Friday 31 May 2013

Haim @ Koko, London

Since winning the BBC Sound Of 2013 poll at the start of the year, Haim have garnered a considerable following despite not yet releasing a full album.  As the hype continues to grow, the sisters had much to prove at this gig.

They were supported by another Sound Of nominee: Arlissa, who performed a rare acoustic set.  Whilst it was missing the exotic production, it allowed us to really hear her vocal with its rich tone, lilting inflections and impressive range.  The singer is perhaps not ready to reveal too much of her own material, instead including a cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds in a suitable reinterpretation of the song.  She remains, however, one to watch.  Prior to this, the first support was George Maple who did her best Jessie Ware impression.

Much has been made of Haim’s fusion of 70s rock with 90s girl band vocals.  What’s clear from their live act, however, is that the girls are a rock band through and through, the smooth production of their records roughed up with punk attitude.  Guitars were scrubbed, drums were pounded, lyrics were shouted and hair was shaken.  Lots of hair.  The years of playing together have paid off as the sisters offered a polished and tight performance, exchanging vocal lines with harmonies totally in tune with one another.  A rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well allowed the girls to stretch their rock muscles in a bluesy jam of blazing guitar riffs and spiky vocals, whilst the encore ended the gig with an extended drum cadenza of thunderous proportions.  Lead singles Don’t Save Me and Falling, meanwhile, came off with fiery passion to an elated audience.  That said, fans of their synchronised dancing were left wanting.

Yet the sisters adorably revealed their goofy side, not only bantering with the audience but with each other too.  Sisterly affection and female empowerment spread throughout the predominantly female audience, with one man’s heckling quickly shot down (“Boo, you gotta wine me and dine me before that happens”).  Their individuality also shone through: lead singer and guitarist Danielle was surprisingly shy despite the snarling vocals; bassist and joker Este ended up with a pair of boxers on her head; and Alana (aka Baby Haim) juggled multiple instruments.  Just as their music combines rock with mainstream pop hooks, the sisters are feisty yet utterly lovable. 

With only a handful of songs, the set quickly blazed past.  If anything, it left the audience wanting much more and with their debut album due for release soon, the best is yet to come.