Haim review – megawatt brightness from pop’s wisecracking charmers

OVO Hydro, Glasgow
The California sisters work the crowd like seasoned standups as they deliver gleeful catharsis with their bittersweet hits

Haim are a little late on stage but when middle sister Danielle strolls out in the usual uniform of bikini top and leather trousers to begin the riff of Now I’m in It, nobody in Glasgow appears peeved. After all, they’ve waited three pandemic reschedules. She is visibly thrilled to be back, and is keen to reintroduce us to the family. “Glasgeeeee let me hear yeeee!” roars eldest Este by way of arrival before youngest Alana kicks off a three-way drum circle that shakes the seats of the venue.

Sadly, Haim are not flanked by the giant sausage-punchbags they had at Glastonbury (inspired by the deli setting of their Women in Music Pt III cover art) but across 90 minutes they pummel their greatest hits into impressive shape. The stark staging gives them space to romp around with stripped-back rock’n’roll conviction. I Know Alone, complete with choreographed dance break, is the same salve it was in lockdown, while My Song 5, with its pounding drums, still kicks hard: the “not your honeypie” punchline reverberates loudly from the crowd’s predominantly female voice.

Where most groups do stage banter, Haim do standup. “We’re playing our dream venue, so I’m stopping to smell the roses,” says Alana, attempting seriousness. “I’m stopping to smell my armpits,” quips Este. “Four songs in and I am ripe.” They move into their skit from Women in Music track 3am, which tonight involves Este taking a faux phone call from Sean, a “short king” she met at Tesco. The joke runs a little longer than it probably should but as she dives into the crowd in search of someone who will take her on a “beautiful date”, you can forgive them the indulgence.

With Haim, the in-jokes are half the appeal, smoothing over any shaky vocal moments. And even when those live ad-libs are at their shakiest, they do an excellent line in bittersweet bangers: Gasoline gets a warm singalong, while Alana’s Alanis Morissette-style vocals on I’ve Been Down represent the best performance of the night, morphing into a “which side can sing louder” sister-off (“I’m the baby of the family, I need this!”).

As they bid the main set adieu with Summer Girl – “I see it in your face, I’m relief” – the song’s lyrics and carefree melody exemplify the group’s sunny-hearted, escapist appeal. Were Haim worth the wait? For those who crave note-perfect polish, perhaps not. But when you’re able to fill a room with this much natural charisma, who really cares?

Contributor

Jenessa Williams

The GuardianTramp

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