Sœur @ The Ferret

I’ve written about Sœur on this blog a few times before (you can see my attempt to describe their sound in this review from April). They’re one of my absolute favourite up and coming bands and it’s great to see them starting to get recognition from a wider audience now, with them getting national exposure through the likes of Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music and Daniel P Carter’s Radio One Rock Show.

They have a new EP due to drop on the 17th of this month and they’re putting on a nationwide tour to help promote this. I was chuffed to bits to see them announce a show in my home town at The Ferret, just down the road from me… and then I was filled with anxiety over whether the show would get the support it deserved. My last show there was the embarrassingly quiet False Heads gig, and I didn’t want Sœur to travel up from Bristol to perform to one man and his dog (…and me obvs!).

I’m happy to report that there was a decent gathering! This was one of the free shows that The Ferret hosts, and they often play around a bit with the line up, so the “headline” act doesn’t necessarily play last, but normally 3rd out of 4 bands, when the pub is likely to be busiest from natural footfall. Speaking to band member Anya after the show she said that they didn’t feel that would be fair on the last act, and so they decided to play last, even if that meant playing to fewer people. It was awesome to see that not only were there significant numbers who stuck around to see Sœur, but the pub was definitely at its busiest for their set, despite them not taking the stage until gone 11pm.

Opening up were Blackpool band Oceans Over Alderaan. Their guitarist had a plethora of effects pedals and gizmos, and I could tell they were going for an experimental sound, but personally I found the vocals were drowned out and to be honest the band failed to hold my attention.

Next were local lads Three Headed Monkey, and the 4-piece definitely did grab my attention, mostly via their pulsating and groovy bass lines. The bass player (who kinda looked like my tattooist) occupied the front and centre of the stage, and he was awesome to watch, the band churning out tunes that I thought combined the Red Hot Chili Peppers at their funky best, with Rage Against the Machine-esqe moments and definitely more than a wee bit of early Biffy Clyro thrown in to the mix. I really enjoyed it.

A long way from being just another local support act, next up were Pipapo from Leipzig in Germany. They get a bit of a mixed review from me, because their instrumental math rock was kind of cool, the guitarist having the mother of all pedal boards to eek out every conceivable effect you could think of, but instrumental bands are a bit of a bug bear for me. Personally I need a vocalist, otherwise it just feels all too self indulgent and ultimately unengaging. Whilst I find it hard to put aside my instrumental prejudice, one of the guys I was with is a big fan of that style and he loved it, claiming them to be the highlight of the night.

The main event for me was always going to be Sœur though, and I took myself towards the front so I could have a bop along. I’m very much use to them opening their set with ‘Put You On’ which has an unassuming intro before smashing you in the face with a sledge hammer when the chorus kicks in. They didn’t play it this time, which on the one hand made me a little sad, but it is good to see them keeping the set fresh. What they did instead was play a slow and moody intro that then kicked in to their standalone single ‘Left Living’ – it was an unexpected and cracking start to the set.

Early on in the performance it seemed that dual vocalist/guitarist Tina was having a few issues with her in-ear monitors, and those paying attention would also notice that Anya was obviously suffering with a bit of a head cold, but it didn’t seem to detract from the performance and the harmonies were still tighter than a nun’s chuff.

Meanwhile drummer Jim just went about his business at the back with an assured coolness. I used to have a thing about wanting to watch drummers who are really animated, but Jim’s drumming style is far more laid back which is quite an achievement given the dynamic nature of Sœur’s sound. I’m no drumming expert, but the constant stop/starts combined with the changes of pace and switching from quiet to loud strike me as a difficult shift for a drummer to put in, so kudos to him for making it look so easy.

The set showcased all of the songs from the upcoming EP. ‘Track Back’ is really upbeat with almost a bit of a ska/reggae feel to it, whilst recent single ‘Out Again’ makes great use of the dual vocal element of the band. Some of the songs from the upcoming release still aren’t in the public domain, but are still familiar to me having seen them played earlier in the year – the stickability of tracks that have only been performed live to date always impresses me.

There’s also early single ‘No Fire’ which is one of my favourites, and ‘Just Yet’ from debut EP ‘What Separates Us’ which, with it’s duelling vocals, is another great example of the bands uniqueness – the heavy outro to this song in particular highlights Sœur at their brutal best. The anthemic ‘Slow Days’ also from that debut EP is a great change of pace, and again shows the band’s versatility.

The set is finished with title track from the new EP ‘Fight’, which again is one of my favourites (damnit I love’em all!), but really is a great finale with its spoken word lyrics accompanying slowly building layers of drums and guitar culminating in a loud and frantic finish.

It was good to have a catch up with all three band members afterwards as they’re all good eggs (I pester them way too often, but they’re dead nice about it).

I struggle to come up with enough superlatives to say how impressed with this band I am, and I’m genuinely excited to see where their journey takes them. Their tour continues throughout the month and I definitely recommend going along to see them if you can.

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