Hype can be a wonderful thing, and Haim are a band who have indulged it to the hilt. They wowed on a global scale off the back of a free-to-download debut EP which spawned one of THE songs of 2012 in the form of ‘Forever’, and drew rave reviews from subsequently showcasing their wares at last year’s SxSW. A valuable musical commodity, Haim were snapped by Polydor Records under the careful managerial watch of Roc Nation, and unsurprisingly topped the BBC Sound of 2013 poll. The trio of sisters – Este, Danielle and Alana – have only played in Ireland once before, on the support bill for Florence & the Machine in The O2 last December, so for many this is the first opportunity to catch them live. It’s not for nothing that they sold out Whelan’s in mere minutes.
The venue is jammed and the excitement is palpable. Shortly after 9:30pm, Haim explode onto the Whelan’s stage to launch their world tour with ‘Better Off’, and it’s immediately obvious that this sisterly trio are going to lend all new meanings to the term ‘stage presence’ this evening. Backed by percussionist Dash Hutton, each Haim sibling has her own clear-cut role in the setup – Danielle the silent but strong axe-wielding front-woman, Alana the multi-tasking musical heart of the band, and Este the charismatic conversationalist whose bass-driven rhythmic passion is written all over her face. Together, they possess a rare musical magnetism that completely sucks the audience in and is unrelenting in its grasp – and all in the space of ten songs.
Raw, impassioned, no-nonsense musicianship is the name of the Haim game, as a dazzlingly raucous take on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ proves mid-set. However the quality of their original songs is the main draw – strong and seductive slow jams ‘Send Me Down’ and ‘Go Slow’ captivate impeccably, whilst impossibly catchy singles ‘Falling’ and ‘Don’t Save Me’ find the adoring crowd in fine voice, and the hooky brilliance of ‘Forever’ incites a shoulder-shimmying frenzy. Tasters of the treats that their debut album will hold fill out the setlist in a highly promising manner – a release date is yet to be confirmed, but the fine-tuning is well underway and it should be a matter of months.
It’s all over within the hour but there’s no complaints to be heard, for what Haim gave their audience within a ten-song set is more than some bands with twice the arsenal of songs could even aspire to. A gig which down the line will be recalled as a landmark performance of a band who are on route to the top of their game at a blistering pace.
Photo: Debbie Hickey – see more images here.