Daughter – Leeds Town Hall

In the darkness of the impressive venue that is Leeds Town Hall, amidst the array of gold leaf and grandeur, Daughter quietly take to the stage as the audience eagerly applaud and wait to bathe in the shine of this jewel of a band. It’s a real mix of a crowd, groups of students, couples and even parents with their teenage children are seated, waiting for the haunting magic to begin.

It’s very rare that you find a band that can give you chills from the first note of a song, that can literally take your breath away like being dunked into an encompassing ice lake, but it happened on Tuesday 22nd when I saw Daughter live for the first time.  I had high expectations of the night and the band went above and beyond those expectations in what I can only describe as one of the most beautiful, moving and utterly emotive performances I have ever witnessed.

With a handful of EPs under their belt, the band released their debut album If You Leave to eager fans earlier in the year. It landed with such gentile fragility and yet powerful craft that audiences and critics alike demanded to witness the wrenching spectacle live. Now with a number of sold out shows they are touring the UK, performing a truly mesmerising, crystallising set. One thing that is abundantly clear from their set is the undeniable bond they share with their art, something to behold in this dismissive industry.

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Opening the silence with ‘Still’ Elena’s voice echoes through the room with Igor’s guitar slow and poignant.  The audience are immediately entranced. I can’t take my eyes off the stage. I don’t want to miss a note. ‘Still’ is slow to begin, quiet and sad reflecting a sombre nature in the performance, the pace then picking up as Elena sings of the challenges of a relationship, as though she is a troubled teen thrown on to the stage. The lights, blasting bright blue, shine behind her and mirror the emotion in Elena’s voice. I wanted to close my eyes and just listen but the lights paired with the music are hypnotic, I was drawn in, staring at the stage in awe, drinking it all up.

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Landfill saw Elena sing without accompaniment, “throw me in the landfill, don’t think about the consequences”. Her voice is the only sound in the whole room, it’s haunting and I’m doubtful that anyone in the audience escaped without goosebumps or the revival of melancholy moment. You can feel the pain in her voice, the lyrics heartbreakingly beautiful, “this is dangerous cause I want you so much but I hate your guts, I hate you.” delivered impeccably and entirely honestly.

Daughter went on to satisfy their clutch of ‘old guard’ fans with a hit from their first EP, His Young Heart, they play Candles, the gentle plucking of guitar strings is spine tingling, the drums measured yet powerful and Elena’s vocals strong and emotive throughout. They go on to play a mix of new tracks, recent single Human is fast and intense while Smother is slower, more controlled and suffocatingly powerful.

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The band chose to end their set with Home, a personal favourite. The riff is quick, almost rushed, with Elena’s desperate vocals added in, “Take me, take me, home, home,”  there is an urgent sense of longing for somewhere safe.  The track is full of peaks and troughs that dictate the pace but not the audience as they remain captivated, awestruck and trapped in a dramatic whirlwind of emotions.

Daughter briefly left the stage much to the dismay of their audience but returned for one more special addition to the set. Choosing to cover one of the most popular tracks of the summer is a gamble for anyone but for Daughter it’s a formality. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky is slowed down, Elena’s raw, faultless vocals softly sing “I’m up all night to the sun, he’s up all night to get some,”  effortlessly. It’s a completely different track to the one that has been played endlessly on the radio, but unique and strong like diamond and beautiful all the same. The perfect way to end to a flawless performance, Tuesday night was something truly special. 

 

Helen Kelly

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