On a cold, wintery evening, a select few trudged through the snow to St. Philip’s Church in Salford, to take their pews in the frightfully shivery, but equally beautiful surroundings of the 19th Century, Greek style sanctuary. We were there to see one of the most talked about upcoming bands of 2012, and a trio that are set for wonderful things throughout and beyond 2013.
Led by the angelic voice of Elena Tonra, Daughter have developed from solo, heart-breaking goth-folk, to a more defined, ambient and textured sound, thanks to the addition of guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella. That’s not to say that the lyrics have become any more jolly; but the dark, poetic, grief-laden words of Elena make this style of music pretty perfect. Much like how the powerful sounds of Joy Division’s Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris in some ways sugar-coated the angst and pain of Curtis’ emotions…although in this case, Elena seems a lot less bleak in person, in fact, very lovely!
Support came from Icelandic singer-songwriter Lay Low. Her set was charming and fragile, much like her on-stage presence and sweet-voiced interactions with the crowd. However, despite some moments of beauty, particularly when singing two tracks in her native tongue, and one wonderful looped performance, there was little to write home about. Nonetheless, the setting may not have been a little daunting and perhaps a little overbearing for such a quiet voice, so I shouldn’t be too critical.
The church slowly filled to maximum capacity in the half hour break between acts, yet the all-seated room did make us feel particularly lucky to have snapped up tickets for this very much sought-after, intimate show.
The three members of Daughter then took to the stage, Elena and Igor at the front, with Remi not far behind on drums and occasionally, bass and keys. Playing tracks that stretched from the beginning of Elena’s original solo-project, all the way to new songs from their recently-announced debut album, If You Leave, they left the audience stunned throughout. Although the highly-recognisable Youth predictably received the loudest cheer of the evening, it was performances of Love, Landfill and Smother that stole the show for me. Starting soft and fragile, but growing bigger by the minute, with the drums representing the heart-beat of both the song and songwriter, building with emotion and pumping through highs and lows of unbelievable sound. Moreover, final track Home was the greatest example of this, with the three of them throwing themselves into a wonderful, jaw-dropping crescendo, which literally gave the stain-glass windows of the church a good shaking, before they left the stage to rapturous applause.
It had certainly been a stunning performance, and it was clear that each and every member of the audience left knowing that they had just witnessed something very special. Elena’s soft and haunting vocals, the atmospheric and sensationally timed drums and theatrical guitars, and the pure and painfully honest lyrics, all within a beautiful setting, made it just that…very special indeed.