MEGAN KENNEDY reviews Brother, Slough’s answer to the Britpop revival.
21st February, Anglia Ruskin University
There’s nothing quite like the hostile stares of three smoking Edwardian street urchins to set the mood of an evening. The image chosen by Brother as their backdrop seemed apt to anyone who has ever heard of the music industry’s ‘next big guitar band’: youthful, mouthy, and well ‘ard.
Before they graced the stage, support came in the form of Locomotives and All The Young. The all-smiling Locomotives chugged through a set of stereotypical ‘dad-rock’, with show opener Lights Out, and All The Young brought a more morose sound to the stage, announcing after three mournful tunes that ‘this next one is a sad song’. They were accomplished, but they lacked a spark, and sounded more commercial radio ‘indie’ than cutting edge. I bet Fearne Cotton loves them.
Time for Brother. What outrageous things were they going to do? Tear apart the state of British music today? Throw an amp into the face of a young fan? Thankfully neither occurred and the band entered the venue in a surprisingly subdued manner, settling with a quick ‘Hello Cambridge!’ before launching into their opener. Everything about Brother’s performance was incredibly slick and confident, suggesting that the band is prepared to take on larger venues than the intimate ARU hall. Highlights included New Year’s Day, sounding just as polished live as on record, and the new song preview entitled Highstreet Lowlifes. All music was assisted by the Happy Mondays-esque backing-singer – a nice touch that added variety to the typical guitar band setup. ‘I know you’re expecting me to say something horrible,’ frontman Lee Newell unexpectedly felt obliged to interject, ‘but we really appreciate it’.
Unsurprisingly, the best response of the night was reserved for their latest single Darling Buds of May, an example of three minutes worth of pop music at its finest; simple melody, memorable hooks and a refrain that the audience can sing along to. It’s understandable why their music is compared to Britpop, but Brother successfully manages to make their own mark.
The sight of Brother signing merchandise and happily talking to fans post-show is one that contrasts greatly with the snarling, laddish press image that they have built up. It’s a shame that they have to resort to these media caricatures but hopefully, with a little bit more exposure, the music will finally be able to do the talking on their behalf.