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Darren Hayman - Luminaire, London, 30/3/2008

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 22 / 3 / 2008

Darren Hayman - Luminaire, London, 30/3/2008


With fine support from the Wave Pictures and his former Hefner bandmate Jack Hayter, Ben Howarth Darren Hayman play a powerful set of both old and new songs at the Luminaire in London

Darren Hayman has clearly fallen in love with the Luminaire. This was the second of four concerts he had planned for the venue since releasing his second solo album last September. I saw the first one here too, but I have to say that his live show tonight was distinctly more impressive. First up - just as was the case when he played here in November - we get the Wave Pictures as a support band. Darren introduces his mates, many of whom feature as his backing musicians on his last album, by saying that he doesn't expect them to be supporting him for much longer. And on the evidence of this, he's bang on. Playing with acoustic guitars, just as a change I think, the band showed that they have the wit and the songs to get an audience of their own in venues far larger than this. But us Hefner heads lapped them up, not least because they do sound rather similar to Darren's own band. But, as is so often the case, a good support act was overshadowed by the main event. It was also the debut of former Hefner guitarist Jack Hayter as a member of the Secondary Modern, and his multi instrumental skills added real depth to almost every song. He really is an underrated talent. Jack and Darren will be playing Hefner songs around the country later this year, but tonight was mostly solo based. His songs have continued to grow on me, and even if he again failed to play my personal favourite 'Elizabeth Duke' you couldn't fault the songs he did play. Three moments stood out. The first was 'Big Fish, Small Pond', a new song from a concept album Darren will release this year about Harlow Newtown (yep, you read that right), which suggests that his songwriting has hit a particularly sharp streak. Despite the fact that he will probably earn more from the Hefner trawl and from the reissues of his old band's albums, there is no reason for him not to focus most of his efforts on new material. Second was 'Half a Life'. Hefner released this when they were in their electronic guise, and I rather missed just how good a song it was. Third came when he broke into 'The Weight of the Stars', a favourite of mine from the Fidelity Wars. His wife was standing behind me, and remarked that she particularly hated this song, written when the pair were temporarily seperated. Rather cruelly, you might say, a number of people took particular pleasure in singing along loudly to every word. I was amused. Hayman's south eastern drawl and unflinchingly honest lyrics will always make him a darling of the hardcore indie fans among us. But his music, richly tuneful and often backed by unapologetically country based arrangements, never descends into the shambolic, scratchy tosh briefly beloved in the C86 era. Tonight was a triumph.

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Darren Hayman - Luminaire, London, 30/3/2008

Darren Hayman - Luminaire, London, 30/3/2008

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