Luke Haines – Live at The Hanbury, Brighton, UK, Nov 2009

Luke Haines is one of the lost figures of modern British music. His first album with The Auteurs, New Wave, was as good as anything else that came out of the British pop explosion in the mid-90s and he released several excellent albums as The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder over the next 10 years.

Despite this I had pretty low expectations of his solo performance. The last Haines’s album I purchased was The Oliver twist Manifesto in 2001, and it was a pretty miserable experience. Unlistenable would be harsh, but pretty difficult to listen to pretty much sums it up. His largely excellent performance on the night was therefore a very pleasant surprise.

The set mixed songs from his latest solo album with songs by The Auteurs (‘Showgirl’ and ‘Unsolved Child Murder’) as well as one cut from his Baarder Meinhoff incarnation. The new songs prove that Haines is still a talented and relevant songwriter, no less bilious than before, but showing a little more humanity in his humour. ’21st century Man’, the title track from his album, was a show standout and was also one of the longest most rambling songs of the night leaving Haines’s to joke that there were another 12 verses to come before suddenly bringing the song to an end.

The revelation of the night was what a good guitarist Haines is. His role as sarcastic, spiteful, pop cultural satirist has always masked his song writing prowess, but is also at odds with his axe man qualities. At times things almost rocked, and he almost looked like he was enjoying himself on stage. Surely not.


By Dorian Rogers