Liverpool Cathedral is an outstanding feat of architecture. Designed by the then 21-year old Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the early 1900s, the structure took 74 years to build, and is the largest cathedral in the UK and the fifth largest in the world. This ought to give you an idea of the spectacle we were greeted with as we entered the enormous building.
The music venue hosting London’s DAUGHTER tonight is the nave of the cathedral. The first sensation you have on entering is a sense of peace and for once no excessive drinking – there is definitely something about spiritual space which discourages excess. The crowds gathered inside “the well” project their attention towards the stage, some looking upwards for long periods to absorb the magnificence and perfection of the building in which they find themselves. It’s such a vast and beautiful arena that you can’t help but let your gaze slip – the tranquillity is intoxicating.
Tracey Emin’s 2008 massive “For You” installation (pink-neon sign: “I Felt You and I knew You Loved Me”) towers above us as we settle into the show. It reminds us that this is a place of contemplation for experiencing life’s more serene moments. In terms of serenity meeting music, Daughter would seem to be an ideal band for such an occasion.
Beautiful sounds emanate from the stage as ethereal vocals, lilting guitar and thundering drums fill the huge space. Singer Elena Tonra is sedately poised, shy and unassuming, her hair loosely tied back – she’s absorbed in her craft, and certainly not oozing the attitude or charisma you would traditionally expect of a lead singer. A master of the forlorn look, to match the melancholy songs, she looks slightly surprised with every crowd applause: “There’s a lot of people here! Thank you for coming…” Sadly, because of the acoustics, she can’t hear all the crowd’s comments, but she appreciates the admiration and soldiers on through the set.
There’s something about the atmosphere that makes me want to wander round the building and absorb the band’s sounds from all angles. Behind the stage, we receive the brunt of the booming bass sounds, and it is here that we find prayer candles, the beautiful altar and the stunning organ (largest working pipe organ in Britain, no less). We are joined by a number of other gig-goers making their way to the makeshift bar who, immediately struck by the backdrop, take the opportunity to look around and soak up the ambience, some choosing to spend the rest of the night lying on the floor, staring towards the heavens.
On-duty Roger kindly informs us that the cathedral functions purely on community assistance, with no government subsidy whatsoever, and it becomes clear that events like tonight’s are critical to the functioning of the cathedral – there’s a lot of passion under this roof.
Daughter has the crowds mesmerized. By the time they get to the band’s signature song “Youth” from their recently released debut album “If You Leave,” the audience doesn’t want the night to end. Personally, there wasn’t enough pace or energy coming off the stage to engage my attention for an entire set, but I’m fairly sure that this is because the incredible power of the building was wholly distracting. I imagine this band would work better live in a more contained space where the acoustics are not drowning the vocals. But, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s a lot to ask for any live band to compete with such glorious surroundings, both acoustically and visually speaking. One way or another, this was a memorable night for all.