Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Deaf Havana, The LaFontaines, Sick Joy, The 1865, Southampton, 29/03/2023

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy (Phoenix, Exeter – 1st April 2023)

Deaf Havana are a band you should probably know by now. Whether it’s because of their 2011 classic album Fools and Worthless Liars or their recent effort The Present Is A Foreign Land, they’re no strangers to the music world even if their line-up has gone undergone changes since their debut. Now officially a two piece of brothers James Veck-Gilodi and Matthew Veck-Gilodi, they were out on the road again not too long since their last tour of the UK in November. On a cold, rainy night in Southampton we and plenty others made our way down the high street to one of the city’s best venues.

Opening tonight’s proceedings were grunge outfit Sick Joy. Being met by a half empty venue, it was clear this might not be the easiest challenge for the band but they were definitely going to try and get them on board. Their radio-friendly sound was exhibited through tracks such as don’t feel like dying and recently release Painkiller, confidently performing back-to-back tracks. Sometimes you just don’t need to make small talk with the crowd to leave a lasting impression on them, but as their set casually came to an end, it felt as if they’d have rather been anywhere but there tonight and the crowd seemingly felt the same. 5/10

It seemed like everyone had received the memo about The LaFontaines fun live show as the venue was suddenly a lot fuller for the Scottish trio’s set. Taking to the stage in as they described it a bingo hall, we think everyone will agree it was probably the most fun anyone had had in a bingo hall, especially one in Southampton. The trio’s aggressive hip-hop and rock sound with a melodic edge is showcased during tracks such as lesser played Body where Jamie Keenan’s vocals albeit beginning to appear strained, take centre stage. Fan favourite Under The Storm is a shining example of the band at their best live, the dual vocals contrast from Kerr Okan’s spoken word to Keenan’s melodic efforts lead this to accumulate in a punchy standout moment. Frontman Kerr Okan has an undeniable swagger about him and the chat to match, one moment on the stage and the next up on the balcony where he proclaims, “At one point I thought, these are my people!” looking out into the packed crowd. You know what? In this moment, the crowd were The LaFontaines people as they put on a headline worthy set with their unrivalled crowd interaction. 8/10

There was a really special atmosphere in The 1865 in the lead up to Deaf Havana’s headline set and as they took to the stage throwing themselves straight into their anthemic track Boston Square, it was clear something great was to follow.

Performing a setlist spanning material both old and new from; Worship to Someone/Somewhere, showcased the musical journey the band have been on but how really, they haven’t changed at all even as their sound has evolved. Wire saw the band at their finest flaunting their varied and wide-ranging dual vocals leading up to the sing-along chorus which was complimented by swirling guitar lines. Latest album title track, The Present Is A Foreign Land, offered up a rowdier moment when Matthew’s raw vocals became the focus, turning things up a notch to become trapped in your head for the foreseeable.

One of our favourite parts of the set came with the double whammy of acoustic Nevermind followed by a new take on Holy. The atmosphere changed during Nevermind as the captivated crowd softly sung back the chorus; ‘it’s been a hell of a year, I’m struggling to see what the next one looks like without you here‘ accompanied by Matthew on keys. Leading into Holy, this was when we saw the true vocal power of the Veck-Gilodi brothers coming together, bouncing off each other to create a lyrically and musically beautiful moment for all to enjoy.

Some band’s sound better when recorded compared to live, for us it feels like Deaf Havana are the opposite of this as when before our eyes they come to life championed by James’ stage presence and vocal range. Offering a bit of a rock, some electro edge and also some acoustic vibes for good measure, it offered a bit for everyone during the set. Caro Padre has an air of elegance about this, but a guttural punch within especially when the instrumental section comes to life. Progressing through the set, it’s obvious that tonight meant as much to the band as it did the audience watching, with James letting us know ‘this has been our favourite show of the tour’ followed by Matthew supporting this ‘sometime you get little reminders of just how fun it is to do what we’re able to do. So thank you’

19dreams, Going Clear and Remember Me see the duo, accompanied by touring members Luke Campbell and Kyle Deek coming together as an unbreakable unit; slick and simple born to be on that stage together. Taking the time to have some fun, crowd-interaction moments between the packed setlist we went from Matthew spotting a crunchie-eater in the crowd and sparking a chocolate chat, the band trying to establish when they were actually last in Southampton… we never did get a definitive answer and even the used q-tip mystery; trust us the less you know the better!

As the set began to draw to a close, James wasn’t about to go quietly as the venue became a funky, bingo-hall dancefloor during Pray as he bounded across the stage ensuring everyone knew of his presence. Informing the crowd; “you made a shitty day really fucking good“, it was clear that in those 85 minutes they were onstage, for the band and everyone else in the room nothing else mattered as the track was supported by a energetic crowd sing-along. Closing their set with Kids; one of the bands favourite tracks to perform live, the final words of ‘you might get lost from time to time, cause you’re still just a kid trying to survive’ rung out and provided the reminder we all needed.

There was something wonderfully nostalgic about tonight, for people in the room whose teens were filled with drunken memories of shouting along to The Past Six Years, those who stumbled across the band at one of their many festivals slots and those who just wanted a Wednesday night out; it felt as if we were all there to simply appreciate good live music. Deaf Havana remain one of the greatest British rock outfits out there and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. 9/10

Written By: Nicola Craig

Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy (Phoenix, Exeter – 1st April 2023)

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar