Review: Daughter live at Columbiahalle

Daughter played last night in Columbiahalle. Sold out weeks before, the gig was always going to be something special.

The band have said that they came up gradually, progressing over a few years from playing to 100 people to playing to 1500 people, and it was the perfect organic path to success, with all the coolest music geeks talking about them first, infiltrating the landscape music nerd by music nerd, and then suddenly everyone you talked to started listing Daughter as one of their top two or three bands.

Even then she had something that made everyone stop what they were doing

I found them on Soundcloud and fell in love too. They had just the right amount of all the right elements – Elena Tonra’s fragile, dreamy yet razor sharp vocals; Arcade Fire-esque walls of swirling guitar, and tastefully handled beats.

Guitarist Igor Haefeli found Elena Tonra singing songs in bars with her acoustic guitar, but even then she had something that made everyone stop what they were doing and pay attention. They got together and put songs together in his bedsit, and that’s still what they were doing when they recorded their debut album with Communion, an artists’ collective. Pushing insistently into the communal consciousness, they eventually got signed to 4AD and started touring the US, Europe, Australia – and everywhere they found fans waiting for them.

When they finally launched into Youth a huge roar went up

Daughter in Columbiahalle was a hot ticket, I had to chew someone’s leg off to get a reviewer pass. They came on and began without much ado, letting the music mainly speak for them, and worked through a few songs before they took a break to say hallo and chat to the crowd a little…I still thought that Elena didn’t chat much to the audience between the songs, until she explained that she was actually extremely sick. Guitarist Igor Haefeli did the between-song chat for the band but didn’t go into any eulogies. When they finally launched into Youth a huge roar went up and everyone was happy.

I had some reservations – I would have preferred her voice purer and less effectified; that very special fragility which they possess is unavoidably difficult to bring over in a live hall situation. But it was a great gig and everyone went home happy.

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a 'recovering musician', he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

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