Haven - The Mill (Preston) - 3.4.04

As part of their week long acoustic tour Haven are tonight at the Mill in Preston. Considering the catastrophe's the band have endured in the last eighteen months it's nothing short of a miracle. The recording of their new album "All For A Reason" was postponed while guitarist Nat Wilson received treatment for Bells Palsy (a stress induced illness). On top of this health scare, Haven's American tour was plagued with chaos. As well as bizarre parties and homicidal bouncers their bass player Iwan Gronow needed emergency dental surgery which was imperative as his impacting wisdom tooth would have shattered otherwise.

Arriving sheepishly on stage the casually dressed quartet begin this no frills gig in a low key fashion. Essentially this is an opportunity to showcase the new album in an intimate environment. Vocalist Gary Briggs seems a little disorientated, but he soon gets into his stride. His voice sounds fragile and struggles to be heard over the band. "Till The End" has the flavour of Marr's masterclass guitar strokes from Mr Wilson and is a gentle opening to the gig. The sounds a bit muffled, but that's sorted in no time. The first single off the album "Wouldn't Change A Thing" sees Haven go all electric on this slice of catchy guitar rock. "Is This Bliss" from their incredible debut is rather special, but is spoilt by the crowds incessant chattering. "Something Moved Me" has the jingle jangly indie trademark of early James, the title track "All For A Reason" is a little folky but in a jubilant way. When Haven leave the stage the fans demand more and the band comply with a couple of crowd pleasing song which go down like the proverbial treat.

Haven write effortlessly timeless songs, but with the influx of so many guitar groups around at the moment fail to stand out of the crowd as they so mind numbingly ordinary, polite and well mannered. Maybe tonight they feel restricted from the acoustic format. Although there are some exciting extended guitar solo spots and occasional displays of showmanship, I felt like Haven were just going through the motions.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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