Review: Haim savors its first time at First Avenue

The band of sisters messed up once in their Minneapolis debut, and it only added to the excited fun.

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After playing essentially the same dozen songs every night for the past year and a half, the women of Haim ironically made their overdue Minneapolis debut feel special by screwing up, big time. And they did it during one of the two big hits they could probably sing in their sleep.

“We’re just so intimidated by this place,” bassist Este Haim cracked after her sister, singer/guitarist Danielle Haim, sang the second verse of “Don’t Save Me” first — for the second time in a row, no less.

Having to restart the song twice a half-hour into their 80-minute set turned into something of a reboot moment for the San Fernando Valley-bred Haim sisters, who seemed to play with an extra spark for the rest of their long-sold-out concert Monday at First Avenue. The venue’s “Purple Rain” connections had Este talking like a overexcited teenybopper fan in interviews and between songs.

“How [bleeping] excited are we feeling tonight?” she asked rhetorically near the start of the concert.

In the end, Monday’s crowd went away almost as giddy. The doubly botched “Don’t Save Me” aside, Haim (the band) played with impressive but never robotic precision Monday and covered a relatively wide swath of styles, including New Wavey ’80s pop, harmonious R&B-infused rock and their dad’s classic rock.

It took the trio — a quintet in concert — unusually long to release its debut album, “Days Are Gone,” and even longer to make it to the Twin Cities on tour. But the wait paid off on many fronts. Fans who’ve been living with the record since its September release knew the songs well enough to spike them with even more exuberant energy, starting with handclap accompaniment in the opening tune “Falling” — a rhythmic pop workout that with traces of Prince’s former protégé Sheila E.

Later, when Danielle sang the first half of “Running If You Call My Name” solo, the crowd interpreted the quieter moment as a license to sing along loudly. So you can imagine how noisy things got in “Don’t Save Me” and the rockier hit, “The Wire,” saved for the encore.

Perhaps the least-known song of the set — at least for the mostly under-30 audience — was the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac jam “Oh Well,” a holdover from the sisters’ days of playing old rock standards with their parents. Third sister Alana (the youngest at 22) handled vocals while Danielle tore it up on guitar.

How telling of Haim’s pop/rock crossover appeal that their other cover of the night was Beyonce’s “XO,” with Este delivering the sensual lead vocals while Danielle capably manned the drum kit.

All three sisters banged on drums for the finale, “Let Me Go.” They also alternated pounding duties mid-show in the grinding gem “My Song 5,” which sounded like a cross between Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Simply put: No other band could pull that musical hybrid off so well.

 

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658

 

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