a set made up entirely of fan favourites and sing-a-longs. Haim exude a charm and a real charisma which makes it difficult not to be besotted by them - but that shouldn't take away from the fact their world-class musicians in their own right, often taking points in the sets to shred a guitar solo or indulge in some slap bass.

After a stripped back "Night So Long" played on a smaller stage in the centre of the venue, the band bring the night to a close with "Right Now" - arguably the song of the night - and leave the stage how they came on; with a ferocious display of percussion on three separate drum kits. An ending fitting for the start.

The refrain of "Right Now" is one repeated back by the crowd as we all begin to exit the arena and into the night - its infectious hook burrowing deeper and deeper. We think back to a moment during the set - sometime after Este started singing an impromptu song about needing a Snickers to keep her blood sugar up - when Alana, the youngest of the three, asked us if we could "feel the lady power". And while it might have been a throwaway comment, when you start to dissect it, you realise there's a lot of poignancy in what 10,000 people at Alexandra Palace just experienced.

In 2011, it might have seemed something a lot of people would have said 'f**k you' too. The band included. But in 2018, it's three women in a genre dominated by men - not just succeeding, but thriving.

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