Bow boys Honne seduced a pliable crowd at the Bodega on Monday night with their soulful vocals, tropical synths and light percussion on the penultimate night of their first headline UK tour.
This year Honne (which is a Japanese word meaning “true desire”) have gone from strength to strength, signing to Super Recordings (the same label that launched Bondax and AlunaGeorge), selling out shows in London and Paris and performing at festivals across the country. Their unique brand of urban, sensual and soulful lo-fi synth-pop has won them a growing number of fans, and the small but perfectly formed crowd they pulled to the Bodega on Monday night was testament to that.
The crowd was buzzing when Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatch of Honne took to the stage. They kicked off their set with the languid ‘Till The Evening’, before launching into two of their most popular singles ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ and ‘Loves The Jobs You Hate’. Andy’s beguilingly smooth voice had the unfinished edge of someone like Bon Iver, providing a nice contrast to the slick production of the tracks.
Honne are one of those rare acts that sound even better live than they do on their tracks. Songs and choruses that sound rather flat on record sounded incredibly full and atmospheric live – ‘The Night’ and their cover of the Darondo song ‘Didn’t I’ sounded exceptionally good. The texture was much fuller with the addition of a drummer, bass player and backing singer to their live band and brought something special to their sound.
Honne also used the night as an opportunity to showcase several new songs – ‘It Ain’t Wrong Loving You’ was a joyous burst of C major, whilst ‘Good Together’ was a more winsome, groove filled affair, with shades of ‘Loves The Jobs You Hate’. After a short break, Honne wrapped up their set with the catchy ‘All In The Value’, with James stepping away from the synths to deliver a killer guitar solo.
Honne are surprisingly quite seasoned so early on in their career trajectory, and hardly a foot was put wrong in their set. But when it seemed that they were too slick and too prepared, little incidents like unexpected sound checks between songs and Andy closing his eyes and dancing on the spot while singing reminded everyone that actually, Honne are quite new to all this and that this is their first headline UK tour. It was an exciting opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of the personality behind the music, and Honne didn’t disappoint.
On the whole, Honne delivered a stirring and brilliantly thoughtful set. With a debut album in the works, the future is looking bright for this duo.
By Betty Owoo