Gig review: Haim in Millennium Square, Leeds

The California trio’s family affair of a performance showcases their musical magnetism - even if it is the old stuff that still holds sway best.

Haim
Haim

Leeds, are we in it?” Danielle Haim asks Leeds’s Millennium Square. The guitarist-drummer frontwoman – flanked by sisters Este on bass and Alana on fellow multi-instrumental duty – marvel at the response from several thousand punters, who wholeheartedly agree. “I know there’s a curfew but they’re going to have to drag me off this stage,” the latter vows.

The crowd certainly think she is serious. After all, this is a family affair – and when it is a family affair, things tend to get serious.

But not always with Haim. The California trio’s sound is custom-tooled for summer nights like this, as the last rays of sunshine dip beneath Leeds General Infirmary across the street.

Their tunes have strayed little over the last decade; it is still all West Coast harmonies, crunchy Gibson SG riffs and breezy pop songcraft, served in a slick festival-friendly package with muscular live prowess.

Tonight, they arrive for their biggest headline tour yet, capped by a date at London’s The O2. Like The Killers before them, it was Britain that broke Haim big, and remains their most impassioned market; it’s almost a shame that, given the July heatwave, this is their only outdoor show on the itinerary.

Here in support of 2020’s third record Women in Music Pt. III, they draw heavily upon its eclectic contents, led by synth-rock-tinged opener Now I’m In It and covering most of its bases across their ninety-minute show.

Hailed as a return to form, its genre-straddling contents throw the sisters’ magnetism into sharper relief on stage; Este gurns through the Childish Gambino-esque slink of 3 AM, Alana stokes flyaway energy on Gasoline’s country stumble and Danielle parlays the floaty sax of Summer Girl towards well-documented Fleetwood Mac territory, albeit without the druggy witchiness of Stevie Nicks.

Still, it’s the limited selection of older material that sparks mass singalongs. Want You Back remains an underappreciated pop gem; otherwise, it’s all the halcyon burst of Days Are Gone-era debut material delivering magic hour feels.

There’s no room for Don’t Save Me and Falling, but My Song 5 still snarls and Forever remains euphorically shimmering; when they lead into The Wire, their quasi-funk stomp reinvention of the Eagles’ Heartache Tonight, the collective sigh can likely be heard in Bradford.

“Thank you for making this the best night,” Danielle says at the close of Americana-led Shania Twain sway finale The Steps. The pleasure is apparently mutual.