LIVE: Deaf Havana / iDKHOW @ O2 Academy Brixton

By Yasmin Brown

Despite releasing what might objectively be their best album yet earlier this year, Deaf Havana have had a limited public profile in 2018, playing just a handful of shows in the past six months. With that being the case, the anticipation leading up to their massive headline show at Brixton Academy was unlike any the band had experienced before. There were a lot of expectations to live up to.

Main support came from iDKHOW, a genre-defying duo made up of Dallon Weekes (ex-Panic! At the Disco) and Ryan Seaman (ex-Falling In Reverse). Together, their charisma, talent and charm made for a perfect opening act, being highly entertaining throughout and clearly having picked up a solid fanbase in the few months since signing to Fearless Records. With funky bass lines from Weekes and an impressive drumming performance from Seaman, the crowd was raring to go by the time Deaf Havana took to the stage.

Doused in purple lighting and the pink neon cross that has become a signature feature of the few shows supporting new album ‘Rituals’, the band took to the stage to launch into their 22 song setlist. Made up of a satisfying mix of old and new, there was something to suit everyone; whether you’d been a fan since ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’, or just recently learnt to love them, you were bound to hear at least a few of your favourite Deaf Havana tracks.

At first, the crowd remained fairly stationary as they sung along to every word, with only a few hands reaching excitedly into the air every now and then. While this might be interpreted as a lack of energy, in reality, it felt more like a true appreciation of the music than anything else – particularly when it came to the acoustic part of the set which saw front man James Veck-Gilodi move to the sound booth to perform ‘The Past Six Years’ and ‘Happiness’.

The energy picked up as James returned to the main stage to perform ‘Ashes, Ashes’, ’Trigger’, and ‘Holy’ – evidently three fan favourites – and bodies started sporadically clambering upon their friends’ shoulders to experience the show from above. While this should have been just the start of the best part of the set, it only led to James being forced to call out some guys in the stalls for starting a fight, something that is sadly becoming far too commonplace for an event that is supposed to feel safe for all in attendance.

Despite this, the rest of the show appeared to go off without any further issues, and the incident was quickly forgotten as the band continued with their extensive set, playing ‘Worship’ and ‘Fever’ to a room full of delighted patrons. The band themselves seemed awestruck by the sight before them, having spent years building this fanbase and claiming that this particular show had been ’10 years in the making’. It might have been a long time coming, but they made it – and very few people have worked harder to get to where they are today.

Following ‘Pensacola, 2013’, the band took a short break before coming back to play three final songs. Surprisingly, the show didn’t close with ‘Sinner’ – an obvious choice with it being the lead single from ‘Rituals’ – but instead the band chose 2012’s ‘Hunstanton Pier’, catering to older fans for the grand finale. That said, ‘Sinner’ was a stand out performance, incorporating a gospel-like crowd singalong that encapsulated the theme of the whole album and was enough to send shivers down your spine.

With a full tour of the UK and Ireland kicking off early next year, this is bound to be just the start of a successful era for Deaf Havana, whose music is increasingly reaching new ears as they continue to grow as a band. We’re very excited to see what 2019 might bring.