Haven : Cardiff Barfly

Haven[/url] are a band that make you type things like 'commendably epic guitar solo'.

They probably won’t be too thankful that we pointed this out, but this

writer recalls Haven when they slogged the Cornish gig circuit under the name Blew. They were worse than any band has a right to be, the sort of awful that stays imprinted upon your memory. Since wisely emigrating to Manchester and changing their name, they’ve ascended to an agreeable OK-ness, in a market where dozens are throwing the same credible epic-rock shapes. But is that really enough?

A strain of diehards down the front think so, leaping shirtlessly and

bellowing approval for songs which haven’t even been released yet. You want

some of that unchecked passion to rub off on the band themselves, frankly.

But photogenic frontman Gary Briggs is muted and unresponsive, and while tonight’s opener ‘Where’s The Love’ is bolstered by a commendably epic guitar solo, well,Haven are a band that make you type things like ‘commendably epic guitar solo’.

While their nebulous contemporaries –Starsailor andElbow for two – are potentially poised to break into the Big Music ionosphere,Haven have buffed their sound to a high and marketable sheen. And sometimes it fuels the hype

and jeers your preconceptions: check the climactic guitars of ‘Lying

Tongue’, or the way ‘Beautiful Thing’ rises from the ashes, this noise seeming genuinely impassioned suddenly.

And there is passion here, much of it channelled through Briggs’

exceptionally fine voice. It’s just thatHaven have trouble turning this into a cohesive personality. This leaves things like ‘Out Of Reach’high and dry and sounding like the Unbelievable Truth. No, really.

For the moment, Haven are less the definite article than studied archetypes,

the sort of band you could imagine featuring in a BBC2 comedy-drama.

Remember they’re around, but equally, don’t believe the hype.

Noel Gardner