Is there a band less suited to playing in a sudden downpour than sun-drenched Californian sisters Haim, they of the impossibly sunny soft rock stylings and beachy resistance-is-futile hooks? The fact that the rain holds off for the entirety of their energetic slot feels like it’s due to the sheer will embodied by Este, Danielle and Alana’s overblown, sometimes ludicrous power pop.
Latitude is the last date of their UK tour, as eldest sister Este announces slightly tearfully, and they do look like a band that have been on the road for a long time. They’ve been touring debut LP ‘Days Are Gone’ for at least a year and a half and there’s a slight fear that over familiarity might dilute the sisters’ impact. Onstage today they look pale and wide eyed, but still manage to deliver the sort of wild, energetic set that they’ve become renown for, switching between drums and guitars as easily as between songs and playing whichever they end up on next with gritted teeth and white knuckles.
Key to the sisters’ appeal is their witty, unpredictable stage banter, spearheaded by sweary Este, whose spectacular bass face triggers a tidal wave of copycat turns amongst groups of tripping teens in the crowd. She’s on top form today entreating us to “shake your titties and asses” and demanding that we climb on each others shoulders. The trio’s gauche charm and fizzing chemistry has helped them reach larger crowds more quickly than that single record perhaps merits, but they bring so much power and conviction live that you find yourself falling for them all over again. When they call on you to punch the air, you do, and when they invite you over to their place for a massive house party, you’re there.
The songs are scrappier live, losing a little of the shiny 70s throwback production that flirts with kitsch on record and sounding all the better for being a little scuffed round the edges. Tracks such as shimmying opener ‘Falling’ and catchy R&B groover ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ sound funkier, tighter, more compellingly dance-y. A cover of Beyonce’s ‘XO’ is glossier but still enjoyably slinky, and the brilliant, irrepressible ‘The Wire’ remains the best song Fleetwood Mac never wrote.
They end with a sweaty, air-punching ‘Let Me Go’, pounded out on drums, long hair flying everywhere. It’s an exhilarating sight that proves they can more than live up to expectation that comes with their growing fame and vibrant personality. Let’s hope they can match it with their next record. Come on everyone, party at Haim’s house.
Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.