A Sunday night at The Birdcage left a lot to be desired for Belfast-born duo, Southern, who are set to play Oxford’s O2 Academy in two days. The kitsch interior and array of cakes doesn’t do anything to draw in the crowd but the energy and atmosphere on stage that night are identical to that of a sold-out show.
The night opens with a heartfelt acoustic set from Alex Taylor. His set is only made more exciting by his use of live loop pedalling, which are played with mathematical precision.
Also supporting Southern on their UK tour are Liverpudlian five-piece, Lives, whose rapturous sound tears through The Birdcage. However it comes as a huge surprise that this is only their fifth gig after being signed only two weeks earlier. Their adolescent charm entices Corn Street punters who slowly fill moments before Southern take to the stage.
Next is Southern, a brother-sister outfit hailing from Belfast, and the headline act of the night. The Birdcage seem massively unprepared for the ruckus that is Southern as Lucy’s guitar fights, expertly showcased on new single “Where I Want To Be”. It shows a move away from their more folk-orientated back-catalogue. “Where I Want To Be” draws parallels with the likes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys, a huge influence for Thom Southern. However, the recent move towards bluesy riffs and raspy vocals stops anyone who tries to define Southern’s style as they still continue to blend a culmination of country, folk, pop and rock while pushing for new styles vocally and technically. This is then confirmed by the much slower “The Way You Breathe”, which plays on Lucy’s beautiful voice and is accompanied by a softer performance from Thom.
If we didn’t know they were brother and sister before then we definitely did as Thom confessed his love for his younger sister before playing “Just Think About It”. However their on-stage chemistry is rivalled by their talent, breaking into the country soaked “Where The Wild Are” they confirm just how complex their music can be.
Despite a few technical hiccups along the way, all three acts conquer Bristol, pushing for bigger and better things for the rest of their UK tour. Southern’s live performance and complete charisma show why they are one of the most promising new bands to play Bristol in the past month, combining sounds that are both familiar yet completely fresh.
By Molly Collins