Daughter delivered a majestic performance to a sold out Brixton Academy on 27 October on the last leg of their UK tour, which was supported by the release of new single, ‘The End’. FMS were there to enjoy a real statement moment for the three piece.
Three years had passed from Daughter’s debut album, If You Leave, to the release of follow up, Not To Disappear, in late 2015. The show in London was the last UK stop of the tour, and their biggest UK gig to date, before heading to the US and Canada for a month long run of dates. Framed in the arch of the grand stage with simple cloth drapes capturing a suitably understated lights show, the band emerged to a rapturous reception. There is a purity to their sound, framing the sadness of lead singer Elena Tonra’s lyrics, enhanced by the setting and the sea of dry ice in which they basked throughout the show.
Tonra seemed shocked by the scale of what was before them, often nervously laughing through her interludes. Her demeanour was so genuine, endearing and passionate that it is no wonder they have built such a fervent support base. Their sound may not be one you would associate with a venue of the size of Brixton Academy but with guitarist, Igor Haefeli, and drummer, Remi Aguilella, supported by brass and percussion sections, their sound comfortably filled the space without ever abandoning the subtlety of their recorded work. There was also a great structure and flow to the show, simple but effective, pulling the listener through an emotional journey. This journey was courteously entered into by the crowd, absorbing almost every moment and pulled along by the strength of performance.
The setlist was on the whole well paced, building the tension from the opening track, ‘New Ways’, which also opens Not To Disappear, an atmospheric track packed with yearning and tangiable emotional pain. Momentum built through ‘Numbers’ to the thunderous one-two of ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Winter’, both enjoying the musical support provided from the brass and percussion sections. These additional musicians did not seem like a luxury or the success of filling Brixton Academy going to the band’s head. Instead they perfectly complemented and enhanced the tracks, taking them to new places, evolving the sound captured on record rather than changing it wholesale.
‘Alone/With You’ followed, exploring the isolation, self criticism and dissatisfaction Tonra, and so many others, suffers from with its memorable refrain of “Talking to myself is boring conversation.” This song best captures the spirit of their latest album, which is described as a study of loneliness and the many different ways to feel alone. These remorseful reflections did, however, later give way to the defiance of ‘To Belong’ and apathy of ‘No Care’, further reflections of the power of Tonra’s writing and the evolution from the debut record.
There were stages of the show were it began to suffer a lull. This is not to say that the musicianship dropped but much like their albums, Daughter have mastered a sound and aesthetic so fully it can, across the course of an album or show, become a little single minded and overwhelming. However, this phase was relatively brief and quickly snapped by crowd favourite and standout, ‘Youth’. This is the track the band are best known for, and quite rightly enjoyed the biggest reaction of the night. Here the supporting cast truly brought the track to life, propulsive, cathartic and anthemic.
Throughout the night, the band used silence and space cleverly alongside rich musical compositions, often constructed layer by layer and broken back down with equal ease. Their music pulls together elements of folk, indie and pop, as well as broader influences such as trip hop, particularly on encore number ‘Medicine’ from The Wild Youth EP. There are strong similarities to contemporaries such as London Grammar and Seafret, showing the strength of this growing British sub-culture of emotionally intelligent music with an ability to capture the spirits of the everyman across glorious soundscapes. The result of this mixture in Brixton was at times a quasi-religious experience, a shared emotional outpouring, all taking solace and strength together.
‘The End’ was recorded in sessions with Nicolas Vernhes (Not To Dissappear) in 2015 and its release celebrates a fantastic 12 months for the band.
Not To Dissappear and ‘The End’ are out now on 4AD/Glassnote.
Words : William Sutton
Photo : Francesca Allen