Certainly, a lot has changed for rock six-piece Deaf Havana since they last travelled to the Scottish capital in 200?. The band transfigured their early post-hardcore sound into an alt-rock set up with Worthless Fools and Liars in 2010, and followed that transition with the release of new record Old Souls, a smash success sampling everything from rock and blues to soul and jazz.
The evolution of the group’s sound has seen them become definitively defined as one of the most musically pure artists around, and this organic nature translated effervescently onto the live stage in Edinburgh.
Opening with Old Souls' lead single Boston Square, the band set off to a storming start. With their natural sound tag so important to the group, a certain sentiment of pressure can arise on the Englishmen to shine on the stage, and they did not disappoint. Striking guitar chords launched the opener with an extended intro before Veck-Gilodi introduced his trademark vocals; rough and raw with a tentative touch.
A generous selection of songs from the group’s latest two albums followed, with upbeat Old Souls tracks Everybody’s Dancing And I Want to Die and Tuesday People wedged between past favourites Little White Lies and I Will Try. The former couplet worked again to promote the smart development and versatility of their recent release, the latter two cuing mass sing-a-longs with progressive rock beats featuring irresistible hooks, quick string work and a big shift from drummer Tom Ogden.
What would follow though would be a further match up of new and old tracks to emphasise beyond all doubt the perfectly unpolluted personality in the work of Deaf Havana. First, hit classic The Past Six Years was sounded, with sweet acoustic guitar melodies meeting meaningful lyrics and veracious vocals to sing them. Next, Saved – a top trump Old Souls – was floated around the venue, with lead guitarist Chris Pennells caressing the strings of his instrument in a manner many would have thought lost to the likes of Phil Lynott. There should never have been any doubt regarding the ability of Deaf Havana, but if there was, this dynamic double could have convinced the most sceptical of critics of the group’s pure innovative brilliance. It is at times like this that the group are at their best.
An interesting final third of the hour plus set followed, with a heavy rendition of Anaemophobia preceding a cool cover of The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love and the anthemic Hunstanton Pier closing out the regular concert. Aging favourite I’m A Bore Mostly set the crowd alight on the encore, with the well known riffs and lyrics rebounding back to the stage as the audience put their lungs into use.
A superbly memorable set which lived up to every expectation accompanying the natural styling tag of Deaf Havana.