Richard Hawley returns to Cork in the new year for his first show on Leeside since the release of his ninth studio album, Further, which achieved his joint highest chart entry at Number 3. Since his last visit, Richard has also co-created a musical based on a collection of his songs which recently won the UK Theatre Awards ‘Best Musical’, enjoying a run at The Crucible Theatre in his hometown of Sheffield, attended by over 26,000 people.
Then, there’s also the small matter of the man celebrating his twentieth anniversary as a solo artist; something that he views with his customary sense of bluff realism. “I suppose twenty years is quite a long time in this business, but, to be honest, even after all this time, I’m still a searcher. I’m still genuinely searching for things, in music and in life. I can’t tell you exactly what I’m looking for, or where I’m actually going but when I get there, I’ll probably send you a text,” he wryly says.
In the two decades that have elapsed since Hawley jettisoned band life, first with The Longpigs and then as Pulp’s guitarist, the 52-year-old songwriter has forged one of the most singular and diverse careers in modern music.
As well as releasing a string of solo albums that have managed the rare feat of being both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Hawley has worked with a host of impressive collaborators – such as Arctic Monkeys, Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, Texas and Paul Weller, alongside personal heroes that include US guitarist Duane Eddy (his 2011 album, Road Trip, was co-produced by Richard), Shirley Bassey - for whom he wrote the smouldering ballad, 'After The Rain', in 2009), Nancy Sinatra, Lisa Marie Presley, and British folk royalty Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson (he was an integral part of 2013’s Bright Phoebus Revisited tour).
There are also bona fide pop stars such as Robbie Williams, All Saints and Texas, all of whom Hawley has played with in differing capacities down the years; while his song 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours' was featured in The Simpsons and Exit Through The Gift Shop: A Banksy Film.
His ability to cut across styles, time and, in some instances, place, is down to Hawley’s deep and intuitive understanding of music itself, his grounding stemming back to his childhood when his father, a musician himself, introduced Richard to country, blues and rock ’n’roll. In his own words: “I’d something that ended up becoming a guiding philosophy to me. It was as simple as this: 'Wherever you go, there you are'. And that is really all you need to know… about everything.”
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