Live Review: HAIM @ Dingwalls

on Tuesday, June 19, 2012
HAIM live at Dingwalls (London, 18 June '12) // Words: Saam Das

Last month, we ventured down to Brighton for The Great Escape festival. One of the few buzz bands we were genuinely looking forward to seeing were HAIM, a Los Angeles quartet comprised of "three sisters and one mister". They duly delivered. Fast forward a month and they managed to sell out Dingwalls and enrapture us all over again.

Originally scheduled for the Barfly, just down the road, this Camden gig soon became talk of the town - prompting an upheaval to Dingwalls. Little surprise considering the the recent buzz generated by HAIM, mostly thanks to their 'Forever' EP, which they have given away for free but will be coming out on 10" vinyl shortly.

With only one support on offer, Brighton's Dear Prudence were charged with the task to warm us up suitably. Admittedly, we only caught the last half of their set but their stadium rock-esque demeanour and sound seemed a little at odds with what was to come next. Yet we expect songs like 'Valentine' to easily find an audience.

Having loved HAIM's appearance at The Great Escape, the pressure was on for the quartet to deliver another stunning performance in front of a packed, expectant audience. But they met that challenge with ease, showing a youthful exuberance that was as endearing as it was enthralling.

Somehow managing to string a sub-ten song set into an hour long performance, HAIM thrilled the audience with their witty banter, excellent musicianship and most of all, their sublime tunes. Their collage of inspirations came to the fore, from Led Zeppelin guitar shredding to more of a folk vibe, before their true influence emerged - as the three sisters' parents took to the stage.

It was a reunion of the family band that the sisters had grown up with, and hence technically also the debut UK show of Rockinhaim. With mother on lead vocals and father on drums, their cover of 'Mustang Sally' received a rapturous reception. Perhaps so much so that it should have been the band's finale.

Indeed, the setlist was perhaps the only downside - moving a few of the songs around might have led to a better flow and avoided the rare lull in proceedings. Nonetheless, consider that a minor criticism of what was a triumphant performance. We'll re-evaluate come December but we suspect this may well have been one of the best UK gigs this year. Simply put, you must see HAIM live.

★★★★½ (4.5/5)

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