This month sees the Coles heading north twice to the splendid Birmingham Symphony Hall. In a fortnight, ambient explorer David Sylvian will take to the stage while last night the greasy-quiffed and wry rocker, Richard Hawley entertained the masses. I doubt whether the aforementioned Sylvian will close his set with the earthy, ‘We’re off now cos I’m gagging for a pint and a fag’, but there was a certain charm to the Sheffielder’s banter that enhanced some excellent singin’ and playin’. I’m playing the new Hawley album Lady’s Bridge as I pen these musings and reflect that most of these songs were played last evening. It’s a recording that’s taken a while to grow on this punter but experiencing the varied numbers in a live setting merrily enhanced their quality and, as a bonus, they were belted out with no little aplomb by a marvellously tight combo. It is a cracking album and last night opened my eyes to its worth. The classic Coles Corner long player was represented heartily too. The title track, one of the finest popular songs of the past decade, was a sumptuous treat while The Ocean, the set’s closer, proved a moody, brooding delight. Actually, it was all very impressive. I enjoyed Hawley’s acerbic and dry persona although I had been warned in the bar pre-gig that he could be a miserable so-and-so; I think we caught him on a good night. I would suggest, to adapt a sporting cliché, that songsmithery proved the winner in the second city; Hawley’s songs are almost timeless, full of melody and atmosphere, and although the band and singer proved tremendously skilled entertainers, it was the songs that made the evening for me. Hurrah!
I was heartened to discover that the rugby club I hold close to my heart,