Feb 12, 2023
By Andy Robbins
Photography by Andy Robbins
When Hamish Hawk walks on stage at Brighton’s Komedia, it’s less than a week since his new album Angel Numbers was unleashed upon the world. Not so much kicking and screaming as with a cheery wave and a doff of the cap, but you’d be wrong to underestimate these good guys.
The buzz of expectation has already built in the basement venue that plays host to more comedians than musicians. Maybe that’s why Hawk seems right at home. He’s a born performer with the charisma and panache to put many a stand-up to shame.
Introducing himself, the Edinburgh-based performer makes a point of saying “We are Hamish Hawk.” And by “we” he is referring to his fantastic band who have co-written many of the songs performed tonight and who lay the foundations on which Hawk is allowed to flourish.
Andrew Pearson’s warm guitar chords in particular wrap around “Rest and Veneers” and “Grey Seals” like a warm blanket, but fizz on the boisterous double-whammy of singles “Angel Numbers” and “Think Of Us Kissing”. Meanwhile drummer Stefan Maurice and bassist Alex Duthie maintain an understated presence that belies their intrinsic role in the evening’s proceedings.
There is no doubting who the star of the show is though, and Hawk has the tunes to back it up. He somehow wraps intricate word play around melodies you’ll be humming for the rest of your days.
Given many of the songs from Angel Numbers were written almost three years ago in the throes of the pandemic lockdown, we shouldn’t be surprised that Hawk already has one eye on the album’s follow-up. And so, we are treated to new track “You Can Film Me” which is perhaps his rockiest number yet. It sounds not too dissimilar to Suede at their most raucous and performed with the same levels of trademark drama as Brett Anderson himself. It delivers a chorus so catchy that it is sung back at him within minutes of being aired.
There’s still space on the setlist for Heavy Elevator favourites “This, Whatever It Is, Needs Improvement” and “Bakerloo, Unbecoming”. With perfect timing, an audience member hands Hawk a biro just as he steadies himself for “The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973”. Given its references to subjects ranging from the aforementioned ball-point pen to renowned architect Christopher Wren and the holy city of Varanasi, it’s an unlikely sing-a-long but one that sounds absolutely joyous.
Recent single “Money” is also greeted with such rapturous enthusiasm by the crowd that Hawk and his bandmates seem genuinely shocked at the cheering mass before them, allowing themselves a moment to smile and drink in the adulation they’ve earned.
After a rabble-rousing cover of Talking Heads’ “Thanks For Sending Me An Angel” which Hawk makes his own, it’s left to “Caterpillar” to bring the evening to a frenzied close. Hawk is frozen and lost in the moment, doused in the spotlight as Pearson spirals beside him throwing shapes with his Fender Jazzmaster.
With his stock growing every time he graces a stage, there’s surely no way we’ll be seeing Hamish Hawk in such intimate confines for much longer. For now though, let’s revel in his wonderful company.