A retro sandwich with a shoegaze filling: Richard Hawley plus Maps, Vincent Vincent And The Villains at Astoria, London (February 12)
We begin as we end – Vincent Vincent And The Villains get things underway by paying homage to dark ’50s rock’n’roll. They make a decent fist of it, too, before James Chapman aka Maps take the stage. His electro-based gems seem a little incongruous sandwiched between two such retro-obsessed acts, but they carry the same buccaneering spirit, and surely that’s all that matters. The blossoming of headliner Richard Hawley’s solo career, meanwhile, has been one of the most heartwarming stories of British rock in recent years. No-one has a single bad word to say about him, and he’s content to return the favour, thanking NME tonight for putting on an “old fart” like him. But when we’re treated to such delights as the tender beauty of ‘Valentine’ and the sweeping grandeur of the call-to-arms that is ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’, the pleasure is all ours.
When Hawley runs through jaw-dropping covers of Ricky Nelson’s ‘Lonesome Town’ and Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ in the encore, it’s clear this is a man utterly in love with what he does and with the talent – and quiff – to pull it off. No wonder Arctic Monkeys love him so much: thanks to his referencing the past, he’s making the future look a lot brighter.