Live reviews


Live Review: HAIM at All Points East, 28/08/23

Instrument swaps and bolstering blood harmonies saw HAIM at their best on the closing night of All Points East

Ten years ago sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim took a trip to London and returned with a Polydor record deal. Their debut album, Days Are Gone, was released, and their journey from dusty LA basements to huge global arenas had begun – their UK fans instrumental in setting this course. So a teary Alana tells us from the All Points East stage on the festival’s closing night.

Though HAIM‘s only European performance of 2023 feels all the more singular in celebrating a decade of Days Are Gone – fans queue up to sit on deck chairs and replicate its cover – the day also seems to honour Women In Music Pt III, with a female-heavy lineup including girl in red, Snail Mail, Avalon Emerson and Nell Mescal.

Closing off a weekend of thunder and heavy rain – Stormzy launched this year’s All Points East and so the storms remained – HAIM’s Bank Holiday Monday is blessed with a late summer glow, with many performances basking in the golden hour euphoria that every festival needs. Joesef’s rendition of Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking Of You’, followed by one of 2023’s biggest earworms, ‘Joe’, makes the most of this moment. While over on the main stage girl in red’s ‘we fell in love in october’ feels less gloomy and more shimmering.

Those making the most of the sun, however, would miss the joys of the big top tent, which provides an early evening of music straight out of the Ibiza club classic songbook in the form of Romy and Confidence Man. The XX singer’s solo project illuminates the shadows with blinding club lights on the anthemic ‘Strong’ and ‘The Sea’, while the Australian duo reel off dark, pulsing house bangers with synchronised dancing and a pointy LED bra like some kind of robo-Madonna.

Photo by Sharon Lopez

But for the headline act, walking on to Fergie’s ‘London Bridge’, it was HAIM as we know them: instrument swapping and bolstering blood harmonies. Opener ‘Now I’m In It’ is a reminder of the band’s pop crossover, having just opened for Taylor Swift‘s US Eras tour. That doesn’t stop them amping up the hard rock feel of deep cut ‘My Song 5’ or summoning the spirit of Stevie Nicks on ‘Honey & I’.

The sister’s are clearly buzzing, with Este calling for the house lights to see the 40,000 in attenance and Alana frequently swearing and apologising to their parents who are here tonight. Danielle keeps it characteristically cool.

Their speeches are clearly thought out, as Este neatly segues from Hackney after party locations to the wonky ‘3AM,’ though they’re also down to earth and believable, an extension of HAIM’s inherent appeal. But as the blasts of “Right!” bounce back at them in an encore performance of ‘The Wire’, it’s clear that 10 years on, back in their spiritual home, their cathartic value soars far beyond just their relatability.

Photo by Perry Gibson