Deaf Havana

Deaf Havana @ The Mill Birmingham, 28th March 2023

It’s been all change for Deaf Havana since their last album Rituals was released in 2018. Bassist Lee Wilson and drummer Tom Ogden, who were original members, left the band, leaving James Veck-Gilodi as the only remaining original member. His brother Matthew, who started touring with them in 2012, also remains, and new album The Present Is A Foreign Land was written by the two of them.

Completing the line up for this tour are a new bassist and drummer, who both looked totally at home and comfortable with James and Matthew, but it’s not clear whether they’re just touring with the band or are here to stay.

Starting the night were two support bands – Sick Joy and The LaFontaines. Glasgow alt-rock band The LaFontaines were extremely charismatic and likeable. Their fusion of alt-rock and rap went down well with the crowd, and singer Kerr Okan spent time out mingling with the punters, both during his set and at the merch stand after. Drummer Jamie Keenan sings many of the chorus vocals and his voice sits well with Kerr. The LaFontaines have had a period without any new releases, but mentioned a forthcoming album so watch this space. In the meantime, listen to their tracks ‘Alpha’ and ‘Release The Hounds’ which got the energy levels rising tonight.

Alt-rock band Deaf Havana opened their set with ‘Boston Square’ from their third album Old Souls. They also played ‘Caro Padre’ from that album – a powerful, hard-hitting song with a repeating chorus of “I am my father’s son”. There were no songs in today’s set pre-dating Old Souls, but several crowd-pleasers from All These Countless Nights – ‘Sing’, ‘Fever’, ‘Pensacola 2013’.

Naturally, the majority of the set was filled with songs from current album The Present Is A Foreign Land. Highlights tonight were ‘Going Clear’, ‘On A Wire’ and ‘Kids’. They all have catchy choruses you can sing along to, but with relatable, meaningful lyrics that I personally have a strong affinity to.

There were some slower and more contemplative songs worked into the middle of the set, and Deaf Havana have become somewhat known for these interludes in their past three albums. Tonight’s acoustic songs were ‘Nevermind’ and a re-worked version of ‘Holy’.

The show was plagued by technical issues for singer James, who had ongoing trouble with his in-ear monitor, and could be seen mouthing to the sound technician that his floor monitor wasn’t on either. He couldn’t hear what was happening around him and was becoming frustrated, saying he was just guessing on the timings. He had to leave the stage a couple of times to speak to one of the techs. Guitar and Synth player Matt tried to keep the momentum of the set going, but the issues caused several long breaks between songs. It seemed to get to James quite a lot and, other than apologising and thanking the audience a few times he didn’t engage with us too much. In my opinion the anthemic songs speak for themselves, and it didn’t curb my enjoyment, but there were several debates going on about it around the venue.

The main set closed with ‘Remember Me’, which also closes the band’s current album. It’s one of their more electronic songs with a futuristic synth riff and echoing drums, but there’s still a great guitar solo in the middle. The band came back to play electro-pop singalong ‘Sinner’ and nostalgic ‘Kids’.

The UK tour continues with five more dates.


Boston Square
On The Wire
Pensacola, 2013
The Present is a Foreign Land
Pretty Low
Caro Padre
Going Clear
Remember Me


Review- Chrissie Duxson


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