Sheffield Steel


Last night I received a text message from a local musician inviting me to his gig in Limerick tonight. I had to text him back to say I wouldn’t be able to make it as I’m off to Cork to see Richard Hawley play the Pavilion. “Richard who?” was his response, so I sent him back this message:

He’s a Mercury Prize nominated singer-songwriter from the Steel City in England. He’s released six acclaimed albums over the last decade and he’s also an excellent guitarist

“Prob does a mean omolette d boot” (sic) was his rather pithy reply. Perhaps he would have been more impressed if I’d given him a bit more information. Hawley was born into a working class area in Sheffield at the end of the sixties to a family of musicians and entertainers. Both his father and uncle played guitar in a number of local bands and his mother sang popular standards on the club circuit along with her sister. His grandfather had been a music hall performer who played the musical saw as well as playing the violin behind his back. Unsurprisingly, Hawley took to music from an early age and there were no shortage of people on hand to teach him how to play music. At 14, he toured Germany as part of the Chuck Fowlers Band. Returning to Sheffield, he played in a number of guitar bands who ignored the city’s predominant synthesiser sound of the time

Hawley got his first big break when he joined Longpigs and they were signed to U2’s Mother records label. They played festivals and support to Radiohead and U2, but always remained on the periphery of Britpop. At the end of the 90s, he was invited to join fellow Sheffielders, Pulp, and it was through the encouragement of Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey that he decided to record his own material. He released a self-titled mini-album in 2000 and five full-length records have followed throughout the decade. Each of those albums was named after a place in Sheffield and this theme was further developed in the lyrics of the songs on these albums. Truelove’s Gutter is his most recent work and it is a more pensive collection than the ones that preceded it. Still continuing to confound current musical trends, he uses such unusual instruments as the cristal bachet, the glass harmonica and the musical saw (in honour of his grandfather) on the album. In addition, two of its eight songs approach the ten-minute mark and help to solidify the album’s sense of atmosphere. This sense is also present at his gigs and I’m really looking forward to seeing him perform again. And I bet he does a mean omelette to boot


Lonesome Town (Ricky Nelson cover) – Richard Hawley

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3 thoughts on “Sheffield Steel

  1. I’m as proficient as any 14-year-old at texting – I just don’t use abbreviations ;-) My Limerick muso friend is actually more of a triangular-shaped sandwich man

    Hawley is coming to France soon – but to the centre and the north. He’ll be in Clermont Ferrand this Saturday and in Paris a few days later. Worth checking out if you can make it:

    http://www.myspace.com/richardhawley

  2. Ye lucky sod – he’s never been down this way and don’t look like he will for the forseeable (SW of France).
    Have you got a team of 14 year olds working for ye to be able to send text messages that long :-) As to yer man the Limerick muso – don’t bother posting up his recipe for ‘omolette’ – eggs and washing powder probably. Yuk !

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