Live review: HONNE @ SWX Bristol, 22/11/2018
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Describing their Bristol show as a “sort of homecoming”, the now-London based electronic duo,
HONNE, were showered with adoration and good vibes. The audience immersed themselves in HONNE’s effortlessly cool performance; dancing to the duo’s music before they even came on stage.
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HONNE Clutterback and Hatcher began their performance with ‘Forget Me Not’. The track’s low murmuring “She loves me / She loves me not” was fortified by a fitting backdrop of the cover photo of their newest album, Love Me/Love Me Not, which retained its elusive presence throughout the performance; only revealing itself through lighting that was in conjunction with dirty bass beats. The impressive on-stage, bass-soaked electronic production of ‘Forget Me Not’ reverberated through the audience’s unified body, setting a precedence for HONNE’s effortless, slow-grooving rhythms and shadowy, lustful lyrics.
Although ‘Forget Me Not’ best encapsulated late-night drive aesthetics, HONNE allowed themselves to be seen in a livelier, playful light throughout the gig. The stark contrast of the next track, ‘Me&You’ allowed the duo to transform the room’s energy instantaneously – it was one of the best received songs of the night, with everyone singing along to its infectious melodies. Clutterback truly came into his own but the absence of Tom Misch was easily forgotten. HONNE seemed genuinely elated facing a wave of bodies singing their lyrics and riffs back to them. As they extended the track, Clutterback sang along with the crowd, truly revelling in the moment.
Clutterback’s candid vocals, since they are received so differently on the album, often tainted with electronic production. The glossy performance of ‘Location Unknown’ and its undeniably catchy chorus, “got to get back to you, gotta gotta get back to you” was again greatly received; the duo reflected the crowd’s collective energy and feel-good dancing.
HONNE reiterated throughout the gig that they write a lot of romantic music, yet ‘306’ was comedically introduced as an ode to a car, in which the duo “spent South London nights listening to Kendrick Lamar way too much”. The use of Clutterback’s vocal distortion for the track helped the song to embody its lyrics, “fuck it let’s go have some fun”. Slow-jam ‘Sometimes’ used similarly effective vocal distortion to bolster intrinsically reflective lyrics, and a full-bodied, starry, synth-soaked instrumental.
Arguably, the best moments of the gig were when backing singer BEKA joined the duo centre-stage. She features on Love me/Love Me Not in ‘Crying Over You’, which Clutterback said wouldn’t have come into being without her. The emotional electro-ballad was truly lifted with her angelic, soul-oozing vocals. She was justly comfortable on the stage’s frontline. BEKA also featured in the performance of ‘Someone That Loves You’, that originally features Izzy Bizu on Warm On A Cold Night. Once again, the crowd loved BEKA’s quietly self-assured performance as she easily glided up to the high notes.
During the penultimate performance of the single ‘Woman’, the crowd were prompted by a waving flash light beaming from the stage. The contrastingly stripped slow-groover infused the room with sensual late night love: “I thought I should tell you how loved you are”. HONNE’s final track, ‘Day 1’ was introduced as a love-letter for “those who had been there from the beginning”. Clutterback wanted to make sure everyone had their arms around someone, even turning on the lights to particularly encourage those who had come on their own. ‘Day 1’s perky, staccato keyboards re-established the band’s energy, and was a thoughtful ending to the performance.
HONNE highlighted their versatility and talent across a plethora of different styles – from heavy bass production to keyboard ballads and funky guitar riffs. BEKA was an outstanding addition, and the crowd left feeling as though they had played an active part in HONNE's heartfelt homecoming.
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