Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Live Review: Deaf Havana at Phase One - Liverpool

On one side of the venue, there was an envious collection of vinyl, CDs and other music memorabilia, where music enthusiasts browsed and picked up their next music obsession. 

The other side had a chattering buzz, glasses clanging together and an impressive beer garden perfect for the hot sunny day. 

Part bar, part record shop – there was something about Liverpool’s Phase One that made it the ideal fit for a small, intimate album release show.

The day after the latest album, ‘The Present is a Foreign Land’, was released, the audience came in their masses. Arriving early, they planted themselves firmly in a spot right next to the stage and refused to move to watch the now-duo, Deaf Havana perform for the first time in Liverpool in five years. The energy levels were high with anticipation with a flow of pints and many brown bags with the vinyl poking out from inside. 

The set-up was simple, not overly done, with a single acoustic guitar, two microphones, a drum kit and a keyboard. With a wash of purple lighting and a twinge of pink, James and Mathew Veck-Gilodi came onto the stage accompanied by a guest drummer to roaring applause. Their faces were beaming with gratitude and excitement.

Greeting the crowd, James uttered “these songs are f—king depressing” before opening the entire set with the track ‘Kids’; the Veck-Gilodi brothers’ favourite of the album. It was a very stripped-back version of the song, simple yet brilliant. All audience members were silent; all eyes were on the duo. James’ vocals, albeit consistently strong, were absolutely incredible in this performance. Performed with nothing but sheer passion, alongside the vocals of Mathew, their harmonies flowed together perfectly. The most impressive part? They did not rehearse once. 

It wasn't just songs from the new album that they played. Adding in the track 'Happiness'  from their fourth album, 'All These Countless Nights', added a more known song, allowing room for that dose of audience interaction. The familiarity with this track meant the audience sang along, even taking over and singing the entire chorus back to Deaf Havana. The looks on the brothers' faces were priceless; full of gratitude and reconfirming that passion and drive for the band.  

The banter between the two brothers was great to see. Though the songs performed were more serious, it was an excellent way to break up the set, even having chats with members of the crowd and shouting out a birthday or two. Things took an emotional turn with a speech from James, thanking those in attendance for purchasing/listening to the album. “I put a lot of myself into this record, I’m so proud of it; I’m never proud of anything I do…so, thank you so much.” 

‘19dreams’ was the personal highlight of the night. In the first song written on the new record, Mathew and James swapped places during this performance, with Mathew taking over on guitar and as the main vocals. A comical moment during this song was James having to use his phone’s notes app to remind himself of the lyrics. Despite this, the performance was exceptional. With perfectly timed harmonies, the acoustic version of ‘19dreams’ is as strong as the original and the audience's attention does not leave the stage the entire time. 

It is without a doubt that Deaf Havana are back and stronger than ever. This intimate set not only showcased the new album but reminded fans precisely who the band are and reaffirmed their talent as a duo. These intimate shows are an insight into their tour later this year and this newfound clarity is an exciting time for Deaf Havana.

Ana Joy King


Image: Ana Joy King

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