Some people say that once you’ve graced the stage of the Paradiso in Amsterdam, that there’s only one direction you can go in – upwards. That has certainly been the case for many bands, who’ve have risen through the ranks and graced the Paradiso stage just before they hit the big time (see Alt J and The Lumineers as two examples). Tonight’s main attraction, Haim, have slowly been gaining momentum over the course of 4 years before they suddenly hit the big time in the summer of 2013. For them, success had been on the cards long before they hit the Paradiso stage, with Monday’s show being that final push they needed. The sister trio, consisting of Danielle, Este and Alana, are currently one of the world’s most sought after bands thanks to their eclectic indie rock.
Haim aren’t strangers to the Netherlands, having performed on these shores 6 times since last August (two of which, the shows at the Bitterzoet and the Melkweg, we experienced too!) to constantly increasing crowds. Tonight, a sold out show for a 2,000-strong crowd, will be the last time they play in Holland for a considerable amount of time, bringing the mysterious London group Jungle with them to get the crowd warmed up.
Jungle walked onstage 15 minutes later than scheduled, to the pre-recorded sounds of a rainforest, with its cacophony of sounds foreshadowing what we were to hear from the seven-piece. The band kicked off with an unnamed instrumental track, featuring effects-laden guitars and synths, in turn backed up by a variety of percussion instruments (including the jangly sounds of empty Coke bottles), loud bass and two gospel singers (one of whom was a dead ringer for Prince). Throughout their 30 minute set, the group (fronted by mysterious which-of-these-seven-is-it frontmen J and T) performed a string of songs all expected to feature on their upcoming debut. Of these, recent single Busy Earnin’ stood out the most with its explosive horn section and funky-as-hell bassline. Early single The Heat received a loud cheer as the large crowd moved on the floor as if they were back in the 70s, before an extended Platoon ensured that Jungle won’t be forgotten by the audience. It was a perfect set, with Jungle set to be one of the success stories of 2014.
With a 30 minute switchover period, the former church filled up further as crew members shuffled around to clear the stage ready for Haim and their two live members, drummer Dash Hutton and keyboardist Tommy King. Just after 8:45, the lights went out as Hutton and King walked onstage to start Falling, one of Haim’s biggest hits. Once the well-known percussion beat started, the crowd cheered with enthusiasm before going wild once the three sisters took to the stage. Following a powerful rendition of Falling, it was all systems go as they launched straight into new single If I Could Change Your Mind. Its anthemic chorus got the crowd singing at the top of their lungs, before Danielle Haim proceeded to play a raucous guitar solo on the edge of the stage, adding to the song’s live intensity. This raucous atmosphere remained as the band went on to cover Fleetwod Mac’s Oh Well, a staple in their live sets. It slowly builds up before rocking out and dying down, leaving the amazingly talented Alana Haim to sing the verse rather seductively, before Oh Well’s signature riff returns. The track climaxes with a full-on rock-out, one of the hardest moments in their set, before Este Haim takes out some time to talk to the crowd. One thing which is noticeable from the last time Haim were in Amsterdam is that the crowd banter tonight is significantly less than before. Regardless of this, Este still had fun with the crowd before the telling them that next song Honey & I was the perfect moment to make out with someone on the spot. The song starts off slow before slowly increasing pace and climaxing with an anthemic outro, which led straight into their debut records title track, Days Are Gone. It’s only been a part of their live set for a few weeks, and was one of the more laid back songs in the set with a sweet, summery chorus.
The raw, riff-led and R’n’B infused My Song 5, which is almost totally the opposite of the title track, was introduced amongst a ray of strobe lights and Este’s instruction for the crowd to “shake their asses” the way she’ll do it. This song demonstrates Haim’s ability to incorporate various styles into their music, whilst still retaining that classic Haim sound. After this, the pace slowed down slightly for Go Slow, a song which has been a live staple for quite some time. Go Slow gave the crowd a chance to breathe whilst admiring the sheer quality of Haim’s music, which is far better in a live setting. We were now approaching the end of the main set, with Alana taking out some time to talk a bit about Haim’s relationship with Amsterdam, as the band went into 2013 single Don’t Save Me. It’s one of Haim’s best songs, combining big choruses with a grooving bassline to make for a successful summer anthem. Breakthrough hit Forever closed the main set, with Este instructing the crowd to dance as much as they possibly could before extending the song to feature a long sing-a-long section and final rock-out. As Haim left the stage, excited fans chanted for an encore which they duly got a few minutes later. On came drummer Dash Hutton, proceeding to pick up Danielle’s guitar whilst she herself took a seat behind the drums. It left the room unsure as to what was about to happen, but all became apparent once the remaining members joined the stage to cover Beyonce’s XO, something which they did for a radio session last week. Este took the lead vocals, with Hutton’s guitar skills seemingly surprising the whole room. As with most of the covers Haim perform, they play the song in a style identical to the original whilst still adding a distinct personal touch to it. Hutton then got back behind his drums as the band launched into hit single The Wire, with Danielle once again getting right to the edge of the stage for her solo, which she pulled off with immaculate precision. It was another successful show for Haim, who ended their 75-minute long set with the raw and emotive Let Me Go, which built up into a powerful and loud solo. As the song drew to a close, all three girls got to their own individual bass drums and launched into an astounding, tribal sounding drum solo which left the crowd in awe. They left the stage to the sound of screaming and cheers, as Alana picked up some gifts which were thrown onstage (mainly consisting of Dutch delicacies and Percy Pig sweets, her love of which is no secret to fans).
Whenever Haim perform a show in the Netherlands, it always goes down as a memorable show for the fans as well as the band. Despite losing some of the intimacy which made early live shows so great, it’s without a doubt that the next time Haim perform her, the audience will be far bigger…