Deaf Havana @ Bristol O2 Academy

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Norfolk-based six-piece Deaf Havana have been taking over the UK music scene since the release of their third studio album Old Souls. October 18th saw hundreds of fans pile into Bristol’s O2 Academy to see them take on their biggest headline tour yet, supported by none other than folk-rock sensation Charlie Simpson and upcoming alternative band Big Sixes.

Warming up the crowd with fan favourites such as The Hunter and Swallowing Flies, along with an incredible new song titled Scared Better, Big Sixes showed that they definitely know how to put on a great show in such a short amount of time. A personal highlight (one that I’m sure the rest of the crowd would agree with) was the moment Deaf Havana frontman James Veck-Gilodi and drummer Tom Ogden joined Big Sixes on stage to provide extra vocals for the final song of their set, Love Let Me Go.

Up next was Charlie Simpson. He’s been one third of one of the UK’s most famous boy bands, frontman of a much loved rock band, and now Charlie Simpson has spent the last few years getting his name out there as a solo artist. With a full backing band, Charlie put on an excellent show, opening with Parachutes, a fan favourite from his debut album Young Pilgrim. He surprised the crowd mid-set with a new song, currently untitled, and finished with the incredible Riverbanks.

Finally, out came Deaf Havana, kicking off their set with the anthemic Boston Square (below). It’s been said many times that Deaf Havana’s stage presence alone is what makes their shows something to remember, and I couldn’t agree more. For a group of twenty-something guys that used to hate touring and were sick of playing the same old songs, it really makes a difference to see that the band as a whole are much happier.

Personal highlights for this set included the live debut of Everybody’s Dancing And I Want To Die and an incredible cover of The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love. The band also performed an Old Souls favourite, Tuesday People, surprising fans with an intro of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. After numerous changes in the line-up, you’d think that maybe Deaf Havana had taken things a little too far, but with Grace Barrett on backing vocals (Grace also provided vocals on Subterranean Bullshit Blues, the fourth track from Old Souls) it seems Deaf Havana just keep getting better and better.

The band left the stage after an emotional performance of Hunstanton Pier, a song which (much like earlier that night when I Will Try was performed) had the crowd singing their hearts out – a clear indication that James’ lyrics really are something special. But there was more to come when the guys came back on stage with a three-song encore consisting of I’m A Bore, Mostly, Mildred and Fifty Four. It was great to see Matt Veck-Gilodi contributing the majority of the vocals for Mildred, and Fifty Four was the perfect ending to an incredible show.

Review by Kelly Ronaldson

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