They’re very knowing, Haim. On record the comparisons with Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac hold up, through a shared love of melody, harmony and miserable lyrics.
Live, they want to prove they’re something else entirely – a noisier, shoutier affair altogether – and the three sisters choose to emphasise that with their third track tonight – a cover of Oh Well.
It is indeed a Fleetwood Mac song, but one from the 1960s, when Peter Green was angry rather than angsty and the blues-rock was knuckle-blood raw.
So it is that Haim charge impatiently through the song at the Academy, their second sold-out Manchester gig in only a couple of months. Guitars thrash. Long hair flails. “I might not give the answer that you want me to.” Point made.
Beginning their careers as children playing in their parents’ band, the LA trio’s knowingness extends to starting their set with Falling, the third glorious single off their debut album and one that a less confident band might have held back as a later crowd-pleaser.
But who could blame Alana, Este and Danielle for getting underway with a track whose first line, preceded with a pause, is: “I hurl into the moment like I’m standing at the edge – I know”?
Knowingness isn’t cynicism though – anything but. Haim may be much hyped but hurl in with genuine exuberance, much skill and a handful of great songs.
The bittersweet moments of new single If I Could Change Your Mind are sharp enough to pierce through gloomy sound quality. As the sound clears, My Song 5 reveals their love of 1990s R&B.
The dubby Honey And I unfurls into a trademark chorus and the opening bars of Forever – the infectious song that broke them in 2012 – thrill the crowd.
Two ill-judged moments in the three-song encore set a challenge for a band with such a brief catalogue. Why nod to R&B influences with a cover of something as average as Beyonce’s XO, and The Wire is easily the weakest of their album.
Then the plaintive but dominant Let Me Go shows the answer to that challenge is easily within their grasp, and the three sisters celebrate by beating the crap out of big drums at the end of the song before heading off to do a DJ set at the nearby Deaf Institute.
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