When I picked up HAIM’s debut album in Autumn 2013 on the strength of a couple of tracks I’d heard, they fast became one of my new favourite bands. Five years later I finally got to see them live at Alexandra Palace on the tour for their follow up album, 2017’s Something To Tell You.
I’ve never been one for BIG shows, in fact I can probably count the gigs I’ve seen in venues the size of this on one hand. I liked HAIM enough to make an exception, and they definitely weren’t playing anywhere smaller nearby.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made on a ticket booking. Alexandra Palace is a beautiful venue and the enormity of it didn’t both me at all. I think going to Earls Court for Give It A Name in 2007 had left a bad taste in my mouth with it’s constant queing, soulless interior, shite overpriced food and rules on readmittance once leaving the venue.
Alexandra Palace couldn’t have been more different, the glass paneling in the ceiling let the summer evening light shine right up to when HAIM finally took the stage, the whole separate room dedicated to street food tracks and bars with plenty of craft beers on tap offered an insane amount of choice. I’d come back to this venue for a day out.
In fact, Sam and I did spend most of the afternoon within the palace grounds before the show. We had dinner from the onsite pub, sat outside, positioned high up on the hill, looking out over the city with a half pint of AP’s own beer.
The main support for the show was Maggie Rogers. I liked her material enough that it helped pass the time while waited for HAIM’s set to begin. My only complaint of the whole evening is that it was quite a long wait between bands. That said, it was well worth it. I’m not really one for ranking life experiences, so I won’t say “it’s in my Top 5”, I don’t have one, this is definitely up there with my favourite gigs of all time though.
The size of the venue was totally irrelevant once the set started. I’ve been rows back at Reading Festival main stage many a time and felt totally disconnected from the show. It helps that lighting and production have come a fair way in 20 years, but I felt fully immersed in it even when I rushed to the bar at the back of the 10,000 capacity room. The sound was faultless throughout and yet Daniella, Este and Alana’s performance also had an energy, and entertainment value, that went above and beyond what they’d captured on record.
For the first part of the encore, the three sisters appeared on a second stage in the middle of the room. Sam and I were stood somewhere dead centre between this and the actual stage, so when the crowd moved towards this for one track and then back again for the last two songs, we’d sort of comically moved a few steps in each direction, with no real change to our view or how close we were to ‘the front’.