Deaf Havana at Rock City, Nottingham

After an overwhelming public reaction to their recent release of Old Souls (which charted in the top 10 of the Official Album Chart and you can read a review of here), Deaf Havana went on their biggest headline tour to date – including selling out London’s Roundhouse on the final night. Throughout the tour, the band were joined by supports Big Sixes and Charlie Simpson who both put on incredible shows and complimented the main set terrifically.

editThe set opened with the first released track off the album, Boston Square. It’s been said hundreds of times, but I’ll say it again – the most noticeable aspect of their mere presence of stage is that, as a whole, they’re exponentially happier than they were six months ago, on their previous tour. It may partially be down to the fact that their music is more upbeat too, although James (Veck-Gilodi) still manages to keep the sincerity of the lyrics in his voice.

The second track of the night is the cheerful yet pessimistic Little White Lies off the band’s previous album – Fools and Worthless Liars. The original track features Portia Conn, but for the tour the band are accompanied by soul singer Grace Barrett who features on the new album in Subterranean Bullshit Blues. Most of the night alternates between the two albums, the third track being I Will Try. This was a highlight of the night for me, as James handed the singing to the crowd towards the end. Hearing so many people sing the lines “we will try / our best to find a smile / and we will close our eyes and say / we’re not afraid this time” in perfect unison left me awe-stricken; it was only a few years ago they were playing small bars and clubs, now they’re playing festivals and gigs to hundreds of people.

For the first half of the main set, the energy in the room continued to grow until it quite literally felt as though it couldn’t be contained. Of course, with a change in musical influences and genre – from post hardcore to Springsteen-style rock – there came a surprise in the set-list; before playing Tuesday People, the band played a little of Springsteen’s own I’m On Fire. Part way through the night, James comments on how good he finds it to see increasingly older fans at the shows, and he’s right – to say how good friends the band are with members of bands such as Architects and Mallory Knox, due to their shift in influences, there’s a much wider range of people in the room. It’s one of the greatest things about their style of music; it can appeal to so many people.

After a few more songs, the set begins to slow and wind down, with songs such as Saved, Anemophobia and a cover of The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love. The main set finishes on the consistently heart-wrenching Hunstanton Pier – a track ideal for swaying in time and waving lighters, so that’s what happened. When the band left the stage after such a moving track, the crowd where clearly begging for more, and (on three occasions) burst into chants of “we want more!”

Of course, there was more to come. The three track encore of I’m A Bore, Mostly, Mildred and Fifty Four meant the night finished on a fantastic note –it was particularly special to see Matthew (Veck-Gilodi) contributing the majority of the vocals to the second of those tracks. It was also incredible how well Grace fitted into the entire set, although her performance really stood out in I’m a Bore, Mostly. It’s apparent that this band have done a lot of growing up and growing comfortable in their own skins since Old Souls was released, and their stage presence is as astounding as ever.

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