Familiar desk lamps and bouquets of flowers adorned the stack amplifiers as the flood of attendees began to wash inside Bristol’s O2 Academy for the evening’s festivities. Supporting the evening’s headliners was none other than crazed Londoners, Dead!, bringing their brand of grunge rock to the damned restless future of music lovers.
Alex Mountford began his own onslaught of wild arm swings, unexplainable facial expressions and exasperated singing. Mentioned by a few in the crowd, his vocals hold similarities to All American Reject’s Tyson Ritter but hone alternative tweaks in falsetto slips and unique shrieks that make him quite an original front man.
His fellow band members each added their own stage persona, keeping the visual aspect of the set quite interesting. As guitarist brothers Sam Matlock and Louis Matlock flung guitars back and forth through the air, bassist Sam Chappell remained a string-plugging rock that occasionally shifted from place to face the opposite end of the crowd. Their repertoire included fan favourites, Something More Original and You’re So Cheap which both hold heavy influence from past kings of grunge and a healthy supply of guitar soloing.
Up next was Dinosaur Pile-Up, a three-piece alternative rock group (with elements of surfer rock delicately woven into their guitar riffs) who brought big and lively tracks to the venue (with enough bite to even fire up a tiny mosh pit). Although the crowd appeared more docile than when their musical predecessors who started the show, it was clear they were thoroughly enjoyed when the trio finished on their latest single taken from their third album, Eleven Eleven titled 11:11 (based on seeing these four digits everywhere during a long haul tour).
After the second interval, the typical gig build-up was initiated as the lights lowered and a deep noiseless ringing emanated over the venue before the Norfolk quintet strode out, soaked in deep red stage lights as they adorned and quickly prepped their instruments. A beautiful pale blue firebird was walked out, wrapped around James Veck-Gilodi’s neck which sat patiently waiting for its introduction with opening track Ashes, Ashes.
The stage lights ran through the colour chart with blood reds, ocean blues, lilac pinks, sun-drenched yellows and brilliant white lights pumping from the rigging as Deaf Havana made their way through their set list of hit singles. Gilodi’s gut wrenching expressions while singing hadn’t altered over the course of their near twelve year journey together and although they had lost members along the way, it was apparent that every choice made was the right one in terms of line-up.
It is also noteworthy that with their song selection closing in to twenty tracks with popular numbers such as Fever, Sing, Mildred and 22, they have only released four albums through their career and only played music from two of them (speaking wonders about the quality of the material they write).
The audience became involved in the performance from the offset, singing their hearts out as hands and phones were raised in adoration for the group, while Tom Ogden drowned in fog machines and big drum fills as guitarist Matthew Veck-Gilodi bounced between electric, acoustic and the helm in singing roles for various tracks.
The huge highlight of the night may have had a few contending moments but it was unmistakably hearing the occupants of the entire building since the catchy chorus and verses of The Past Six Years that really personified the special relationship the band shared with those who love their music.
Written by: Nathan Roach
Photos by: Nathan Roach