Richard Hawley, Scala, London

Scala, London

It's as if the compere from Phoenix Nights had crossed the Pennines and picked up a bargain bin full of expletives along the way. "Some people have described this as bedwetting music," he complains. "Well I'll come and fucking piss on your mattress any time."

Where romance collides with coarseness you will find Richard Hawley, singing as if the past 40 years had never happened and it's the end of the night in a ballroom on a rain-sodden pier. "I wrote this one while pushing me sons on the swings," he explains, a touch of paternal pride tickling his Sheffield vowels as he launches into his new album's title track, Coles Corner. "I was pushing them fucking hard, mind."

While the NSPCC might not approve of his banter, Hawley's live audiences can't get enough, chuckling and cheering at the badinage that segues his sad, swoonsome songs. Scott Walker, Petula Clark and even Nick Cave come to mind tonight, as Hawley perfects his adopted role as a northern crooner. Gone are the leather-jacketed days when he played guitar with Longpigs and Pulp, although in his natty suit and awkward specs he looks not unlike his former bandmate Jarvis Cocker, who is in the audience tonight. Of course, Hawley sabotages his own sartorial splendour by admitting that he wasn't sure about wearing a light coloured oufit "in case a bit of shit shows up round the back - you will let me know, won't you?"

Older favourites Baby, You're My Light, You Don't Miss Your Water (Till Your River Runs Dry) and Oh My Love sound particularly gorgeous, revealing that he may need time to grow into the newer material. He also needs to learn the words, as he has to sing from lyric sheets on a music stand in front of him. "I took so much acid in the 1980s," he admits, "that I can't remember a fucking thing."

· At the Leadmill, Sheffield, tomorrow. Box office: 0870 010 4555

Contributor

Sophie Heawood

The GuardianTramp

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