In her gold converse sneakers and on her second European tour in 6 months, the artist formally known as Haley Bonar, now just plain ‘Haley’, is looking a little like Dorothy discovering a new Oz. After 15 years toiling away recording and touring in relative obscurity, that impossible dream of critical acclaim and recognition is steadily becoming a reality.
Falling somewhere between Angel Olsen and Neko Case in style and sound, Haley has seen her star rise, particularly in this country, starting with 2014’s Last War which for all intent and purpose sounded like someone beginning afresh, adopting a louder, mood heavy and chorus-driven approach, or maybe just “these quiet, folky kinda songs ain’t paying the bills, so let’s turn shit up”.
This is very much the case on her latest album Impossible Dream, where punchy guitar-driven pop (“Kismet Kill”, “Called You Queen”) nestle in among quieter, pensive numbers (“Hometown”, “Better Than Me”). Tonight the Dream album is played in entirety with a spattering of Last War tracks that showcase the Haley of now, drawing a line between anything that might sound unfamiliar or from a different time.
While her previous London show at the more intimate Moth Club was full of rapt adoration from hardcore fans, the mood tonight was warm but restrained, heavy with those who might’ve seen her on Jools Holland or heard “Kismet Kill” on the radio than the former. When Haley later admonished the crowd for the soft encore applause it gave the feeling that London was perhaps left wanting in her eyes.
She gave it her best shot though, the hushed solo take on Last War’s “Eat for Free” being one particular highlight, but given the sedate, curious crowd and the jump in venue size, a shaky full-band stumble through Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” as the final encore was not quite the parting gift Haley might’ve hoped.
Setlist: Jealous Girls / Your Mom Is Right / Stupid Face / Better Than Me / Hometown / No Sensitive Man / Last War / From A Cage / Skynz / I Can Change / Kill The Fun / Heaven’s Made For Two / Called You Queen // Blue Diamonds Fall / Eat For Free / Whole Wide World