Deaf Havana @ The Great Hall, Cardiff

April 15th was an exciting day for any Deaf Havana fan living in South Wales. Not only were the band set to play in the Great Hall at Cardiff University SU later that night, but James Veck-Gilodi was getting ready to perform a number of acoustic tracks in Cardiff’s Two Seasons ahead of the band’s in-shop meet and greet session. Of course, in typical Veck-Gilodi fashion, he had only woken up thirty minutes before he was set to go on stage and ended up forgetting half the words to his own songs. Regardless, his sense of humour combined with his musical and vocal talents definitely made up for it.

Later than evening, we moved on to the Great Hall for the tenth date of Deaf Havana’s headline tour. Kicking off the show were Welsh melodic folk band The People The Poet. I’d heard people raving about TPTP since this tour began, but as usual, I decided not to check out the band prior to the show. Needless to say, I was not disappointed on the night. Somehow, this band have managed to succeed in fusing the sounds of William Fitzsimmons, Deaf Havana and Frank Turner. For those of you interested in checking out TPTP, I would recommend ‘Being Human’ and ‘Heart of a Lion’.

Unfortunately, the second support band of the night were anything but enjoyable. For such a well-known band, Arizona five-piece The Maine were simply one of the worst acts I’ve ever seen. From spitting on the floor and crowd, to calling out people who obviously didn’t want to be bothered, to attempting to start a mosh pit while playing what I would call a terrible excuse for ‘pop punk’, the set was just disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the band sounded great, but with vocals that were almost impossible to understand and a horrible attitude towards fans, frontman Kennedy Brock just let everybody else down.

© Mike Lewis // Getty Images

Luckily, the night improved when Deaf Havana took to the stage and began their set with the anthemic ‘Lights‘ and ‘Everybody’s Dancing And I Want To Die‘. As expected, guitarist Matt Veck-Gilodi took over on lead vocals for ‘Mildred’ (below), which is always a great bonus, but it was the band’s performance of their most recent single ‘22‘, which had the crowd most enthusiastic. The whole night was a brilliant mash-up of tracks from Old Souls and 2012’s Fools and Worthless Liars, save for a few earlier singles.

Of course, the one song that every fan had been waiting for since the release of Old Souls was ‘Night Drives‘. One of the most heartwarming tracks that the band have ever recorded, the song was written by James Veck-Gilodi’s ex-girlfriend Catrina Davis, prior to their break-up late last year. Hearing the song live for the first time was personally one of the most overwhelming experiences I have ever had, and it’s that fans’ abilities to relate to these songs that make Deaf Havana shows something to remember.

Thankfully, Deaf Havana followed this up by throwing their best-known anthem ‘Boston Square‘ into their setlist, right before the incredibly emotional alternative version of ‘Anemophobia‘, and finishing the show with the huge ‘Caro Padre‘. The personal favourite from the show was the new edition of ‘Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life‘. Since the Unplugged tour a year ago, we’ve been hearing numerous versions of this track, but nothing comes close to the intensity of a Brand New-esque re-write. With James taking on some screaming duties (for the first time in what seems like forever) and some extra backing vocals similar to those on FAWL’s ‘Times Change, Friends Leave And Life Doesn’t Stop For Anybody‘, this was definitely one not to forget.

© JPS Images // Flickr

© JPS Images // Flickr

Despite The Maine letting us down a little, both Deaf Havana and The People The Poet put on an incredible live show. Deaf Havana were supposed to be supporting You Me At Six on tour in North America this week, but unfortunately, You Me At Six had to postpone. Not to worry though, as you can catch TPTP support Deaf Havana along with The First at a Reading and Leeds warm up show at Cambridge Junction on August 21st – tickets here.

Review by Kelly Ronaldson

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