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Live Review: Ben Howard at London Shepherds Bush Empire – 23rd February 2012

By on Tuesday, 6th March 2012 at 2:00 pm

It’s 10:45 on a Thursday night in West London, and one man stands triumphantly with his band on stage in front of the first of two 2,000 sellout crowds. His 11-track set stands up amongst the very best, and he’s only one album in. The man in question? Mr. Ben Howard.

Before him came the endearing Daughter. With an EP and selection of tracks to date, they’re enjoyable and bring a lovely atmosphere to Shepherds Bush, but everyone’s waiting for tonight’s main event.

With his debut album ‘Every Kingdom’ fast approaching its 6 month anniversary of release, Ben Howard starts the night with something new. You could say he’s keeping it fresh, I think it’s more a gentle warm-up. Resting his guitar horizontally on his lap, opener ‘Depth’ doesn’t stray far from current material, but it’s warm and enjoyable, drawing tonight’s audience in. ‘Oats in the Water’ adds electricity to the mix, but only a little. The slow build adds more anticipation before the routine kicks in with ‘Only Love’. Tonight, in mid-February, it becomes late spring as track after track ushers out the cold and beckons in a non-existent heat wave.

As strong as ‘Every Kingdom’ is, you can’t help but notice one or two lulls in the night. ‘Everything’ isn’t as strong as it could be and even ‘Black Flies’, which features Daughter’s Elena Tonra seems to last longer than required. It’s a great song and performed beautifully by both artists, but extending it seems a slight waste of talent and time. Just as you feel yourself tiring however, comes a barrage of bona fide new summer classics. ‘The Wolves’ brings sing-alongs and borderline shout-alongs as Ben engages in a bit of crowd participation. He’s been relatively polite and those assembled have been more than willing to sing through the night, but nothing’s been as loud as “Love love love!” has, aside from one or two declarations of love between tracks, each met by Howard’s humble gratitude and approachable chipper.

‘Keep Your Head Up’ closes the main set to huge cheers, only for Howard to rejoin the stage on his own and play an even more stripped down version of ‘Promise’, bringing near silence from a crowd in reciprocated awe at tonight’s spectacle. At times, Howard’s looked genuinely surprised at how well everything’s going and standing ovations further this as he closes the evening with ‘The Fear’.

It’s been a sudden and exponential rise to these heights for Howard. And at this rate, it doesn’t look like there’s any stopping him. With a few new tracks, he’ll be toppling the highest in his genre (please move over Mumford) in no time, and rightly so.


Bands to Watch #236: Daughter

By on Wednesday, 1st February 2012 at 12:00 pm

After some singing practise and the assessment of a friend who used to be a vocal teacher, I’ve discovered that my voice is a lot sweeter than I expected or wanted it to be. I want to sound like a rock star. This, however, is not Elena Tonra’s problem and to our benefit, she is utilising her gorgeous, sweet voice in Daughter, a three-piece including Tonra’s electric guitarist boyfriend Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella.

Last year the band released 2 EPs. First out of the gate was ‘His Young Heart’ in the spring of 2011, which spawned BBC 6music playlisted track ‘Landfill’. You have not witnessed the truly beauteous side of heartbreak until you’ve heard this song, which encapsulates the sad coming to terms with the end of a relationship. Of course despair has been covered in music before…but this is abject pathos, put to a melody. It’s not until you reach the chorus that you get the whole story:

Well, this is tortuous
The electricity between the both of us
And this is dangerous
‘cause I love you so much
But I hate your guts
I want so much
But I hate your guts, I hate you…

What can hurt more than being around the person you once loved while realising the hold he has on you, that your fire for him still burns brightly, yet the current conditions force you to ignore your feelings? The genius of Daughter is taking a universal emotion – the pain of a broken love and the subsequent desperation to have what you once had – and giving it a fragile yet stunning honesty. Listen to and download the song below.

Following on the strength of ‘His Young Heart’, the band wowed festival audiences and then set about recording their next EP, ‘The Wild Youth’. This release was through Communion Records, the label that brought us Pete Roe and Nathaniel Rateliff. While ‘Landfill’ was pretty in its sparseness, ‘Love’ (free stream and download below; live performance on this previous Live Gig Video feature) and the other tracks on ‘The Wild Youth’ are more complex, leading to comparisons to Bjork and Jonsi. Being compared to those legendary artists is a great honour, but will Daughter be able to continue their momentum into 2012? The reception of their appearance at South by Southwest this March should be a good litmus test.


Live Gig Video: Daughter play ‘Love’ at St Giles in the Fields Church

By on Thursday, 15th December 2011 at 2:00 pm

Daughter (live as the three-piece of Elena Tonra, Igor Hafeli and Remi Aguilella) was a happy discovery for me in the later months of 2011. Tonra has more emotion in her left pinky nail than most other female singer/songwriters out there today. (And yes, I’m including this one as one of the many in the pile that leave me cold.) Watch Daughter’s real talent in a live setting, performing the closing track of ‘The Wild Youth’ EP, ‘Love’, in the gorgeous confines of St. Giles in the Fields Church in London’s West End.



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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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