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HONNE: Gig Review

HONNE: Gig Review

By: Christine Reynolds

Having first harnessed a current in 2014 (at the Sebright Arms, in Bow), the duo continue to surge forward in this electronic-fuelled decade with both energy and soul, making an impact which is impressive when you realise this was once only a hobby to them.

The electronic Brixton once held in my eye-site the sight of 'Floetry' which was a pleasant site to see. Picture the songstress tweeting and harmonising, whislt 'The Floacist" grooved upon the stage bringing back the 80's swag and voice that captivated a room to rise and cheer, I figured; 'Honne' would have the perfect venue to electrify the audeince as this is the place to do it. 

HONNE (Andy and James) have quickly established themselves as international talents. Having first harnessed a current in 2014 (at the Sebright Arms, in Bow), the duo continue to surge forward in this electronic-fuelled decade with both energy and soul, making an impact which is impressive when you realise this was once only a hobby for them.

When I arrived, the Electric was buzzing in anticipation. The DJs were pumping out instrumental music and electronic sounds that reminded me of the 80s and 90s, with the heavy synths/drum machines, and the electro-mechanic features that are popular today; whilst conversations from the excited crowd varied from, ‘loving the venue,’ to ,‘I love HONNE!’ And, of course, ‘Booze, more booze!’. As the floor began to fill, the space I occupied (a couple of steps up from the main floor) swayed with a steady flow of nodding heads and cans of beer. Amidst this excitement, I raised my eyes to where bustling bodies ringed the upper decks and others peered over the edges waiting patiently for the first act to come on stage.

Although small in appearance HONNE's supporting act 'Jones' lit up the stage on entry. Donned in a glittery red jacket, the lighting appeared to glimmer in harmony as she burst into song. ‘Indulge’ had her voice finding tremendous depth on the microphone, which I found melodic and hypnotic. Whilst ‘Lonely Cry’ was a touching and sadder follow-up. The association of loneliness and humility to the cries of lost connection resembled the pining of HONNE's Andy - who would later reference the difficulty of spending time away from his girlfriend. Hearing this song, and her shadowing of HONNE's inner cry, I understood the appointment of Jones as a supporting act. As I considered this, the room lit yellow in what I felt represented sunshine and joy, and stirred when she mentioned that the next song had been co-written with the evening's headline act, the song had much of what HONNE is about – the flow of words, the harnessing of sound, and it went down well with the crowd.

Next up was her cover of Calvin Harris' ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, which, although the original leaves me feeling upbeat, left me a bit confused. I liked and loathed it at the same time but appreciated how she had managed to make it her own – something I feel all covers should strive to achieve. Her final song of the night, ‘Hoops’, meanwhile, was fair in its delivery, demonstrating her ability to sing and control her voice. So I was disappointed, having enjoyed her set, when her exit wasn’t met with much applause. I understood, however, that by this point the majority of the Electric crowd’s excitement for the imminent arrival of HONNE was at breaking point.

Sure enough, when they made their entrance the room erupted. The sold-out crowd’s patience gave way in an uproar of chanting and bopping heads as the purple lights revealed two backing singers and then finally the band – James on the keyboard, and then Andy preparing himself to sing, before encouraging the audience to "sing along to the ‘keep me warm again' song". The ambience shifted on request as the room briefly erupted in a chorus of the song, the hard-core amongst us singing word for word. 

HONNE broke sweetly into each song, with timed introductions even allowing a small jamming for the instrumentals to take place after the first song. Andy, clearly a practiced performer, interacted with the crowd, asking, "how are you London?" before begging them to "sing along". And the crowd in turn were quick to follow the riff and repeat refrains like "in love" and "you are, you are, you are". (A reward for those who can pinpoint these lyrics to individual songs as I could only place them to the current eight-track album, Gone Are The Days.) I figured the swiftness of the set meant more could be slotted in, as everything seemed perfectly timed and songs weren't shortened or cut-off.

The volume dropped once more so that the lyrics of ‘The Night’ could be heard and sung along to. Whilst above, revolving glitter balls gave the auditorium a surreal shine, instilling the illusion, as HONNE performed, that the bustling dance-floor was popping and sparkling. Andy, amidst this spectacle, demonstrated his multi-instrumental talent, jamming on his guitar and jumping on the piano.

The repetition of lyrics pertaining to the same heartfelt message seemed poignant in their obsessive nature. ‘Will you be my baby, and, didn’t I give you everything?’ urged HONNE in one instance, capturing perfectly the pining of lines from a lonely heart that required answers as well as solutions. An ambience to which Jones fittingly rejoined the stage for a performance of ‘No Place Like Home’. Jones and Andy complemented each other well, her voice adding depth to the hollow tones of his, together effectively portraying the throb of the homesick.

‘Gone are the Days’ proved a thrilling swangsong, possessing a small but thunderous movement of body and soul as the crowd simply couldn’t contain their love any longer. Phones recorded and people clambered on shoulders and the entire room swayed in tune with the grand baring of soul and poignancy of message. This was an end which I felt embodied the entirety of their gig; HONNE provide a way into their psyche through their simplicity of lyric and sound. As a result I don’t feel like there’s much concerning the band that is difficult to parse; their music fairly represents two guys who, across distance and space, express how most of us would feel when missing home and the ones we love the most. This sincerity is even captured by their name which translates from Japanese as 'true feelings'. Having seen them live, I now understand why their North American tour has been completely sold out. There exists a very real connection between fan and artist, which I was lucky to experience.