Chasing Deer may be one of the hardest working bands in Britain today, and, through the virtue of their celebrated street performances, have brought to light all that is captivating about music and what it means to bring people together. ‘Hands On‘ is not merely the title of their forthcoming album (released 30th November), it embodies an admirable trait to fervently forge their own audience and bring it together through innovative inspiration.
In a campaign supported by both the British Deaf Association and Sign Health, they have released a single every month this year – each cover showing sign language gestures from a wide array of cultures and backgrounds. Whether shown by a 4 year old mega fan, a 90 year old grandparent, hands of black, white, or Indian heritage, tattooed hands, or hands bearing bridal henna markings – these distinctions are superficial in the context of their humanity, and each portray a message without the use of voice or sound.
The event at Bush Hall on 22nd November was billed as an album launch, but perhaps moreover, it was a spectacle of embracing the deaf community in the music scene at a level which is unprecedented for an unsigned band. As a deaf person arriving on the night, they were welcomed to the venue using sign language, were able to order a drink at the bar through an interpreter, buy merchandise, and follow the concert in it’s entirety – including the support acts. Balloons were also distributed to audience members as bass levels were modified to resonate the sound waves for them to be experienced more clearly.
In the stunning surroundings of Bush Hall, the night unfolded without a hitch. Watching the support acts – the eloquent and well sung singer/songwriter Lucy May Walker and heartfelt and moving pianist Albert Man, from afar, it was clear as crystal the effect the night was having.
One of the inescapable standout performances of the evening was from the sign language interpreters themselves – emotively translating with each gesture, they really put their heart into it.
By the time Chasing Deer arrived on stage, the packed out crowd were becoming feverish. Donning his iconic keytar, and accompanied by a guest bassist for the night, Rob Hodkinson led the charge as the crowd were treated to a full rendition of the forthcoming coming record track-by-track. With the addition of the interpreter, it was an interesting dynamic and a treat for the eyes when coupled with the balloons being held aloft by the crowd in full joy and appreciation.
The standout moment of the night was without doubt the rendition of latest video ‘Placebo‘ (precursored by a drum solo from Adam Biddlecombe, no less). Apart from a well-savoured guitar solo from Peter Hyams, all showmanship aside, when Rob leapt down from the stage to serenade his way through the audience, there was a genuine feeling of inclusion, which the night was intended to personify.
The trio have formulated themselves into energetic ambassadors for UK music as a whole. With approximately 50,000 people using British Sign Language as their first or preferred language in the UK alone, inventive action such as this should encourage people to bring their hands together and applaud these efforts accordingly.
The album ‘Hands On’ is released on 30th November on Vinyl, CD/ and Streaming.