LIVE: Deaf Havana @ O2 Academy, Bristol

By Eloise Bulmer

It’s a damp and windy evening in Bristol, and Deaf Havana’s first full U.K. tour since the release of their most recent album ‘RITUALS’ has arrived at the o2 Academy. Splitting opinions with it’s pop-heavy sound, this isn’t their first experience of metamorphosing through music; they’ve previously moved from the heavier post-hardcore of their first album to the Americana-washed material of more recent releases.

There definitely seems to be a case of the Sunday evening blues in the academy considering the usually rousing ‘Mildred’ doesn’t make much of an impression, with a few tame hands going up in the air but with most people just watching politely. It’s a mood that perseveres throughout the evening. The band’s usual fire being absent makes you wonder whether there was some truth behind their jokes about wanting to go home and sleep. The luminous pink cross that hangs behind them does add a feeling of reverence to the evening though, making their moodier cuts shimmer as they play off the atmosphere. ‘Cr33pin’ is a particular highlight – clearing the stage for synths, drum machines and vocals as the band commit to a glossier sound. Unfortunately, tracks like ‘Holy’ and ‘Sinner’ don’t sound as huge as they do on record, however the latter does inspire a choral singalong which closes out the set on a high.

Cherry-picking from their expansive back-catalogue contributes to the set feeling a little clunky at times, and despite an attempt at cohesion by adding synth flourishes to older songs, it can at times sound unnecessary. Fan favourites ‘Youth In Retrospect’ and ‘Sing’ go down a treat, the anticipation for the latter’s now almost iconic lyric, “I heard you bought a house last month, well good for fucking you” paying off as the music cuts for the audience to scream their hearts out. After releasing an album that departs from their previous sound, it’s expected that the band will face teething problems in their live show, but the highs remain as high as ever.