Deaf Havana / Black Foxxes / Decade
Leeds Beckett University – 15/11/17
When I saw this tour announced I couldn’t help but think that whoever organised this really had their ear to the ground. Bringing together the new-wave grunge of Black Foxxes, the thoughtful lyricism of Decade and the veteran catalogue from Deaf Havana was a stroke of genius.
Decade step onto the stage to a modest crowd, kindly introduce themselves and then begin to work through songs from the new album ‘Pleasentries’. It’s hard not to appreciate a band like Decade that have such well-crafted song structure. They tend to not over-complicate things on stage and let the music do the talking. That’s definitely the case here – from an album that you can most-definitely play through without skipping a single song, the live show holds up just as well. There’s a satisfying balance between the reserved but emotional delivery from Alex Seers backed up by Connor Fathers and his relentless energy. A performance that left me wanted more, but only because it was so enjoyable. If you don’t want a tambourine after watching Decade, you need to have a good look in the mirror. Who knew it could look that badass? (8.5)
Black Foxxes come on as the room is beginning to fill even more, the 3 piece from Exeter full of raw, authentic attitude ready to take Leeds on a unique journey through their catalogue of raucous tunes. When Black Foxxes play it feels right to shut up and stand in awe as they bring a fresh twist to an ever diluted rock scene. Songs like Slow Jams Forever scream attitude and really show the vocal abilities of lead man, Mark Holley. His ability to shout/scream and fall into a tame sung line bring a wonderful juxtaposition of love and hate that resonates throughout the set. (8)
Can we just start calling Deaf Havana legends at this point? 12 years in the business, 4 albums (2 top 10), 5 EPs and countless headline tours leave them as legit veterans of this game. That is clear when you see them live. A band so comfortable on stage that it looks effortless. They’ve begun to do things just to keep themselves entertained like using 4 different Stranger Things quotes to intro songs (they came on to the theme from the show at Leeds Festival in 2016). An extended set list that covers songs from DH’s catalogue of hits. It was a pleasure to see them pull out songs like Hunstanton Pier, to the delight of the Leeds contingent. The last couple of times I’ve seen Deaf Havana play it’s been underwhelming due to illness, loss of voice or general lack of energy. That really wasn’t the case this time around. They looked like they were genuinely enjoying what they were doing and that reflected in the crowd. It did feel like a few big songs were missing in favour of the band playing their favourites (nothing wrong with that). It would have been great to hear Everybody’s Dancing or 22 but I digress. Something Deaf Havana benefit from is the back and forth between front man James and brother, Matt. You can’t beat the connection that brothers have and it makes for a genuine source of entertainment between songs. All in all a confident set from Deaf Havana but nothing exceptional that blew my mind. (7.5)
Check out more live photos of Deaf Havana in Leeds here!
Review: Will Paddison
Photos: © Danny Peart Photography