Haven - Night & Day Cafe - 8.7.03

Haven gigs at the Night & Day Cafe have almost become a part of Manchester's folklore and tonight is no exception. Mani, Johnny Marr and assorted members of the Manchester music scene are omnipresent as are the few fans who have managed to get a ticket for this low key return. As your correspondent walks into the venue fans are being turned away by the dozen and yet as I walk in there's part of me that wishes I was one of them too - the heat is overbearing and the atmosphere suffocating to the point where it's hard to enjoy the night that's ahead of us.

Often mocked for their archetypal indie sound it's easy to forget that they're only the 3rd band to attract the attention of  Joe Moss (manager) who brought Johnny Marr in on production duties for the bands debut album "Between The Sense". The other bands were The Smiths in the 80s and Marion in the 90s who could have gone onto great things if it wasn't for the fact their singer Jamie fell into the pitfall of heroin addiction. After spending the last few months in the studio working on a second album with Manics producer Dave Eringa, who has been brought in to give the band a much more streamlined direction akin to their live shows, the band are heading out on a low key series of shows to promote the ltd edition single "Tell Me".

"Say Something", "Beautiful Thing" and "Let It Live" return to the fold like long lost friends, slightly beaten around the edges but still with the intricate attention to detail that we always loved. Frontman Gary Briggs now has the sunken cheek look of Brett Anderson and looks more like a rock god than ever while the rest of the band still possess that cocksure confidence. With a keyboard player drafted in to beef up the new songs you get the feeling the band have been listening to their detractors a little too much and on first listen they seem to have lost some of the magic they originally had. Where once Brigg's falsetto road over Nat Wason chiming melodies they now trade in huge chords and wall of sound production. It's not the Haven we used to know and love.

Alex McCann

Photo by Karen McBride - www.karenmcbride.com

What do you think of Haven's new rockier direction?
Post your Haven reviews / comments on the Message Board