Sons and Daughters, Deaf Institute, Manchester – 30/06/11


At the current rate we’re going it will soon be part of the bog standard band format to have some sort of synth or sampler amongst the guitars, drums and basses. What began with the nu-ravers adding squelchy early 90s to their frantic hi-hats and new wave guitars has now casually expanded to take in seemingly every band in the indie-verse except for the deliberately lo-fi, the faux-folkie, and certain name-changing, throwback twonks with big mouths and not so big tunes. And yes, even Sons And Daughters, purveyors of gloomy, folk tinged indie these days have a small box stage right which produces booming and ominous sounds.

What’s perhaps most surprising is that it kind of suits them at times. The doom-laden, atmospheric bass rumble of ‘Silver Spell’ is possibly a brave choice of opening track, partly because it is one of the clutch of new songs they’re promoting tonight, partly because it is so different to what they’ve done before, and partly because there’s a danger that it might overshadow the rest of the set. Make no mistake, as it wobbles the wallpapered wall of the Deaf Institute and the internal organs of the audience, ‘Silver Spell’ is a moment of sheer brilliance. If James Blake or Jamie Woon had come out with it we would be up to our eyeballs in frothing broadsheet coverage. Put simply it was probably one of the live moments of year, Adele and Scott’s strident vocals filling the spaces between the ringing synth thuds.

After that it took a couple of songs to readjust for the rest of the show. The other new songs sound like traditional Sons And Daughters songs, and whilst some leapt out immediately – like ‘Breaking Fun’ – for the most part it was the older songs which got the audience going.

Sons And Daughters have often managed to capture the side of folk which gets neglected by the jangly yearning of Mumford And Sons or Noah And The Whale, the side where the songs are sinister and the lyrics regale us with tales of murder and darkness. ‘Dance Me In’ and ‘Gilt Complex’ cause the closest the evening comes to dancing from the audience who, though appreciative, aren’t the most energetic. On stage Adele seems to have more than her fair share of energy although Scott (who seems to have stolen a jacket from Patrick Wolf’s wardrobe) does steal plenty of the attention with his tense posturing, like a coiled spring wielding a guitar. It meant that at times with the new stuff the band were clearly enjoying themselves (apart from Ailidh who never shows any emotion) but the crowd were flat in the face of much of the new material.

It might just have been that the new songs needed time to sink in, the album having only just come out. Tellingly the biggest reception of the night, and the highlight along with ‘Silver Spell’, was for ‘Rama Lama’, an album track from The Repulsion Box which builds and builds, rewarding the listener with thunderous crescendos after the sinister verses echo around us. It’s delivered with gusto, Adele convincingly losing her shit as she banshee howls “Shake shake shake shake” at us. Heck, it’s good enough that two songs later an audience member yells for it again, backed up by a second voice insisting “It’s good enough to play twice”.

Sons And Daughters have always done best when they’re peddling pure darkness, and tonight was no exception. Perhaps a little more time with the album will give their audience an in into this dark world, but unfortunately they didn’t quite want to dive in fully just yet.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.