Live: Haim – O2 Academy, Sheffield

Still riding high on the wave of a colossal 2013, Haim are greeted onto the stage at the O2 with cries of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ as the sold out crowd induct them onto the local scene for the very first time.

But this is not a venue that needs winning over, despite taking nearly an hour to come on stage, the crowd (the biggest female to male ratio I’ve ever seen at the O2) erupt from the off as the sisters get into position.

For at least the first two songs the band can barley be seen behind a haze of smoke and blinding lights, whether this was intentional, or the work of an over eager stage hand, it made the drones from the synth during opener ‘Falling’, that bit more eerie.

At a glance you’d be forgiven for thinking butter wouldn’t melt when looking at these three, but when eldest sister Este eventually emerges from the gloom to introduce her siblings – we realise this galdem can back up the attitude and brashness that encompasses their music, as she shrieks “the UK know how to fucking party”.

She proceeds to invite everyone back to her Californian home to ‘jam’ with the girls as they let rip into Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’, confirming in black and white how that vintage influence, that is so prominent in their sound, came about.

Seeing this makes it easy to imagine how these sisters must have bonded over music from a young age, their overwhelming chemistry on stage at the forefront for the entirety.

But it’s not only their sound that is so captivating, these girls remind us of a time when ‘rock chick’ was an accolade reserved only for the likes of Stevie Nicks or Debbie Harry, now this leather-clad, mini-skirt wielding Californian trio are bringing it back.

For three girls (and a drummer and keyboard player), Haim’s sound packs a punch. R&B infused ‘My Song 5’ is a dirty synth induced slogger that rumbled around the O2. While stripped back versions of ‘Running If You Call My Name’ and ‘Let Me Go’ showcase silky vocal harmonies – the entire set raw and more real than its album counterpart.

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It would seem these girls can do no wrong at the moment, their eagerly anticipated debut album Days Are Gone went straight to number one, after they topped the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll. Amidst a very male dominated rock and roll scene though, they are no pretenders. Technically brilliant and mesmerising to watch – it’s hard to know where to look as they fly around the stage donning the role of guitarist, percussionist, vocalist, synth-player and headbanger (all finely executed) within the space of a couple of songs.

Critics of this band tend to come from the school of thought that ‘rock is dead’, insisting that this is nothing more than mindless ‘pop’ music, cleverly marketed to the uneducated, who under interrogation would not be able to tell the difference between their ‘black-metal’ and their ‘black-heavy-metal’.

To these there will never be any pleasing. Guitar music is not dead, it has simply had a facelift. Will we see an influx of female dominated guitar bands in the future? It’s doubtful, but if Haim can follow up on their debut success, with the same energy and wild vivacity that encapsulates their live shows we will be in for a treat.

Will De Nardo

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