Review: Deaf Havana at World Headquarters Newcastle
Deaf Havana have been together for the best part of a decade and rose through the ranks to become a well known name in the alt-rock scene. Back in the day, they dominated the U.K and festival scene. They have recently released a brand new album – ‘ The Present is a Foreign Land.’ Kerrang stated the Norfolk brothers – James and Matt Veck- Gilodi were ‘finally starting to sound like themselves again…’ and I couldn’t agree more. In 2021, the brothers decided to stay as a duo as the other two members of their band departed. They had a bassist and drummer join them for this tour who were quite frankly – epic!
I have seen Deaf Havana three times previously back in my University days in Leeds so had high hopes when seeing them once again. I was praying for some throwback tunes such as 22 and Everybody’s Dancing and I Want to Die. Old Souls was one of my favourite albums circa 2013. Alas, there was neither but they did play Anemophobia from the previous album which gave me a little nostalgia.
Our night started with a bit of an unexpected venue change- moving from NX to World Headquarters which we had been unaware of. So a special shout-out goes to Gabriel Day and the team on the door for helping to resolve this for us also!
I have never visited WHQ and was pleasantly surprised by the intimate venue. Great acoustics for such a little room. However, with it being so small even getting to the bar was a real struggle and I felt as though I was annoying everyone trying to get through. Then we encountered the issue of where to actually stand. As you can see we got a great little spot right to the side of the stage. One of my friends actually messaged me and asked if we were on stage with them! For huge fans of a fairly well known band this tiny venue was extremely exciting. As the room filled up so did the heat levels – it was certainly a sweaty one!
As they entered the stage the crowd had a gentle buzz but there seemed to be that lack of euphoric roar that I have experienced at my last few gigs. It felt much more mellow from the off. They began with the first two songs from their new album – Pocari Sweat and 19dreams- and James Veck- Gilodi’s vocals were as stunning as ever. Great control, rasp and emotive singing throughout the gig. The control of his voice is wild – from a sweet gentle tune to a rich, raspy and rocky roar he nails it every time, of course with the backing of his brother. The audience stayed subdued for the first few songs and I won’t lie I did feel a lull as we got to song three and they still hadn’t addressed the crowd. I did particularly enjoy Trigger though and the audience seemed to liven up a little at this absolute BOP!
It was great to see the comradery between the boys on stage as they looked so comfortable together and relaxed. Probably, as this was the last night of their tour! I saw them having a good giggle together as the show went on and this made me so happy as an audience member. At song number five they finally addressed their audience about how it had been a hot minute since they had played a venue like this. The crowd reaction was a strange one at this gig. I won’t lie. I didn’t feel the buzz that I usually do at gigs- potentially due to not being right in the middle of the crowd or maybe because their whole setlist was full of very mellow songs.
My personal highlight of the gig was when the acoustic guitar came out. They sang one of my ultimate Deaf Havana songs – Nevermind. Passionate, filled with raw grit and meticulous harmonies. I had chills. The audience actually joined in for this one too. I was shocked! After hearing this song I could have left a happy lady. I was really impressed with how slick the guitar changes were and we were never left without live music for very long. What I certainly will say is that they managed to cram in a total of 21 songs in the time they were on stage, which is quite frankly awesome.
During Anemophobia the bassist and drummer left the stage and mingled with the crowd. This was a really nice touch and they seemed such lovely, genuine guys too. Not one bit of arrogance. A stunning duo of songs from the brothers followed before the boys joined them back on stage. They finished act one with their token ‘pop song’ – Sinner. It still got the crowd singing and dancing though!
They returned to the stage for their encore of – The Present is a Foreign Land, Fever and Remember Me. None of which are particularly my favourite songs – I won’t lie I was expecting an old banger to come out. Nevertheless, the energy was finally up there. An energetic end to the encore and the drummer’s enthusiasm was 10/10!
Overall, a strange gig. I was expecting more after seeing them before but I cannot deny the talent onstage was brilliant. I wanted the audience to be more hyped and I think this could have happened with a more varied set list.
Venue – 3/5 – It was nice to visit somewhere new but very small, extremely hot and the toilets need a spruce up!
Gig – 3/5 – Great vocals, average setlist, wanted more from the crowd.
Review by Robyn
We received guest-list access to this gig courtesy of the venue.