Coming full circle to finish the tour they started here in May in Whelan’s, Haim’s fan base has grown with their status as one of the year’s best new acts meaning that no one age group or social strata is present in any excess: the glitz of up market outfits waltz through the large crowd to pick up a Chardonnay before the music starts; the hardcore dedicated to the front of the throng show the sweat of having held position since the doors opened; the over styled stand side by side with the under dressed. It’s no surprise that when the band take to the stage the response is bordering on religious mania. Haim have arrived to close a year that has been firmly in their pockets since the long awaited Days Are Gone dropped in September.
Having a band comprised of family members always provides a different dynamic on a live stage than one put together by chance or mutual acquaintance. There is no vying for the spotlight here as each sister provides a cog to this very well-oiled machine, their closeness and mutual understanding of their music evident from the first strum of Danielles guitar. While they’ve gained substantial popularity through radio play and use of their songs in advertising, tonight proves to show that first and foremost they are musicians.
Opening song ‘Falling’ is perfect evidence of a how a good song can’t be knocked down by saturation with each chorus more crowd-pleasing than the last and the vocal breakdown that closes the song met with rapturous applause from all in the venue. Bending from this kind of pop-rock perfection onto the old school twang of ‘The Wire’ and straight into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’, sang with alarming conviction by youngest sister Alanna, their youth spent surrounded by music is even more apparent than on the album – you couldn’t imagine them anywhere but this stage. Danielle has a proven track record as a lead guitarist – having toured with Julian Casablancas on his first solo tour – but seeing her grind the six string during the guitar solo on ‘My Song 5’ after her husky vocals have simmered through the chorus and every single wrapt ear in the house is past mesmerising.
Eldest sister Estes has had a lot said of her facial enthusiasm, to coin a term, but enthusiasm is never a negative and she has it by the truck load: from breaking into tears during the embers of ‘Running if you Call My Name’ to precariously slapping bass strokes over the crowd during ‘Don’t Save Me’ she engages them with every strum and always on cue even when she disappears behind her blonde mane, bass aimed at the stage floor. While she has the swagger and Danielle that air of a hardened rock veteran, Alanna brings an energy to tonight’s set that’s sincere and unchecked: switching between guitar, percussion and synth she is the heart of the band, her joy infectious in each song more than the previous one.
As they reach the final lines of tonight’s closer ‘Let Me Go’, drums are quickly dropped in a triangle centre stage and they drop instruments to launch into a joint percussion jam. It is a fitting and blistering finale: their tight ranks never more apparent as a beat is never missed and the jaws drop at the sheer electricity of the brief blast of tribal noise. As they give their farewell bow it’s hard not to think of them also saying goodbye to their Next Big Thing status: 2014 beckons, stardoms awaits.