HONNE opened their first headline UK tour last night at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. Polly Riggs was there for us…

This was a new one for me: aside from a few cursory Spotify searches I knew little about Honne, and even less about support act D/C, so it was something of a blank canvas of opinion. Deaf Institute, with its scarlet curtains theatrically framing the stage and its deliciously kitsch wallpaper, married perfectly with Honne’s almost otherworldly mix of electo-soul.

At 8pm, D/C and his band took to the stage, the guitarist donning a fedora hat so large it almost needed an instrument of its own. D/C made the perfect support for Honne, pairing funk and soul genres with a modern twist that was irresistible to the crowd, who were soon packed in to the room (and even drawn away from the £2.50 pints at the bar!). His distinctive south London accent is evident in both his lyrics and vocals, and this fused with rolling electronic sounds made for a unique and interesting sound.

D/C is known on Twitter as @thatdckid, a point he was eager to compound when a member of the audience member called out ‘say it again?!’ His confident and charismatic manner only added to the performance, and by the end of their set the audience seemed quite smitten with D/C. One crowd member called out ‘well done!’, which had the potential to sound patronising, but D/C merely smiled and said ‘thanks’ rather sheepishly, adding to the warm and friendly vibe which continued throughout the evening.

In contrast, Honne seemed far more humble and willing to let their music do the talking, with Andy telling the audience ‘I’m not going to do any small talk, that’s just awkward isn’t it?’ The Japanese translation of the band name, ‘true feelings’, is perfect for their swelling soul sound, as Deaf Institute suddenly felt like it was 3am and couldn’t sleep.

The pairing of big, electronic-soul beats so popular in the current music scene (bands such as Jungle are a great example), and Andy’s soft and almost unclean vocals ensures that Honne’s music has a sort of seductive honey-covered drip to it. The crowd reflected this perfectly, swaying in a sort of warm appreciation. Biggest hits ‘Warm on a Cold Night’ and ‘Coastal Love’ were dealt with early on in the set, with Honne clearly keen to show that their album, expected to be released later this year, will live up to expectation.

They succeeded in captivating the crowd in a way which can be difficult for bands who cannot rely on a ‘wall of death’ to get the people moving. The nearest comparison is perhaps James Blake, as he too marries swelling music with a soft and tender vocal performance. Towards the end, though, I found my mind wandering, as the very nature of their music is serene and, perhaps, designed to keep you ‘warm on a cold night’.

Will we be seeing more of D/C and Honne? There’s no reason why not. Both contrast a modern mix of electronic soul/funk with timeless voices, though D/C’s London edge gives his music more of a George the Poet feel. Honne are signed by the same label that launched acts such as Bondax and Alunageorge, and clearly woo their fans with a flawless seduction, having already been forced by demand to add a new date to their New York show.

Expect great things from both of these acts in the not too distant future.

By: Polly Riggs

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