Review by Bethany Walsh
It was easy to forgive the meek Elena Tonra for arriving 20 minutes late onto the stage at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on Monday night. The slightly unsettled crowd descend into an almost immediate silence as the sparse introduction of ‘Shallows’ is plucked into life. The black-clad Elena’s beautifully delicate vocals come in around a minute later, and from here the crowd find themselves whirling into Daughter’s musical depths. “Drown with me,” Elena purrs, as intertwining guitar lines from Igor Haefeli and the gradual building of drum patterns played by Remi Aguilella create a well layered and dramatic sound, without being overwhelming.
In an interview before their performance, the London based three-piece explain how their preference for church venues derives from both the atmospheric setting and the acoustics offered to them by such buildings. They believe that the natural reverb works well with their music, creating an enveloping sound. Tonight really showed how right these comments are. The Cathedral is simply enchanting, fitting perfectly with Daughter’s artistic aims and creating an acoustic dreaminess that few sound boards could authentically achieve. Igor’s use of a violin-bowing technique swept dramatically through the towering archways in ‘Candles’, and in ‘Smother’, Elena’s echoing vocals made for a haunting close to a lyrically harrowing song. Spotlights cast mesmeric patterns onto the walls during songs, hypnotising the crowd.
From the very beginning of Daughter’s set, the crowd were transfixed. There is a real air of honesty about their music, with a lot of lyrics written from Elena’s own experiences. She can be disconcertingly frank at times, with her prickly attitude towards love and loss permeating the debut album ‘If You Leave’. Take the refrain from ‘Landfill’ that simply declares “I want you so much/but I hate your guts”, as an example. But unlike some melodramatic accounts on such subjects made by other artists, these are songs that you can really believe; Elena herself has found it “comforting” that fans can relate to her lyrics.
Throughout the night there was a sense of unity; Daughter placed themselves almost on eye level with the crowd, creating intimacy within the vast surroundings of the Cathedral. “It’s like we’re in a cave,” smiles Igor, putting in words how the hundreds of people before him are feeling. Their endearingly awkward stage presence kept everybody smiling and at ease. This closeness is maintained for the duration of the set, much to the bashful appreciation of the band, professing that “this is the kind of gig we want to play every night.” It was Daughter’s first visit to Liverpool, and after the success of tonight it is highly unlikely to be their last.