Manchester’s Deaf Institute holds host to HONNE tonight, on one of the Northern legs of their first UK headline tour. It’s a big step up for them. The band head onto the stage bang on 9pm. “We’re HONNE as you know”, although that’s simply Andy and James. HONNE are also accompanied by an additional drummer, bassist and female backing vocalist, although throughout the show it is clear the band dynamics and chemistry are between the two frontmen. James stands pretty straight and unwavering in front of his keys, facing Andy who sings his heart out and is the clear star of the show. ‘The Night’ shows off his deep and remarkably smooth vocal as it washes over the lounge-style soulful beats: “if you spend the night with me, I will make it worth your while”.
The room is packed, and packed full of hardcore fans at that. It’s a mixed crowd, whether they’re 15 or 45, this electro-soul is for anyone and everyone. Hit track ‘Coastal Love’ receives the largest singalong of the night, and the loudest cheers as Andy says “this song will keep you warm on a cold night” preceding simple but effectively tuneful track ‘Warm On A Cold Night’. HONNE succeed in their mission to create music that’s unique and different; they’re well outside the box.
There’s no denying HONNE are brilliant at what they do. Their tracks are a modern but nostalgic twist on classic soul underlined with funky beats, supreme songwriting and performing are all obvious. Unfortunately, there’s not much in these types of songs that a live performance particularly enhances. If anything, it conveys the unfortunate fact that a select few tracks are pretty similar. Additionally, the chilled vibe aka repeatedly slow tempo of each song accentuates this issue.
The band won me back with new single ‘Loves The Jobs You Hate’ from their Over Lover EP. The intro is upbeat and funky, it’s more pop than soul, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was a new 1975 song (coincidentally it’s much better than The 1975’s ‘Love Me’). The track blossoms with an interesting and unpredictable melodic line and some stellar drumming. Overall, HONNE produce great tracks and some excellently written songs – I just don’t know if I’d bother to see them live again.