Haim’s fan-only LA comeback gigs – the skinny on the new songs

Haim played a special fan-only show last night (May 2) at Los Angeles' Teregram Ballroom. NME was there

After finally announcing the release of their eagerly awaited second album, ‘Something To Tell You’ – which is out July 7 – Haim decided to treat fans in their hometown of Los Angeles to two free gigs. Taking place at the Teregram Ballroom, NME joined the Haim faithful to hear a host of new songs in the intimate Downtown venue. And – spoiler alert, soz – they sound pretty damn awesome.

Like a lot of pre-release gigs by big artists, the show is on digital lockdown. Phones are placed in sealed pouches so no-one can sneakily record the new tracks and once everyone has been cut off from the outside world, Danielle, Este and Alana swagger onto the small stage and immediately burst into forthcoming single, ‘Want You Back’. It’s big, ballsy and could have been lifted straight off Fleetwood Mac’s poppiest album, 1987’s ‘Tango In The Night’. There’s even a smattering of Springsteen in there, with Danielle belting out the chorus while looking like a lost member of Led Zeppelin in a flute-sleeved shirt and flares and busting out moves worthy of Prince. This is proper grown-up rock’n’roll in the classic, timeless mould. Sure, it’s not a million miles away from 2013’s ‘Days Are Gone’, but it’s fuller sounding, more grown-up and seamlessly grooves into the debut album tracks that follow; ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ and ‘Don’t Save Me’.

After raising the house lights on the request of Este, the trio scan their adoring crowd. “So many babes,” drawls Alana, before momentarily breaking the glossy confidence. “We’re really excited,” she beams, talking about debuting their new single. “Terrified but excited.”

Haim, 2017

Haim, 2017

But there’s not enough time to wallow in the nerves because it’s already time for another new song. ‘Little Of Your Love’ is pure 1970s power rock, straight from the back catalogue of Steely Dan, with keyboards from the school of Elton John. There’s a clap-along chorus, an Eagles riff courtesy of Danielle and the distant notion that somewhere out there, the ghost of Freddie Mercury approves. If anything, with the new material aired tonight, it sounds like Haim have dug even further into the past than on their debut album, a record whose debt to classic West Coast radio rock ran deep.

Devotees of Este Haim’s notorious ‘bass face’ will be happy to know the glorious gurn is still in full effect, punctuating ‘Forever’ and ‘The Wire’ with head-turning regularity. The trio’s natural ease onstage and charisma hasn’t been hampered by a fair few months off stage either; there’s an impromptu robotics session from Este who throws down the dance party gauntlet during ‘Don’t Stop’. It’s silly but somehow slick at the same time, a classy comedy set-piece and proof that they’ll kill it this next weekend on Saturday Night Live if they happen to appear in any sketches, like they did back in 2013.

Another favourite of Haim gigs gone by also remains: the drum circle. Tonight it’s the turn of new song ‘Right Now’ to get the Stomp!/5am at the Glastonbury Stone Circle treatment, with the sisters doubled over, smacking the shit out of a trio of floor toms for the furious finale. “I fucking love you Los Angeles,” screams Este over deafening cheers before they triumphantly strut off stage. The feeling is more than mutual. Roll on Glastonbury… we’re ready to go again.