Review by Ben Robinson
Last Friday roughly 100 people or so – predominantly teenage girls – met in Fowler’s Live with one shared intention – to see singer-songwriter Nathan Hawes.
First up Sam Brittain played a 40-minute set of “depressing songs about times in life when things didn’t go right”, often followed by “awkward banter” (his words). The audience were clearly reluctant to get too involved at the start of Brittain’s set, but it wasn’t long before the support act smooth-talked his way into everyone’s hearts, ensuring the crowd was perfectly warmed up for Hawes and his “gorgeous hair”. While an awkward smattering of claps greeted Brittain when he walked on stage, a roar of applause serenaded his exit, proving that he was the perfect support act for this crowd.
Finally, Hawes and his band meandered on-stage to a wall of screams and applause. From a distance, it is easy to dismiss Hawes as yet another member of the 'white-guy-with-guitar' trend (as this reviewer admittedly did). However, any preconceptions were challenged immediately after the first few minutes of his set. Hawes and his four-piece backing band were top form – the drummer provided the pulse needed to turn Hawes’ songs into dancefloor shakers, the bassist ensured the groove and rib-rattles, and the keyboardist/backing-vocalist provided the harmonies that made you forget about anything outside of that room.
One thing evident about Hawes is his talent as a stellar musician, alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, employing an assortment of effects and tunings, even opting to play the guitar as it lay on his lap for a couple of tunes. His band hangs on his every word and cue, proving that Hawes is the glue that binds those musicians together. The clear standout for this reviewer was his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, as it showed not only his immense skills as a vocalist/guitarist, but also his ability to command the stage entirely on his own.
It should also be mentioned that this is the same Nathan Hawes who featured on The Voice Australia last year. However, unlike many others who follow the reality television road, Hawes still has his artistic integrity intact. With this background following him throughout his career, Hawes will follow either Corby or Noll – he’ll either shake off his reality-show past and become a true artist, or he will forever be known as “the guy from that show”. Although it’s too soon to tell, this show proved he is definitely leaning towards the former.