Live Review: Sons and Daughters at Leeds Cockpit – 21st October 2011

By on Tuesday, 1st November 2011 at 2:00 pm

Sons and Daughters are an offshoot of the mid-’90s Glaswegian resurgence: founding members Adele Bethel and David Gow met whilst working with Arab Strap before venturing off by themselves. Rather quiet since their last record in 2008, this year sees the release of their fourth album, ‘Mirror Mirror’, and a consequent tour.

Tonight’s gig is at Leeds Cockpit, one of the most basic venues in the country; the interior resembles a World War II air raid shelter, and the toilets don’t have any doors. Apparently they don’t have much in the way of lighting either: tonight the band is less seen than heard. What can be discerned is guitarist Scott Paterson’s enormous fake fur and Bethel’s enthusiastic bounding around the stage. Several times the band ask for requests from the audience; it’s unclear whether they really are taking notice of the responses, but as this is something of a reunion gig, older material is just as evident as songs from the latest record.

The main problem tonight is that despite sounding sparse and Gothic on record, live they have a much more straight-ahead rock sound; it’s apable but not as special. The line-up of electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals can very easily sound noisy, loud and plain rather than atmospheric, and despite an anonymous chap lurking at the back of the stage who may be providing a bit more guitar, the live arrangements could do with more variety to captivate. Several fans tonight would disagree however; this is a long-awaited return for dedicated followers, and they reciprocate the band’s efforts with enthusiastic bopping and whooping.

It may be the high praise which ex-collaborators Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells’ latest project has received, or the Mercury nomination of the particularly Scottish King Creosote and Jon Hopkins record, that has given the band the push they need to get recording and gigging again, in the hope that the resurgent interest in artists from their region will rub off on them. Their sound is considerably different to those records, but the basic DNA is similar, so there may be virtue in that strategy. However this show comes across as something for aficionados only, as evidenced by the modest crowd, and the band appear a little rusty and going through the motions somewhat. With any luck, a decent round of festivals next summer should get them back into shape, and we’ll see what Sons and Daughters are really capable of.

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