London has always played a crucial part in Haim’s origin story. As the youngest of the band of sisters Alana Haim tells the audience during their All Points East headline show: “London and the UK was the first place to ever embrace us, so we actually call this home.”
Their top billing at the festival comes as the group mark the ten year anniversary of their debut album Days Are Gone, and both these festivities, and their early connection with the capital city, are felt tonight.
Between tracks, Alana explains that after forming Haim on the date “7/7/2007”, the group racked up gigs wherever they could, yet “no one wanted to sign us”. That changed when they found out one of their tunes was being played on British radio station XFM [now Radio X]. “So me and my siblings came [to London], not knowing anything’ we had no idea of what was going to happen,” Alana explains. “We came here, and we got signed to Polydor records. And the show we played after signing was a place called Dingwalls, and it was the first time we had ever heard the lyrics to ‘Forever’ sung back at us.”
Tonight the band are a long way from the 500-capacity Dingwalls, yet the magic they described from their earliest gigs here in London prevails. From the moment they blast Fergie’s enduring noughties belter ‘London Bridge’ over the PA system to amp up the crowd, before tearing on-stage and launching into ‘Now I’m In It’, there’s a sense of celebration in the air.
To mark a decade of Days Are Gone, live rarities from the record are added to the setlist. The breezy ‘Honey & I’, funk-inflected ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’, and cantering ‘Let Me Go’ are all affixed into the mix. These sit alongside a stacked setlist of Haim’s greatest hits. Towering ‘Gasoline’ and jazzy ‘Summer Girl’ from 2020’s stellar third record Women in Music Pt. III are lush and sun-drenched, and the lone offering from Haim’s second album – 2017’s Something to Tell You, ‘Want You Back’ – induces one of many mass sing-a-longs.
The trio are on fine form, their distinctive, tight-knit vocals soaring, and on-stage banter endearing. Before slinky, booty-call anthem ‘3 AM’, bassist Este asks for recommendations of where to party post-show, so she could be “out and a-fucking-bout, at 3 mother fucking AM”.
As they blast through the song, she then makes her way into the crowd, serenading the front rows and continuing to crowdsource her night out. Throughout their set they amp the crowd up like rock n’ roll spin instructors: “I know you’ve still got juice in the tank!” Este encourages during the roaring ‘Forever’. Meanwhile ‘I Know Alone’, with its ecstatic chorus and UK garage influenced sonics, sees the sisters launch into a choreographed dance routine, all accompanied by strobing lights.
Closing with a roaring encore of the megalithic ‘The Wire’ and country-pop smash ‘The Steps’, it’s a razor-sharp demonstration of Haim’s skill as live performers, all shredded guitar licks and powerhouse choruses.
As Haim thank the crowd they’re greeted by roars of appreciation and homemade signs held aloft. Tonight, thousands of fans came out to support them, this venue a far cry from their earliest London show a decade ago. And while they may be from the Valley in LA, this show in London’s Victoria Park feels awful like a Haim homecoming.