Saturday, 4 October 2014

Havana ball - Live review of Deaf Havana at Sub 89 Reading

Deaf Havana ****1/2*
Attention Thieves ***1/2**
Sub 89 Reading, 3rd October 2014

Firstly, apologies to Hearts Under Fire; due to having to struggle out to the wilds of Berkshire for tonight's show, I didn't hit the dizzying bosom of Reading in time for the early set. But the buzz in the attic after their opening slot seems to suggest they'd set things up nicely.

Attention Thieves ***1/2**
The first thing you notice about local lads Attention Thieves, well apart from bass player Ryan Davies, is that they're all bloody huge. They're like a performing New York sky line or an NBA team on a lads' night out (who've brought a wee friend out with them)

But it's not only physical hugeness that this quintet possess. There are chunky tunes, big drops, fat guitars, massive growls and impressive energy throughout their heavy alt rock infused set.

Ok, maybe a little harshly, there may be not a lot too new or staggeringly original about their offering (and tonight, they're fighting a sound man who buries most of the vocal deep down in the bombastic mix), but they're tight, bang on point, slick - without being anodyne or soulless - vibrant and, at times as heavy as a frustrated rhino's blue balls. And judging by the enthusiastic and warm reaction from the packed room, it works. 

There are many glimpses of influential underwear on show; from the sassy alt rock vibes of Hundred Reasons or even Reuben, the nu-UK rock sounds of Young Guns, tantalising hints of post pop punky ADTR chop and even a whiff of Alexis On Fire veering towards the lighter end of metal core a la Bury Tomorrow. Quite a heavy choice as an opener for the now far-from-heavy headline act, but, all-in-all, a bloody good big show from a bloody good big band. And little Ryan.

Deaf Havana ****1/2*
You know, it's a weird one that we're all here at all tonight. Not that downtown Reading is especially weird, it just feels like something must be going on in camp Havana. A couple of apparently random dates in a couple of smallish rooms in, well, provincial towns. A cancelled European tour. A new mini English tour coming up with no date in the Capital. 

After the last couple of years of apparent exponential growth, an evolutionary streamlining and defining of their blue collar 'people's rock' sound, a couple of brilliant and critically acclaimed long players, huge sell out shows at the likes of The Roundhouse, Clapham Grand and Shepherds Bush, even bigger main stage festival slots, support slots to some of the business's this. Back to basics. Rum indeed. 

Not that it matters a jot tonight, as by now the room is bulging and as packed as Ron Jeremy's budgie smugglers and there's a genuine crackle of excitement and anticipation hanging in the pheromone and sweat-saturated air.

From the opening banging bounce and beauty of Boston Square, any thoughts, fears or musing about why we're all here tonight are completely sublimated and eradicated. This is how to do a rock show. Oh yes. The small size and low ceiling simply serve to amplify and exaggerate the connection, the love, the energy and the consumate songcraft that these East Anglian buggers have dripping from every honest and integrity-filled pore.

James Veck-Gilodi's always special voice has seldom been better. I could swear he even smiles at least a couple of times during the riotous and perfectly executed set (although he hints at troubles, disgruntlement and has a pop at other bands' recent outputs - hmmmm, can't possibly imagine who he's referring to; maybe the spiky and wonderfully snidey paean to the toilet tour The Past Six Years is laden with extra bile and resonance this evening. Just sayin'.)

Whatever the reasons for being here, Deaf Havana sound as good or even better than they've ever sounded: every tune is an absolute banger with the salivating and cider-fuelled assembled bouncing, clapping and baying mob loving every second of the hour long rollercoaster ride.

There are genuine tear jerking moments in the thought-provoking and pain-soaked Anemophobia and majestic set-closer Caro Padre mixed with unbridled joy of toe tappers like Everybody's Dancing And I Want To Die and the woo hooo hoo hoos of I Will Try.

Whatever travails The Veck-Gilodi brothers and their merry band may or may not be going through, tonight they have cemented themselves as national treasures. Again. Let's hope they manage to keep this electrifying theme park ride on its rails and keep providing thrills, spills, gut-moving and heart-stopping moments.

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