Review: Hannah Wicklund – G2, Glasgow

After wowing with her all-too-brief supporting set opening for Greta Van Fleet on their arena tour late last year, Hannah Wicklund is back in the UK and Europe for the last leg of her ‘Hell in the Hallway World Tour’.

For fans of the South Carolina-born artist it’s been a long time coming. April 2020 should have seen Wicklund with her then band (The Steppin’ Stones) navigating the motorway network of the UK as special guests to Scottish blues-rock outfit King King, but, well, do we really need to mention what began in March 2020? So these dates are long overdue, and unlike with GVF and what punters would have gotten had the King King dates gone ahead, this tour it’s all about Hannah and her songs; in particular, material from her stunning, freshly-released album ‘The Prize’.

A set heavily weighed towards new material can often be greeted by a muted response, but with ‘The Prize’ Hannah has conjured up something magical. Years in the making and a true labour of love, ‘The Prize’ is not only Hannah Wicklund at her very best, but it’s also Hannah at her most vulnerable. Any doubts about how well the new material would go over in a live setting were quickly dispelled within the opening 20 minutes of the set.

After a few moments of a jam with her amazing band, Hannah breaks into ‘Hell in the Hallway’ (one of the standout moments on an album of many) and immediately it’s apparent that Hannah has cooked up something special with ‘The Prize’. Impassioned, heartfelt vocals, stunning controlled guitar playing, and a regal aura surrounding the bare-footed Hannah as she sways back and forth, dancing with her guitar as he connects with everyone in her reach. ‘Hide and Seek’ quickly follows on and offers up one of the more explosive numbers from the new album. Live, it is heavier with some full-on, furious playing from Hannah. Her vocals have grown over the years and this is highlighted on the third of the opening trio of new material: the magical Tori Amos-like ‘Witness’, which features hooky melodies that linger on for days afterward…as does Hannah’s use of the talk box.

‘Mama Said’ is the first jaunt into older material, one of the more bluesier moments of the night and it doesn’t take long to discover why Joe Bonamassa described Hannah as “A kaleidoscope of blazing guitars and searing vocals”. With more use of the talk box, it’s full-on blues-rock with a gentle, meandering solo from Hannah that grows into a towering, majestic Zeppelin-like moment toward the climax. Likewise, Hannah’s playing and blues-rock chops are on full show during the closing pair of ‘Bomb Through the Breeze’ and ‘Strawberry Moon’ which were worthy of the price of admission alone.

With a boisterous cheering section on the barrier a stripped-back segment could have been disastrous, but to their credit the chattering and shouting out normally found during quieter moments at gigs is nowhere to be found tonight. So when the band exit stage left and leave Hannah to perform ‘Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces’ and ‘Songbird Sing’ alone with just her trusty guitar, the crowd are respectful and appreciative, and more importantly: they are quiet. There is nowhere to hide when its just you and your instrument. No wall of noise to hide behind. But with heartfelt, hair-raising performances such as these then the need to hide is null and void.

How does Hannah follow that up? By placing her guitar down and retreating to the keyboard for a gorgeous version of the title track to ‘The Prize’, dedicated to “…all the beautiful young women in the crowd tonight…”. Again, the crowd gets full marks for staying quiet during this moment of solitude and hopefulness from Hannah as she offers up “I had to make room in my life for the woman I wanted to be/Loving myself is what’s brought her to me…”.

Hannah Wicklund is a fantastic prospect. Not only does she have the chops and the songs, she also has major crossover appeal. One look at the wide range of demographics gathered here tonight tells that story. Older grizzled gig veterans raised on a diet of blues-rock, mixing with younger, open-minded gig-goers (of which a great deal are female). Hannah is a performer that would just as easily fit in opening for more mainstream artists such as Florence & The Machine, and even Taylor Swift, as she would opening for someone like Joe Bonamassa.

Remaining tour dates:

June 2024 –

5th – London

7th – Koln

8th – Hamburg

9th – Berlin

Ticket information HERE

All images via Hannah Wicklund Facebook page

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