The Conversations have just warmed up the room with their fierce nu-folk motifs and there’s a vigilant turnout awaiting rocking indie tunes from the subject of tonight’s launch celebration.
Swathed in the pink glow of the stage, sisters Jen and Kate Abineri command attention with effortless style. There’s a modest, slightly nervous air to the set kickoff which although unnecessary, does serve to make them even more endearing, especially given the kicking show they’re about to put on.
“This one’s for our father” says Kate, introducing Blame which opens proceedings with its raw acoustic riffs, and bold polemic focus. The bar is momentarily deserted as the band own the room and there’s barely a soul that isn’t starting to move along with them. The defiant, contagiously catchy nature of The Belle Havens’ tunes is something most of this gathering are abreast of and more than happy to be carried away with.
A quick guitar change sees Jen’s string break and while Kate muses that it’s Murphy’s Law, this little kink in the plan turns out to be an unexpected blessing for all of us in the audience. We’re treated to an impromptu jam from Kate, bassist Gav and drummer Dave who seem to just be making things up as they go. Kate sings a little ditty “you’re tryin’ to do somethin” and her usually deep voice is gloriously precipitous, showing off its enviable range as Gav dons a cheeky swagger to feed the playful vibe.
In no time, the interlude is over and the album hits continue to flow along with a few extras that haven’t made the full length release. Kate tells us that stalker anthem Spy Song was written by Gav “He’s the psychopath in the band” and that Astronauts (a clear favourite judging by the mouths in the room singing along) is about “escaping dismal Earth and going to another planet”. Hands sway earnestly for Narita before an insurgence against narcissism on public transport sees some emphatic cries of “you’re invading my space” during Quiet Please.
Victor and Vivienne summons a respectful hush over the crowd as the girl’s voices induce goosebumps with their harmonies. Kate is in the zone with her eyes closed and the usual swaying presence of Gav is respectfully still, save for it’s stealthy bass plays. Three tracks that actually aren’t featured on the album follow (Meteorites, Sun and Venus plus a song called Wow) yet most in the room seem to be already acquainted due to the band’s loyal live following.
With Mars everyone is moving and singing along and it feels like it could be the finale. We make enough noise at it’s closure that Kate deems us worthy of an encore and Bleed Me is the choice. Gav’s down in amongst the dancing crowd and it’s impossible not to get completely carried away with the warmth and vivacity in the room. Whilst it’s the end of a great gig, this is no doubt just the beginning of even bigger and better things to come for The Belle Havens.