Record Overplayed
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
* *
Hal | Leeds Cockpit | 29/04/05

Hallelujah

Gig Review and Photos by Dawn

Whether it's down to their previous gigs in the city, the publicity surrounding their debut album (released only five days earlier) or just sheer curiosity, a hell of a lot of people have ventured out of the bar and crammed themselves into the modestly sized Cockpit venue when Hal take to the stage in support of Brendan Benson.



Beside the current, endless production line of cloned guitar bands clinging desperately to their definite articles, Hal are a breath of fresh air. Like their equally classy labelmates Delays and The Magic Numbers, what makes these Irish boys so instantly captivating is their distinctive sound. Lustrous guitars, pianos, harmonicas and organs hinting unmistakably at the band's retro influences contrast starkly with wonderfully striking rhythms, stirring basslines and bursts of energetic electronica; slices of indie, country, rock and Sixties summer sunshine are complemented by frontman Dave's potent voice and bassist brother Paul's heartbreakingly beautiful backing vocals.

 

Although on the whole complimentary, one review of Hal's debut LP implied it a little too polished and mourned the loss of some of Dave's 'whoa-oh's from early demos. Here, however, such vocal gymnastics remain as the band clearly revel in the freedom of performing - to the extent that they confidently stick to the tried and tested live renditions of songs rather than feeling obliged to play their album counterparts. For the most part, it's a wise choice; impressive as their recordings are, the live versions of songs such as Play the Hits and Slow Down prove to be still more dazzling.

And while Dave focuses intently on the job in hand, it's impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of those around him, particularly ever-smiling sibling Paul and drummer Steven - a man so cheerful he must surely have been smiling since the moment he was born. Judging by tonight's rapturous reception, and armed with songs as summery as theirs, it must surely be only be a matter of time before the rest of the world realises just why we ought to hail the harmonies and happiness of Hal.

Many thanks to Alex and to Paul. Hal play their own tour in May - visit www.halmusic.com for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

^ Top of Page


© Record Overplayed, 2002-2016.