Gig review: Daughter at Leeds Town Hall

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It would appear that Daughter are growing up under the audience’s maternal eye.

Seven months since the release of their debut album, If You Leave, and the London trio have reappraised much of their material. Where the record is soft focus music for bruised souls and shattered hearts, their live incarnation is a much gutsier proposition.

This intention is signalled by their live set-up, with the band being augmented by an additional guitarist / keyboard player and the stage flanked by blinding lights that wouldn’t look amiss at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gig. It’s a fitting development given that the pallid sadness of their folk-style arrangements have been given a more overtly gothic flavour.

Opening with ‘Still’, Igor Haefeli attacks his guitar with a violin bow and makes the kind of spidery lines that spun webs around Siouxsie And The Banshees. It’s a dark, reverb drenched onslaught under which Elena Tonra’s cathartic lyrics struggle to be heard. As the set progresses, however, the mix balances and on ‘Candles’ and set closer ‘Home’ she projects her vocals like a less histrionic Florence Welch.

There remain moments of gentleness, with ‘Shallows’ having a vulnerable quality that’s accentuated by the keyboard lines, while the influence of The xx remains, albeit in diminished form, on the sparse ‘Youth’. These inter-song dynamics afford more subtleties than their recorded output’s suffocating sorrow permits and sees them morph into a more commercially palatable offering than Esben And The Witch.

Their closing number, a stripped back version of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, also suggests that their distinctive style can embrace a sense of playfulness without losing its grandiose despair.

Gig date: October 24

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