Performing the first of his 'January Songs'
Darren Hayman - Live At The Hideaway, London by Rachel Lipsitz

Stroke your beard presents ‘January Songs’ by Darren Hayman, and beards there are aplenty. Benjamin Shaw is representing and his acoustic rambling makes for a perfect opener for Hayman.

There’s an air of excitement around tonight. This isn’t just at a gig, but an event of sorts. Last January, Hayman ambitiously wrote and recorded a song every day which has been released as a double album. Tonight he’s here to play the first 16, though he admits a few of these are rather embarrassing so he has cut it down to around ten. The Hideaway is a quaint little venue, making it an ideal setting for the occasion. Everybody gathers round, sitting politely on the faux grass floor. One punter making himself truly at home donning a pair of large novelty slippers.

Hayman opens with his 1st January song 'It Was Over'. This tale of a relationship gone sour is arguably one of the best and shows Hayman for the great, if not underrated, songwriter that he is. Reading lyrics from his iPad this is the first and last time some of these songs will be performed live. Next up is 2nd January, 'Bad Technology',  one of the album's lo-fi electronic songs, reproduced live tonight on just an acoustic guitar, and it works surprisingly well. 

The first guest of the night is his old bandmate from Hefner, Jack Haytar. He joins in for the eerie sounding 'Let Me Sleep'. Continuing with the guests, the highlight of the set comes when Elizabeth Morris from indie popsters Allo Darlin’ comes on to sing 'I Know I Fucked Up'. This beautiful lament gets one of the best reactions of the night and the standard is kept high with the upbeat 'Britain in Bloom' and 'Esplanade Drive'. Ending with the albums most catchy 'Who Hung The Monkey', this tale of a road trip is one of the closest sounding to his former band Hefner and even gets a sing-along from this politely attentive audience.

Darren Hayman has shown that quantity needn't compromise on the quality of these songs and he is up there with the great songwriters of this country, the crowd want more but he's done. Next week Hayman continues on from this show performing the second half of ‘January Songs’, and I for one would love to be here.

Words by Paul Melbourne
Photos by Rachel Lipsitz

View an accompanying photo gallery of Darren Hayman live at The Hideaway.

Follow Clash: