Almost four years ago, give or take a few days, Richard Hawley played the Sage in Gateshead, arguably the perfect venue for one of the finest crooners of the last two decades.
Unfortunately, despite buying a ticket to said gig, your writer would never get the pleasure of seeing Mr. Hawley live that night, having impossibly got the date wrong by one day (incidentally the only time this has happened in thirteen years of gig-going).
Fast forward to October 14th 2019 at Northumbria Institute in Newcastle, and it's fair to say righting that wrong was very much on the agenda.
Emerging from the shadows of Monday night with the rest of his five-piece band, Richard Hawley stepped out in front of the serene northeastern crowd to a thunderous applause, head to toe in textbook dark denim, with a piercing green shirt cutting through his otherwise monochromatic colour scheme.
From the second Hawley uttered his first "Evening", all the way through to him bellowing "up the toon" to close the night, the man was effortlessly cool. Admittedly, having a double bass for a voice helps, but his down-to-Earth, Working Class Hero vibe also goes a long way, particularly in this part of the world. And somewhat predictably, his musical performance was no different.
Hawley's dulcet tones may sound incredible on record, but his voice is one that needs to be experienced live to truly appreciate its immense quality.
Playing a collection of tracks that included all but two songs from his new album, 'Further' - as well as a number of hand-picked tracks from his back catalogue including 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours' - his set was one that catered to proper fans, and it was all the better for it.
A combination of stills, video and minimalistic lighting accompanied certain tracks over the course of the night, most notably during his shiver-inducing rendition of 'Coles Corner'. Photos of Hawley's mother on her wedding day appeared behind him, a lovely personal touch that your writer would have missed, were it not for Sam Duckworth of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly (supporting Hawley on his UK tour) kindly providing the tidbit at the bar.
It was clear that Hawley - whose father was from Bishop-Auckland in County Durham - was offering a peak behind his charismatic curtain to the Geordie faithful, resonating with them like an old friend between songs.
"We love you, Richard", someone screamed from the back.
"It was going so well," he quipped, as the crowd ate from the palm of his charming hands.
Throughout his mesmerising performance, he simultaneously captured the intimacy and informality of a man playing the local pub, with a cool as f*ck crooner strumming through the red lights and smoke of a late, late bar. And yet at any given moment, he could tear into big, almost orchestral sounds without any given warning.
This was an evening for the mélomanes of the world, and with a performance that was as much rock and roll as it was heart and soul, Richard Hawley more than delivered to his sea of northeastern admirers.
A gig four years late for this writer but as it turns out, good things really do come to those who wait.
1. Off My Mind
4. Standing at the Sky's Edge
5. I'm Looking for Someone to Find Me
6. Emilina Says
7. Tonight the Streets Are Ours
9. Coles Corner
10. Midnight Train
11. Galley Girl
12. Time Is
13. Don't Stare at the Sun
14. Open Up Your Door
15. Down in the Woods
16. Is There a Pill?
17. There's a Storm Comin'
18. Heart of Oak