NEW YORK — “It was the best night of my life,” Alana Haim said Tuesday night from the stage at Madison Square Garden. She repeated it at least three times. Maybe even more, but sometimes it was hard to hear above all the applause.
Alana Haim is the “youngest” of the group HAIM, the first and best trio of Israeli-American pop-folk-rock sisters to sell out Madison Square Garden. It was Alana, Danielle and Este Haim’s ability to fill “the most famous arena in the world” that led her to claim that it was, indeed, the “best night of my life”. »
It was just 11 years ago, she explained, when the three of them (accompanied by two others) packed into a hotel room to perform at the CMJ Music Festival hoping to be noticed by a record company, they literally found themselves playing in front of “one person”.
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Although the story seems a bit of a stretch (as does the claim that the show was sold out, with seats at the ends and behind the stage reserved), Alana, who became a movie star after her remarkable debut in the film ” Licorice Pizza“, nominated for an Oscar last year, has proven itself. Later, when the three sisters reunited for their ode to family, “Hallelujah”, to the sound of a single acoustic guitar, some people held up signs with messages that were certainly very touching, because Danielle had to return to the song after being almost choked with emotion. (A series of “I love you” between the sisters and the fans ensued).
The HAIM sisters’ rise to stardom was anything but guaranteed. Most Americans mispronounce the band’s name. (It’s not Hayme, it’s Hyme, and feel free to add a little Hebrew sounding to that H while you’re at it).
They were born in Southern California; their father Moti, was a former Israeli football player and musician, and Donna, their mother was an art teacher. (The whole family appears in a Shabbat dinner scene in “Licorice Pizza”).
In addition to three full albums, they’ve released a slew of singles, performed with Taylor Swift and Lizzo, broken down barriers between genres and mastered the art of making funny videos.
All three sing, co-write their songs, and play many instruments. In concert, Este, the eldest and perhaps the most classic in her “rock ‘n’ roll” attitude, sticks to her bass fuzz forward. Danielle alternates between drums and an electric guitar. Alana plays rhythm guitar, occasionally keyboards, and also sits behind the drums. She’s not only the youngest, she’s also the smallest, and thanks to her huge smile and natural exuberance, she exudes palpable joy as she bangs the drums.
And that, I think, is why the audience stood and clapped relentlessly for the 100-minute concert. HAIM is an extremely refined band, but you can’t miss the euphoria they give off. Even for a fairly simple pop song with a static video, the choreography falls somewhere between concept art and simple kiddie play.
At Madison Square Garden, they wore matching outfits – black bikini tops and black leather pants – and the three of them had a blast. (There are three other musicians, who alternate between percussion, keyboards, additional guitar and the occasional saxophone, but they remain in the shadows most of the time). Part of the stage was blue. The staging allowed the audience to cheer on their favorite sister. Then, Danielle took on a more serious role to discuss the sexism she faced in her youth. In fact, the song Man From The Magazine“, inspired by Joni Mitchell, a response to obnoxious questions from the press (but not mine, I swear, I never got to interview them!) drew loud applause.
Although my count is far from scientific, I would say that the audience was about 65% women. It was the perfect occasion for an evening with friends. The audience was about the same age as the girls in the group – early thirties – and, yes, there were plenty of Jewish faces too. A T-shirt read “The Fourth Sister Haim” and some looked like they were very much part of their family. Also, among the men present, I noticed a large number of gay fans. Next to me was a HAIM super-fan who had brought along his boyfriend and who, between each song, rattled off an impressive amount of facts and figures about when the song was written and what changes were made to the lyrics.
One change I noticed myself was an adjustment to the song “Los Angeles”. On the album, there is a bit of dissent towards New York (“New York is cold/I tasted this climate/No thanks, too little for me!”) which was wisely changed to something along the lines of “This is the coolest city!” Yeahhhh! “, eliciting giggles and cheers.
The current tour kicked off at the end of April and has already hit their hometown concert hall, the Hollywood Bowl. It will continue in North America (Toronto on May 24, Chicago on June 3, Seattle on June 13), then in Europe (Dublin, Madrid, Stockholm, London, among others) at the end of June and in July, before finishing in San Diego July 27.
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On tour, the American-Israeli group HAIM has a blast on stage