Sœur @ Soup Kitchen

WE ARE ONE! Yep, Mixing Up The Medicine is celebrating its first anniversary! Over the last 12 months writing this blog has really solidified how much I love live music, but I’ve also rediscovered my love of writing. It’s been great to have a creative outlet to help me unwind. So if you’re a regular reader, thanks for coming along for the ride. And what better way to celebrate then by reviewing a performance by one of my absolute favourite bands, Sœur.

Have I mentioned before how much I love Sœur? Hell yeah I have! In fact the Bristolian three-piece have the dubious honour of being the most featured band on these webpages, this being the 6th time (7 if you include 2 performances at 2000 Trees) I’ve covered them. Why do I love them so much? Because they’re so damn good!

I don’t just want to regurgitate the same old superlatives though, so I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I like so much, and I think a large part of it is how I was so blown away the very first time I saw them. It was almost 2 years ago and at that point, I didn’t know who they were and I didn’t know any of their songs, but the conviction in the performance absolutely gripped me. I’ve listened to them on heavy rotation since then.

I’d love to tell some great story about how I’ve seen them grow and develop over those 2 years, but truth be told, they were already absolutely kick-ass back then, and they’re remain absolutely kick-ass now.

This week saw me travel down to Manchester to see them play a headline show in the city for the very first time. Out of character for me, I managed to miss the support act Trigger Thumb, getting too carried away with beers and the good company of a couple of friends from work who came along to the gig. We did catch the tail end of their set, which sounded like a slightly bonkers concoction of System of a Down combined with Liverpudlian art rockers SPQR. Not for the faint hearted. I need to make time to check them out in more depth.

Sœur took to the stage with an encouraging level of cheers from the crowd. The Soup Kitchen felt like exactly the right size venue for the band, and whilst it was by no means sold out, it was certainly busy enough to have a really good atmosphere, which was especially pleasing for a Tuesday night. The set opened with a dark and moody instrumental intro which then burst into ‘No Fire’ quickly followed by ‘Left Living’. Having performed those 2 stand alone singles, the set then mixed up material from EPs ‘What Separates Us’ and ‘Fight’.

There was a performance of a previously unheard of song ‘Doesn’t Does’ (…I think that’s the right title) which demonstrated more of the bands trademark brutal riffing. They also played brand new single ‘No Show’, with Anya commenting how the song is about struggles with depression. Perhaps, this is where the band have grown in those 2 years, tackling braver and more poignant subject matter in their lyrics, which gives a certain level of vulnerability and rawness to some of the songs. I know that ‘Whole Me’ has a similar theme, and for me, that’s the song that really gets you in the feels with Tina singing “I’ll make you feel better” whilst Anya responds with “Can you make me feel?”, the melody of the song also giving a polite nod to The Pixies ‘Where is my Mind?’. Perhaps it’s an insight in to the pair’s friendship (…though imagine it’s all PR and in real life they hate each other!?! 😬).

I have to reserve my favourite moment though for seeing Tina strap on her silver baritone guitar to perform ‘Put You On’ (…I’m no guitar nerd by the way, I only know it’s a baritone because she told me afterwards!). I knew what was coming as soon as I saw the guitar come out of the case, but it’s still hard to describe the school girl giddiness when they actually played it. I know it’s one of their earlier songs, and the last 2 times I saw them it didn’t make the set, so I was extra chuffed to see it re-instated. If I had to make you listen to one Sœur song, that would be the one – I think it sums up their sound brilliantly (and Anya informs the crowd it’s about being a bit crazy, so maybe that sums them up too). I think I should decree that Sœur shall not drop it from the set again, under punishment of disownment!

‘Slow Days’ is the penultimate song, which is slightly slower paced. I’ve always felt it’s the kind of song that I shouldn’t like as much as the rest of their material, but its so well written, catchy and I love the lyrics, which in the current politically divisive climate ask “If we’re all made from the same strain, what separates us?” (legit thinking these lyrics could make a great tattoo…)

‘Fight’, the title track from the second EP, closes the set. It’s such a perfect set closing song, it would be criminal if they were to finish with anything else.

I had such a fun night. Re-emphasing how much I love live music, I feel such a buzz watching Sœur, in my own little dancing bubble singing along to all the songs (…making up most of the words). I felt like I had a beaming grin across my face for most of the night. And it was great to see such a great reception from the crowd, with loud whoops and whistles following every song. At one point the band almost seemed taken aback by the adulation, drummer Jim breaking into a grin seeing such a positive audience reaction. It seems that not only are the crowds for their gigs growing, but the connection with the crowd is growing too.

Was good to catch up with the band afterwards. It sounds as though EP 3 is very nearly finished and will hopefully be released later in the year. There should be another headline tour to accompany the release too, which I’ll inevitably take in, so check back in around 6 months time for another gushing review!

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