As tonight’s punters pour into the inconspicuous North London venue, it feels as though we’ve stumbled upon one of the capital’s hidden gems.
Islington Assembly Hall isn’t a stranger to gigs of this ilk, but as we gaze up at the church-like details adorning the intimate but stunning venue, it’s a wonder it isn’t flooded with more shows. The pop up bar (complete with school hall-style snacks) probably has something to do with it, mind.
For most inside the venue early, tonight’s support are as much a draw as the headliners. Aberdeen/Exeter trio The Xcerts have had a brilliant year. Still riding high off the excellence of 2014’s Shaking In The Water, tonight acts as somewhat of a curtain call on the album. Pop Song, Live Like This, Kids On Drugs and the title track proving – much like every gig we’ve seen them play this year – that the 11-track record contains the very finest of their back catalogue.
Opening with The Past Six Years feels undeniably fitting for Deaf Havana, as frontman James Veck-Gilodi recites lyrics about being young, unemployable, lonely and drunk. That was the old them, of course, and so are the tales of misguided past, which continue through Youth In Retrospective, Leeches and 22; unifying the room like an angst-fuelled choir.
“Thank you for waiting around for us to f**king sort ourselves out,” James says between songs, “We’re ready to do it again.” And with guitarist and brother Matthew dropping hints about the band’s next record, attention is fixed firmly on the future for Deaf Havana.
British rock may be flourishing with new bands but as these familiar London bandmates fly through a solid 16-song set so effortlessly, you’d still be hard pushed to find a bunch of musicians that are as determined and focused as Deaf Havana.