Daughter – The Institute, Birmingham

It appears things have come full circle in a manner regarding my following of Daughter as I stand in Digbeth’s crowded Institute. I inadvertently saw the band perform on an autumn night back in 2011 supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich in the same historic venue they now find themselves selling out. Back then the operation was minimalistic as Elena and Igor stood exposed onstage with little more than guitar strings for protection yet Tonra’s vocal had the same arresting, bewitching quality all those years ago as it does tonight.

Beginning with ‘How’ there is a world of difference in production as lights flail wildly around the four man operation as the band indulge heavily in the alt-rock ambience of their new record. Birmingham are treated to a restructured setlist as the mournful opening bars of ‘Tomorrow’ ring around the venue to small pockets of ecstasy from the devout following as the group demonstrate an exceptional musicianship as a unit. The backing vocals and string provided by new addition Lucy compliment Elena’s quaint yet commanding role. Drummer Remi Aguilella is the padrone of the theatrical tonight upon his podium. He has otherworldly awareness of the manner in which to build and retract his percussion to maximise the moment where emotion grips you in a near choke hold.

The material featured on ‘Not To Disappear’ feels raw, unforgiving and visceral this evening as Elena spits venom during ‘No Care’ bathed in red light meanwhile ‘Numbers’ is a faultless recreation of one of Daughter’s career high points to date. ‘Doing The Right Thing’ delves further into devastation yet its instrumental opening bridge is one of the unit’s less harmonious moments and needs clear rehearsal although it is salvaged by Elena’s narrative which chills the large room further on a cold January evening.

The band clearly comprehends the weighty cult status of their debut as they dedicate a six track segment to its finest moments including the rousing ‘Human’, grounding ‘Shallows’ and anthemic ‘Youth’. Within this instalment it is ‘Smother’ that stands above its counterparts. Stage lights illuminate the quartet and Tonra details one of her most poetic musings with its overwhelming verse as she pleads to the darkness ‘i’m sorry if I smothered you’.

The manner in which Daughter compose themselves onstage and the engagement that they possess alludes to an impossible potential. This incredibly coordinated unit of musicians have taken fairly two dimensional indie folk tracks and turned them into glorious alternative rock masterpieces. A designed stage and lighting setup reminiscent of Sigur Ròs and Alt-J evoke visions of nighttime festival stages and it is known the only artists gifted the cover of darkness are the headliners, which seems to be a very achievable goal at this moment.

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