Review + Photos: Daughter and Pixx @ Albert Hall – Manchester

Manchester’s Albert Hall is the perfect setting for Daughter’s luscious soundscapes and broody, introspection. Despite boasting a capacity of 2000, the venue still manages to retain a satisfying degree of intimacy and this attribute certainly contributes to another memorable evening in the city’s premium performance space.

Label mate Pixx kick off proceedings this evening in a suitably dramatic and atmospheric manner. Big things are expected of Chipstead local Hannah Rodgers and despite initially fighting the general indifference of a noisy crowd, she does manage to win them over with her final two tracks of the evening. These songs in particular demonstrate the nineteen year old’s potential, possessing distinctive vocals that float effortlessly amongst engaging yet unpredictable rhythms. The increased tempo of these songs provides balance and the audience fall in line, allowing Hannah’s subtle brand of ethereal pop music to flow through them.

Despite consisting of three different nationalities, Daughter are very much a British band in character. Lead singer Elena Tonra’s songs are truthful and full of emotion yet appear to be presented by an artist who is simply grateful for the opportunity to share her feelings in such an intimate manner. The softly spoken Londoner oozes charm and grace throughout the evening, although the diverse set does much of the talking. The opening three tracks of the evening (How, Tomorrow and Numbers) establish the darkly hypnotic undertones that are to develop throughout the show. With haunting themes of love, loss and emptiness explored already, it seems incredible that the show is enjoyable at all, but that is the allure of this band; the presentation of these subjects is so exquisite at times it hurts!

Amsterdam is angrier and swathes of red light flood the stage enhancing the tone, complimented by the more provocative guitar of Igor Haefeli. Human provides a change of pace and it becomes apparent how substantial Remi Aguilella’s contribution on drums is to the whole experience. Subtle yet imaginative, he is responsible for establishing the portentousness of Doing the Right Thing which is cinematic in presentation and resembles a Nicolas Winding Refn movie in the way pace and tone shift chameleon-like as we head towards its uncertain conclusion. The epic Shallows follows and presents a cleaner arrangement, complimented by sultry vocals, mining deep emotional depths.

These shifts in tone and pace are clearly not occurring by accident and the setlist has been carefully curated so that the luscious, fragile arrangements of songs such as Smother are contained beside more erratic, bloody moments that emerge during Home and No Care, when harsh strobes scythe through the audience aggressively. All of this contributes to the sweeping, engrossing and all-consuming effect of Daughter and their songs. The audience are respectful throughout; the baleful nature of the songs is never going to inspire a raucous response but the evening seems to be building towards one particular moment and when it comes the audience deliver. As the fragile introduction of Youth emerges from the ashes of the evocative and spectacular New Ways a hush descends upon the room. Elena’s sumptuous vocals swirl amongst us, entwining perfectly with the audience who softly breathe the lyrics back to her. It’s a wonderfully tender moment, received ever so gracefully by a bashful Elena who seems genuinely surprised at the positive response to her personal brand of melancholia.

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Review and Photos by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto

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