During their first tour in 40 years, Haircut 100 wow Cardiff’s Tramshed with a clean-cut performance that was like they had never left. Lead singer Nick Heyward, looking and sounding likewise, was raring to go. “Who’s got Pelican West? There’ll be lots of it, as it’s our only album”, he jokes, while teasing “another on the way” with enticing new songs.
Fan-favourite Love Plus One is performed with aplomb early, carrying a wave of intense audience reaction: “It’s only Thursday!” A great opportunity to show off the skills of some bonus musicians, too: percussionist Sian Monaghan pounds bongos at alarming speed, and brass trio Gareth Lumbers (sax), Sam Ewens (trumpet), and Dave Horden (trombone) make favourite tunes come alive, never playing a bum note.
Haircut 100 had taped a few demos before Heyward left in 1983, which have been revisited for the promised new album. Blue Hat For A Blue Day, which the vocalist nabbed for a solo single at the time, has enough in common with the original for a rapturous singalong, but with a harder, soulful Haircut edge.
Heyward is warm and talkative, evidently proud of his formative years with the group and revealing that the summery, sophisticated Surprise Me Again was almost recorded by Barry Manilow (here, Haircut 100 bassist Les Nemes interjects, “No way, Bazza!”). Rhythmic workout Kingsize brings another striking consideration: “I have to try to make my 61-year-old self sound like my 21-year-old self.”
At this point, the show is on an unstoppable upward momentum towards good showmanship. “Thank you, Cardiff—it’s been a Fantastic Day!” says Heyward, before launching into said top-10 single. The encore sees a redo of their excellent Radio 2 Live Lounge cover of As It Was, which grew into something of their own (“Some believe Harry Styles covered us,” claims guitarist Graham Jones). A rendition of Favourite Shirts to close, souped-up like a 12” remix, confirms none of Haircut 100’s virtuosity had waned in the years gone by. Their upcoming new album will surely be one to watch.
Haircut 100, Tramshed, Cardiff, Thurs 2 Nov
words and photos BILLY EDWARDS