A Deco Records line-up is always one to marvel at in Manchester, I’ve found – from all-dayers to a Decodent (sorry…) display of punk prowess in just one thunderous evening, the event hosts offer a great variety of beloved local bands to behold. The Liars Club-headlined evening at the Castle Hotel (supported by SWINE and Chemtrails) was no exception to this rule – in fact, it was especially enjoyable, as it exposed me to the first support of the evening for the very first time. Enter DEH-YEY, a Chester two-piece headed by Cash Burns and Tom Maude, a power punk pairing turning any preconceptions of punk completely on their head. This is a band who know how to perform. It was a real, raw, often humorous live performance, complete with boxing shorts and free t-shirts aplenty. It’s perhaps a bit of an overused hyperbolic idiom to say that a gig “blew my mind”. But I write this as I wipe cerebral matter from my keys, so I think it’s likely an apt description. Brain-busting brilliance; no two ways about it.
Having listened to their recorded songs, in retrospect seeing them as a live act adds a whole new dimension to their sound. Take for example, ‘A Matter of Life and Likes’. DEH-YEY singles such as this benefit from excellent production, undoubtedly, and have an Idles-esque vibe in the contrast of hardcore guitar with clear enunciated vocals. They sound like a charting band befit of alternative radio and worship in the 6 Music circle. But seeing and hearing them before me, I swear I saw a different band. I saw something that really excited me. The recordings are great, but with them you miss out on the passion, the vivacity, the little quirks DEH-YEY bring to the stage. Burns’ vocals are far less polished live and it works. Amazingly well. Perhaps it is a personal preference to crave the DIY essence of punk records, but if you’d been there at the Castle that night, you’d have understood my sentiments exactly.
Cash Burns was a captivating confident presence that more than matched the energy of Maude’s pile driver percussion. Their interactions with both crowd and one another were genuine and likeable, as well as the addition of their Irish companion offering a hype-man of sorts. Flava Flav or Bez, but with better shirt aim. I found their aesthetic also completely lacking in any pretention. This was just two lads giving it their all, earnestly so, and not looking to impress anyone but merely to share their work with us. We as an audience were encouraged frequently to get involved, and even though I define the phrase ‘two left feet’, I found myself bobbing and bouncing as though out of compulsion. Most impressively the band had a slight hiccup at the beginning of a song, a hiccup which they acknowledged, endearingly apologised for with an utterance along the lines of “sorry, that was sh*t”, and swiftly began again. There is nothing more admirable to me from live performers than their ability to rectify mistakes and not at all let them impact their show negatively. If anything this showed how the band wanted to give the audience the experience they felt we deserved, and it was much appreciated. I like f*ck ups. I love f*ck ups. In honesty, I didn’t even know they had f*cked up, which should speak for how professional and they are.
I’m not sure who the management behind DEH-YEY are or even if they are just independent and handle their own affairs – but whoever is doing said role is doing an excellent job. Nothing about them is manufactured or engineered, and free rein of the boys creatively is essential to their continuing success because they’re both deeply talented. Personality pours from these two in every respect and it’s never more evident than when they’re sweating buckets and screaming vitirol of convention in front of you. Enter Shikari meets all of your favourite boxing flicks. Cannot fault it. DEH-YEY, you’ve found a fan in this gig-goer – I haven’t felt refreshed by live music in such a way in a long time. Keep up the bloody good work.