Photos: Volcanic Rock Photography
To complete my weekend, I was privileged to be able to go and watch Deaf Havana playing at Cambridge Junction on what was a freezing cold Sunday night. The Junction is perhaps my favourite live venue for rock music, it’s just about the right size to be able to appreciate a bigger venue but still be close enough to the bands and their music. I tend to go there as much as I can to see bands I know and bands I don’t. Deaf Havana is a band I hadn’t seen before and I’m really glad I did.
Support came from Black Foxxes and Decade. Unfortunately I missed Alt-rock band Decade’s set and arrived in time to catch Black Foxxes, a three-piece rock band from Exeter in the South West. Mark Holley is the lead singer and also plays guitar, Tristan Jane plays the bass and Ant Thornton is on drums. They released a tweet just before the gig saying they were “in the bin today so be gentle with us”. Unfortunately for me, that’s also how I felt they came across. Proudly shouting to the crowd at the beginning “We are arrogant!” I don’t think this helped the set at all, which was unfortunate as I know they are a successful live band, especially in the States, but I don’t think we saw that this evening and their admission on Twitter probably had a large influence upon that.
Their style of rock music is particularly raw, loud and fast with screaming vocals, thrash guitars and hard hitting drums. They played six tracks in all; ‘Husk’, ‘Slow Jams Forever’, ‘Sæla’, ‘Whatever Lets You Cope’, ‘Manic In Me’ and ‘River’. I felt they could have improved their performance by all of them engaging more positively with the crowd and, possibly, if they had played the title track from their album, ‘I’m Not Well’ as it would have been more in the style of Deaf Havana and put them in better stead, as it is a cracking track which I’m sure the fans would have liked. I felt a bit more interaction with the fans would have helped their performance so hopefully they might learn not to be “in the bin” in future gigs so they can show everyone how good they are.
The headliners were Deaf Havana, a five-piece alternative rock band from Norfolk and this was the closest gig to their home on the current tour of 13 nights, which probably explained why the 850-capacity venue was sold out. The place was heaving and this certainly made for the brilliant night. They formed over 12 years ago and you could hear in the tracks that they have used that time to ensure their music has developed as they have. They played a good number of tracks from their latest release, ‘All These Countless Nights’, which is a quality album and my current favourite to write reports to when I’m at work.
James Veck-Gilodi provides the lead vocals and rhythm guitar, his brother Michael Veck-Gilodi plays lead guitar, Lee Wilson plays bass, Tom Ogden is on drums and Max Britton plays the keyboards.
The set started with ‘Fever’ and was followed by ‘Sing & Mildred’ which Michael sang lead in parts. It was unfortunate that there was a little too much dry ice and bright flashing lights out from the stage during those first three tracks which meant that Tom and Max were hidden in a bright cloud for most of the time, but that cleared later. They continued with ‘Times Change, Friends Leave and Life Doesn’t Stop for Anybody’ (a very long title for a track), ‘Leeches’, ‘Anemophobia’, ‘Seattle’, ‘Happiness’ (my favourite), ‘Hunstanton Pier’ (after where some of them come from), ‘Like a Ghost’, ‘Pensacola 2013’, ‘Pretty Low’ and ‘Caro Padre’. They came back on for an encore of ‘Trigger’ (my second favourite), ‘Boston Square’ and finished up with ‘Anemophobia Part II’.
They were a great live band. Deaf Havana now have a very polished all-round sound that is a distinctive sound to them. I like American post grunge music and I loved Deaf Havana so it’s great to have a bit of UK based post grunge. I can hear a lot of that style within their songs together with a slicing of alternative rock and Brit Pop. I thought they sounded like a great blend between Adelitas Way, Three Doors Down, Biffy Clyro, Candlebox, Bring Me The Horizon and Ed Sheeran all put together. The different styles were then put together in a unique Deaf Havana way. James is a great singer with a tiny bit of huskiness. He can vary it up during the set with either powerful or quieter vocals, and flowing on the more melodic tracks. Matthew’s guitar solos are blended perfectly into the songs and are slick and powerful without being unnecessary or over powerful. He jumps around stage all night long with an abundance of energy. Lee’s bass is perfectly balanced and Tom’s drums are mature and well-structured with just enough umph. The Keyboards of Max and the backing vocals through the tracks enhance all the songs in a really mature way. My favourite was ‘Happiness’ as I love songs that start gently and build up to a crashing crescendo which this track does in buckets. It starts with a quiet acoustic guitar and ebbs and flows whilst it takes you on a journey of the impacts of alcohol upon a relationship. Tom’s drums are awesome during it, hitting all the right parts it should and James’ vocals and Matthew’s lead are epic. I loved it.
It was a brilliant night, Deaf Havana certainly warmed me and 850 others up. I had a great evening and couldn’t recommend them enough to go and watch or listen to.
Check out their tour dates below:
17th - Nottingham Rock City
18th - Liverpool, Academy
20th - Aberdeen, Garage
21st - Edinburgh, Queens Hall
22nd - Newcastle, Northumbria University
24th - Cardiff, Y Plas
25th - Exeter, Lemon Grove
Deaf Havana; https://www.facebook.com/deafhavana/
Black Foxxes; https://www.facebook.com/blackfoxxesuk/
Cambridge Junction; https://www.facebook.com/cambjunction/