Who: The Daughters of Davis
Where: Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
When: 18th February 2015
Being piggy-in-the-middle on a three act bill is never an enviable task but when even the opening act is allowed access to the higher ranges on the volume sliders of the mixing desk that you’re not and the top act’s target audience is very different from your own then it’s somewhat more problematic.
But having said that Daughters of Davis blew everyone else off stage when it came to artistic integrity and provided a great set for an audience who entered not really caring who they were and exited won over in some numbers.
However, whether this night will turn into cd sales or attendance at other Daughters of Davis gigs is debatable as this crowd seemed to be bent on nostalgia and talent show novelty than investigating new creative songwriters.
Less said about the opening act the better, it seems. No real guitar playing style, mannered vocals and songwriting which came straight out of a rhyming dictionary. Names omitted to protect the guilty.
Then came the act whose name is at the head of this review. Playing a show to an audience who is unfamiliar with your music is never easy but this didn’t particularly unnerve the two sisters who stuck rigidly to their folksy chat between songs and played a set which leaned heavily on their second album “British Soul”.
Song choices are always interesting and including a cover of Mr. Jackson’s “Billie Jean” early in the set was an interesting one. On one hand you have an audience who are here to hear covers but on the other you are omitting a song from your own stable to make room for it. Either way, Fern Davis gives a joyful and exuberant stab at the vocal and it is self-evident that these are two ladies who love their music – both their influences and their own.
“British Soul”, the title track from their new album, is a highlight, with their customised Motown handclap and “The Trade” also stands out well.
Adrienne has a rousing edge to her guitar playing and outstanding vocals, Fern seated on her Cajon adds a fervent edge to their music and as the set moves along the intensity of what they play and say deepens.
Current single, “Footprints”, brings a tear to a few eyes as Adrienne Davis explains how its lyrical origins are tied to her experience of depression. It is good to hear open-hearted expressions of spirituality in music in this way – it sounds anything but hackneyed.
Things draw to a close with “Take My Soul”, another lively-but-thoughtful piece about the need for personal renewal. Good stuff and cooked-to-perfection.
The duo leave the stage to encouraging applause- I’ve heard support bands fare much worse.
Top of the bill? Well, I’m not here to review that but it is a strange world where an act’s management allows an announcement about the singer being dropped by their label to leak out in the middle of a tour. Strong vocals but this kind of covers act belongs to another time, another place or at least I had thought so. It is not the world I inhabit and it was a strange place to visit even to catch up with the middle-of-the bill bright acoustic good things who seem to be one of UK pop music’s brightest hopes.