Live: Daughter @ Portsmouth Pyramids.
Daughter at Southsea Pyramids
Back in the 1990s, the shoegazing brand of indie rock was all the rage. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush and the Cocteau Twins were masters of ethereal vocals, mixed with swirly guitar and big soundscapes. Even though I wasn’t one of the angst ridden students that it often identified with, I was a fan of the whole movement and lamented its passing.
Thankfully there’s hope on the horizon with Daughter and their new album Not To Disappear. Whilst fans of their melancholic first album will have plenty to keep them happy, this album has a much fuller sound to it and in a live performance, Daughter do floaty guitars and ambient soundscapes exceedingly well.
The first thing that strikes you is the low-key entrance from the band, with lead singer Elena Tonra almost apologetic for interrupting the crowds drinking time. However, that low-key entrance is soon put to bed with the opening track How from the new album. Crashing opening chords from guitarist Igor Haefeli and a wall of lights before they move into the restrained quiet and lamenting lyrics of lost love, the track is a great example of the warm sound of the new album, but maintaining the stripped back feel of a lone voice in the dark. This theme is continued into the next track Tomorrow, from 2013s If You Leave album and reaches its peak in the bleak but beautiful new track Numbers, which has a distinct Editors-esque feel about it.
Pausing for some banter with the crowd, there’s another good example of the broadening of their musical style on No Care. This has a driving urgent beat reminiscent of Bloc Party and which keeps drummer Remi Aguilella extremely active, and also on the excellent Alone/With You which is possibly my favourite track from the new album. It’s a quirky track with a chirpy, insistent backbeat, reminiscent of Sigur Ros, but definitely with its own style.
But throughout all of the music, the one thing that’s unusual about Daughter is their ability to use silence to great effect. “Less is more” is a hackneyed phrase, and it’s difficult to explain in respect of a live concert, but the times when very little was being played or sung were extremely powerful and added to the emotional pull of the band. There was a respectful hush throughout the evening that was really quite unusual to experience and added to the whole ambience of the performance.
That wasn’t to say the crowd weren’t enthusiastic. Despite its tragic theme of the isolation and loss of self created by Alzheimer’s disease, Doing The Right Thing got a great reception, although the biggest cheer was reserved for Youth, from their original Wild Youth EP of 2011.
With its chorus line of “if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones” this is pretty bleak stuff, but it’s a perfect demonstration of how Daughter mix beautiful melodies, with lyrics that try to rip your heart out. If you’ve listened to any of their tracks, you know what you’re going to get with Daughter, but on the strength of tonight’s performance and the wider canvas of the new album, I have a feeling the band is going to grow and grow. And shoegazing might be back!
The full set here: Daughter Concert Photography
Andy has his own great website here: www.soundritualphotos.co.uk