Honne at The Academy, Dublin on 21st of November 2018
Today’s music is certainly open to a lot of criticism. There’s the surface-level lyricism, the squeaky clean production, the desire to add sleigh bells to everything (although the reign of tropical house does seem to be nearing its end.)
However, there should be an appreciation for the resurrection of smooth R&B pop that Honne is at least partly responsible for. Their music is an aesthetic at this point: Honne sounds like the moonlit walk home after a night of one too many in which you scored the person you fancy. Love is almost always the theme, with James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck conjuring the most intimate of atmospheres to match.
It’s hard to match that same vulnerable air when a crowd is as chatty as this. But no matter – a distinct neon glow still emirates off what they do. Andy is note perfect – though it must be acknowledged that none of Honne’s back catalogue require Mariah Carey-style ad libs. Another testament to how “of the time” Honne is – the production is so water tight, they can get away with some unimaginative vocal takes.
Though the pair share equal parts of the stage, they each come into their own at different times. Andy is an arresting presence singing Coastal Love, while James gets to lit rip on the guitar for Shrink from their new album ‘Love Me / Love Me Not’.
They run a tight ship, but they’re only as good as the parts that make them up. Namely their backing vocalist, who elevates several of the tracks on the night, particularly I Got You, which originally featured Nana Rogues.
“306 is quite a sexy song, but it’s actually about James’ car,” explains Andy, as the crowd lose it. Though they showcase the new album, there’s little deviation from previous sets and sections of the set can feel a little too safe and familiar at times. However, older tracks such as Someone That Loves You are the source of the night’s highlights.
Honne are very of the time, as previously mentioned – it’s the glossiest of background music, easy listening for millennials. It’s not terribly ground-breaking, but it’s also not terrible. With Honne, the only thing you can do is ride the wave.