Indie/alternative three-piece Fatherson deservedly appeared on many ‘Best of 2016’ lists with their fantastic album Open Book. To keep the momentum going into 2017, the band have been touring mainland Europe in support of the record and this show at The Zephyr lounge is the first show of this headline tour back in the UK.
Local band Trueheights open the show with a performance that’s high on style and presentation, but a little lacklustre in content. The opener shows a lot of promise with its upbeat energy and impressive vocals from frontman Zakk Poland, but as the set progresses the songs start to blend together and follow the same theme. With consistent song structures from one track to the next and vocal melodies that seem recycled across multiple songs, there’s not enough variation in the songwriting just yet to sustain interest over a whole set.
The band have obviously put a lot of thought into their image – a large branded backdrop adorns the back of the stage and each member of the band looks like they’ve just walked off a magazine shoot. As part of this polished presentation, a backing track with synth effects plays in the background and though this is a nice idea, the effects drown out the organic guitars on stage leaving just drums, vocals and the backing track as the prominent sounds. There’s plenty of potential here though and if Trueheights can shift their focus from perfecting their image to perfecting their songwriting craft, they’ll be in a much better position to carve out a long career.
In stark contrast to the opening band, Fatherson take to the stage with no backdrop bearing their name and no backing track to perform to, relying solely on the raw talent running throughout the band. Playing a mixture of songs from Open Book and their debut We Are An Island, Fatherson don’t play a note out of place, particularly front man Ross Leighton, whose vocals are sublime for the entirety of the set. Leighton’s vocals on record are emotive and carry a lot of character and every inflection and high note on the record is matched perfectly on stage. There’s nothing from the studio album that this band can’t reproduce live and the attention they’ve committed to the craft of songwriting is paying huge dividends.
‘The Forest’ and ‘Sleeping Over’, two of the more mellow songs on Open Book, are much more vibrant live and this change in perspective offers a chance to enjoy certain tracks in a new way. This effect is one of the unique joys that live music can provide and makes not only this one event a special moment, but it revives the album all over again, making the record a whole new experience as well.
Fatherson reinforced their reputation for creating emotionally uplifting, alternative songs with Open Book and with such incredible live performances to go alongside it, they’ve proven themselves to be a major force in the genre. Humble, down-to-earth, gimmick free and immensely talented, Fatherson are the complete package.