Going from a swan song to an album comparable to seeing a Phoenix rise from its ashes, Deaf Havana have come back fighting in the last few months after the future of the band was looking precarious, and tonight is set to mark their return in no uncertain terms.
Before Deaf Havana are due to take the stage however, Dead! and Dinosaur Pile-Up have the delightful duty of warming the crowd up. Sounding loud and a little pissed off from the get go, Dead! introduce the room to their brand of angst driven rock. True to their namesake, the band have definitely taken some inspiration from My Chemical Romance in their songwriting and performance full of melodrama as vocalist Alex careers around the stage.
Dinosaur-Pile Up are bringing a more pop-punk vibe to the evening’s proceedings with juddering songs and a patchwork of guitar riffs. The track that gets the best response is ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans’ which gets a few people down the front jumping up and down with hands in the air. The last track to be performed, ’11:11′ from their 2015 album of the same name (stylised Eleven Eleven) brings possibly the heaviest moment of the night and suitably warms the room up for Deaf Havana‘s entrance.
If ‘Ashes’ was the proper way to kick off the bands latest album ‘All These Countless Nights’, then it’s more than an appropriate way to begin their set tonight as it sets the mood of renewal, celebration and resilience. The entire sold-out crowd are singing along so loudly it sounds as if a couple of lungs could burst, and James Veck-Gilodi only encourages it, letting the audience sing verses at a time. “Fucking beautiful” he says with a grin on his face. “We’re home” he continues, which is met with a loud cheer, before going on to explain that “London’s home now. It’s been home for years”, a high honour to bestow from a band that have written many love songs to their home town.
The setlist is a balance of old and new material, as they dip into both their ‘Old Souls’ and ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ albums. Although the majority of their songs are overwhelmingly pessimistic, a sense of positivity radiates from the band as they perform on stage, with James thanking everyone here multiple times and stating that “tonight is one of the best shows of my life, if not the best”. ‘Tuesday People’ is a testament to why this is a band that have helped many people through difficult times in their life, and it’s a highlight performance of the night, despite the lead guitar being almost inaudible at points.
The night is very much an ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ moment for the band, and old tracks are peppered with moments that make them sound anything but tired. During ‘Hunstanton Pier’, after singing “a girl I used to know made me a promise once, I wonder if she kept it or if she even remembers it?” James laughs and adds “she fucking doesn’t” –it’s those moments that make you feel like you’re witnessing something personal and heart-wrenching for the band. Tonight’s show is definitely a moment in history, not just for Deaf Havana themselves but for all the people there to watch them rise from the ashes.