LIVE: Deaf Havana / The Xcerts / Twin Wild @ Islington Assembly Hall, London

By Jess Tagliani

It seems like it’s been a long time since Deaf Havana have last toured, but they’ve had good reason for locking themselves away. They’re busy writing their next record, the one to follow the wonderful ‘Old Souls’ release, but have finally stepped foot outside of the studio to bring new and old material alike to the UK.

They’ve brought The Xcerts and Twin Wild out on the road with them, and it’s the latter that have been given the task of opening the night. But Twin Wild carry off such a demand with overwhelming ease and confidence; they blaze through a sweet set, laden with catchy hooks and melodic choruses. Their singles ‘Fears’ and ‘Another Stranger’ become the huge rock anthems that they’re meant to be, swelling with a huge energy, while new track ‘Bloodstone’ is dark and brooding, showing a different side to this London-based quartet. Twin Wild are true diamonds in the rough and could easily sell out venues like Islington’s Assembly Hall once they’ve released and showcased new material.

The Xcerts are quickly growing to be everyone’s favourites Scots, and they don’t disappoint tonight. Their radio-friendly tracks swell and soar, complete with slick riffs. The ever-charming Murray Macleod’s vocals are elephantine in size, and he has no trouble keeping the room in awe with how strongly he delivers their bruising rock songs. They end with ‘There Is Only You’, a beautiful yet haunting track that bursts into life; with vibrant and bold riffs, it’s the perfect closer to their strong set. Again, The Xcerts is another band that are doing incredibly well and will continue to do so, thanks to their refreshingly honest music.

When Deaf Havana step onto the stage, it’s like a switch has been flicked. The room goes quiet from the moment frontman James Veck-Gilodi first steps out, armed with only his guitar to open with an acoustic rendition of ‘The Past Six Years’. And, from there, the night only gets better. The whole crowd joins in with tracks such as ‘Little White Lies’, singing along with pure joy and enthusiasm, drowning out the band at times. It’s taken all in their stride, with smiles and laughs.

Deaf Havana barely slow down, storming through a set that sees the likes of ‘Mildred’, ‘Smiles All Round’ and ‘Boston Square’ being played to a rapt crowd. And they consistently hit the nail on the head in terms of how brilliant they are tonight; James and Matthew’s vocals complement each other perfectly, and the whole band’s energy is bold and dynamic. They’ve got that Bruce Springsteen confidence and swagger about them, which enables them to deliver the huge and rocky ‘22’. Despite being slightly heavier and darker than their other material, new track ‘Cassiopeia’ fits in well and, with its slick riffs, goes down a treat in the crowd.

They end on a high, with ‘The World Or Nothing’ and ‘Anemophobia’, which rounds off a wondrous night that’s highlighted their outstanding and staggering talent. From beginning to end, Deaf Havana have been awe-inspiring and, after tonight’s stellar performance, waiting for their next record is going to become even tougher.