Review: Daughter @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire 29/10/2013

Daughter have grown on me considerably over the last two or three months. They are a slow-burn, much like their timid and steady growth since the release of If You Leave back in May. However, they are a band that once it clicks, once you get it, once you fall into the delicacy of the lyrics and simple intricacy of the music, you can’t help but fall head over heels in love. So naturally, when offered a ticket, how could I possibly say no?

Sadly I missed the first support act, but got there just in time to catch the second. Going by the stage name Torres, Mackenzie Scott’s sound is urgent, desperate and passionate, hard to listen to in moments when she as though she is pleading with an invisible being as if there is no one else in the room. Sadly she loses the crowd slightly towards the end, which is pretty unavoidable when you don’t have the glitz of a full band and lights supporting you. Stand out song was the opening Honey, and Jealousy And I.

Daughter come on stage and launch into Still which sounds as though it has been lifted directly off the album; every note and chord is spot on. Elena Tonra’s voice is perfectly suited for the venue; like the Empire, it’s elegant and classic, bouncing off the walls and cocooning the audience in a blanket of musical warmth. They sweep through Amsterdam, Landfill and the EP favourite Candles. The silence between each song is palpable, as though everyone is too scared to breathe or they will break the spell Daughter has cast over the venue.

Eventually guitarist Igor Haefeli says a few rushed words of gratitude, they’re stammered and awkward, it’s clear the band are much more comfortable performing than they are public speaking – although Haefeli does manage to slip in a joke just before Shallows; “This is a sad song, try to not be surprised.” When Elena eventually does greet the audience, the silence finally breaks in appreciation for the enigmatic front woman.

Human ramps up the energy if only for a moment, but obviously Youth elicits the biggest reaction from the crowd. Tracks like Youth work beautifully in this type of setting; one where everyone knows the words, and are perfectly happy to just stand and sing and soak it all in. Home elicited some of the first real movement from the band, Haefeli letting out his pent up, inner rock God during the songs final bridge before they leave for the encore, which concluded with a phenomenal performance of Daughter’s viral cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky which wound down the evening and leaves you feeling content and satisfied.

The problem with Daughter is that their formula does not really work in most other settings. Prior to the gig a friend mentioned she had seen them at a festival earlier in the year, and had been less than impressed by their performance. It feels obvious to me that a festival setting would not suit them; it needs to be intimate, the audience needs to be hushed and attentive, without these things the effectiveness of the show is lost.

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