Haim have always written huge anthems that are perfect for sunshine escape and getting lost in a crowd. Third album ‘Women In Music Part 3’ takes that communal spirit further and celebrates the idea of strength in numbers. The band approached it with a sense of fearlessness and that paid off. As the glowing NME review boasts, “it’s bold and brave, but delivered with such confidence and chill that it doesn’t feel like a risk.”
Tonight sees them take on another risk though. Danielle and Alana Haim (middle sister, Este, is unwell) return to the studio with their “two brothers”, the album’s producers former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid, for a special, never-been-done-before ‘An Evening With’ performance and Q+A hosted by Banquet Records.
Kicking into a full-band reworking of ‘I’ve Been Down’ (Rostam on keys, Ariel on guitar, Danielle on, er, bongo), the gang still inspire a familiar sense of warmth, despite the distance. That’s only heightened as the song ends and Alana asks the viewers at home, “Are you guys drinking? I hope you’re drinking.” There’s plenty to celebrate – ‘WIMPiii’ has just reached Number One in the UK Album Charts following in the footsteps of their esteemed 2013 debut ‘Days Are Gone’ to reach the summit.
The acoustic snarl of ‘Man From The Magazine’ (presented as “the best song Dave Grohl never wrote,” according to a friend of the band) is just as intimate tonight as it is on record, but with a fire in Danielle’s vocals and Alana grinning at the closing, “You don’t know how it feels, to be the c*nt,” the no-nonsense fury of the track is allowed free reign. A powerful, take-no-prisoners tune, it’s exactly the sort of track to be met with deafening applause under different circumstances. Of course tonight, with Haim half a world away and performing to a camera, there’s nothing but a moment of dead air until Alana comments how badly, “they need an app that makes crowd noise.” And it’s not the only part of this performance that longs to be back on tour and connecting with other people.
Time for questions, and a majority they chose to answer are concerned with the stage. From what newbies they’re most excited to play live (‘I’ve Been Down’ according to Danielle,) to their potential return to Glastonbury (“We hope so. Next year maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed. It’s my favourite festival,” says Danielle).
Haim very obviously miss their fans. At one point talk turns to ‘Another Try’ and how much of a singalong moment that will be. Instantly, Danielle and Alana have their eyes closed, as they sing the chorus and wave their arms back and forth. They’re already dreaming of a room full of people, united through music. “That song is perfect for it,” Alana smiles down the camera lens. “Look forward to that hand motion.”
Elsewhere the band offer useful advice, with Danielle explaining how best to drum and sing at the same time (“get the drum part down first”), explore the lows of lockdown (“it was a dark moment when I learnt how to make a quesadilla in 11 seconds in the microwave,” explains Ariel) and weigh in on how to pronounce the albums abbreviated title (Alana and Danielle say “Wimpy”, Rostam and Ariel say “Wimp-three”). The band sing Happy Birthday to a fan, “I’m probably the only person who could fuck up that song,” admits Alana after missing out the “dear”, and shout out people they know won’t be watching, including Beyoncé. The whole thing is chaotic yet familiar – exactly what you’d expect from an evening with Haim.
Despite the band making it up as they go along and readily admitting to not practicing beyond the first 5 seconds to get the key of each track, Haim are a wicked force of nature when they’re together. Don’t let the laid-back nature of this performance fool you. It’s blatantly obvious just how ready Haim are to get back out there and show off the brilliance of their new album.
‘Los Angeles’ is reimagined as a soaring Danielle acoustic number before the rest of the band swoop in and transform it once more. Brooding and lonely, the track longs for home while a piano rendition of ‘Fucked Up But True’ sees the funky album closer twisted into something more urgent, more heartfelt and more vulnerable. “Either way I’m gonna lose, So I’m just gon’ keep on loving you,” sings Danielle, breaking hearts through The Internet.
‘The Steps’ was “the hardest part of the album,” according to Danielle but it’s an obvious highlight tonight as it infuses a gritty minimalism with a celebratory snarl. The country-punk number sees the band at their smirking, unstoppable best. As the show comes to an end, Alana turns into an excitable relative, waving at the camera and saying how much, “we can not wait to tour this album. I can’t wait to see you. We want to give you guys all a hug. I wish we were there.” All that’s missing is a reminder to eat our greens and drink plenty of water.
Skipping between family values and a desire to take on the world, ‘An Evening With Haim’ is a glorious reminder of just how wonderful, funny and comforting this band can be. They’re the perfect remedy for this seemingly-doomed summer.