You hear them talk, don’t you? The handful of people who attended that 1976 Sex Pistols gig in Manchester. The few who bought that 1967 debut album by The Velvet Underground & Nico. The many who saw that David Bowie performance of ‘Starman’ on TOTP in 1972. Anyone who was there, or at least claims to have been, uses the same vernacular. They talk about ‘the electric feel in the room’, the sense of something ‘important happening’ or of seeing an ‘about to be discovered’. You think they are speaking in hyperbole, feigning witness to add fuel to the mythology. They tell their stories with layers of awe & mythicism, claiming to have sensed the beginning of ‘something’ – a band or artist on the cusp of greatness. You think it can’t be possible – until you feel it yourself. Friday night, May 12th 2017, I felt that feeling. Hazey Jane gave a performance that will be remembered by all those that were there.
Supporting band Chalky Seas, a band Hazey Jane met whilst undertaking their recent ‘Us On A Wire’ tour, are an excellent start to proceedings. There music is melodic, thoughtful and full of warmth. A trio – with a bassist M.I.A in Amsterdam – of talented musicians who warm things up nicely. Hazey Jane even join them for their last number, the seven voices unite in harmony and give a taste of things to come.
Hazey Jane’s set begins with ‘Mother’s Lie’, a song with clear influences to their namesake Nick Drake along with a riff that promises to linger in your brain and get your fingers tapping along hours after listening. The song, unquestionable future hits and instant classics keep on coming. They’re really warming into this, the crowd are loving them and the band, like sponges, are absorbing that energy and throwing it all into their music.
And then, mid-set, they unplug and jump into the middle of the audience to perform a fully acoustic number. It’s a spellbinding moment – the crowd gather around them and in a pin-droppable silence they perform ‘Losing My Mind’. The band are magnetic – they sound extraordinarily good and transfix the audience completely. It’s a ballsy moment showing their intrinsic confidence and self-belief. It doesn’t act as a reminder of just how good they are (it’s halfway through the set and the crowd clearly already know that) it’s putting their unquestionable talent in bold, italics and underline. Stripped back they are just as incredible, the music laid bare only highlights that there is something extraordinary going on here.
From there on in the audience, who have gone from being admiring to devoted, are putty in the band’s hands. Each song is heartfelt with lead singer Bobby’s hushed yet husky vocals, lead guitarist Laurent’s melodic playing, fully supported and elevated by Connor’s bass and Paul’s drums. Each song is truly evocative. Each track a three minute story carefully and lovingly told, potent with emotion.
From the moment they take their first step off of the stage at the end of their set there’s instantaneous chanting for ‘one more song’. They give it to us. And another one. ‘Take My Soul’ may just be the one that makes them. The band’s harmonies, which have sounded incredible all evening become something else. That sense of greatness has only become more palpable. The crowd are theirs. No matter how anyone felt about the band prior, we have all been converted.
Hazey Jane are a band that are ready. They will be great. The question is – are you going to hitch on the wagon and be able to claim you knew them before everyone else did?
Photography by Alison Croasdale.