Fatherson – Live Review – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
By David Schuster, October 2018
Fatherson spring onto the stage wearing matching beige casual suits and beaming smiles. They have had an 18-month break from touring, but clearly the Kilmarnock trio are glad to be back. “Hello Leeds!,” shouts Marc Strain, the bassist, grinning at the sea of faces packed into the sold-out confines of the Hyde Park Book Club. Without further ado the band hit the first notes of ‘Lost Little Boys’, and the floor, ceiling and my diaphragm all vibrate in sympathy. Excellent!
The band slow the tempo for the second number, ‘The Rain’, off their latest album Sum of All Your Parts. Unusually this starts with a simple melody line, played initially by drummer Greg Walkinshaw on drum pads. Later into the song, as the drum part develops, this melody line is taken up by a keyboardist augmenting the group’s live performances. This track epitomises the thoughtful feel of their third studio release, the song slowly building to a crescendo reminding me of the sound of Icelandic rockers Sigur Rós.
They follow this with ‘Making Waves’, also off this record, which starts with just Ross Leighton on guitar and vocals. If they had any reservations about how the new material is being received, they can safely put those to bed; the crowd enthusiastically sing along to the introduction.
You’ve got to love the Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds for its quirky intimacy, its no-frills whitewashed walls and low ceiling. Leighton stops the music for a moment, noticing a side-effect of this. “Is anybody tall enough to reach that mirror ball?”, he enquires innocently. Of course they are! “Spin it, spin it”, he impishly encourages an obligingly tall audience member. Strain’s bass is a key feature of their sound, reminiscent of Nirvana, and is shown at its best on the next two songs ‘Gratitude’ and ‘Just Past the Point of Breaking’. By now the crowd don’t need any encouragement to sing along to the festival-friendly chorus of ‘Ghost’.
The band clearly have a soft spot for Leeds, complimenting the crowd reaction and reminiscing about a previous gig at the Library that was similarly well received. Perhaps this is why Ross feels comfortable to pause and share the background to ‘Reflection’, one of the band’s favourite songs. With visible emotion he relates how the song was written after a conversation with his Gran, where he realised that fame had caused him to neglect his family and friends. Knowing this makes the lyrics doubly poignant; “I’ll try and call you tomorrow, but you know what I’m like”. It’s a great song too, starting with an echoing guitar line in the style of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’, and building with a snare drum sound coming in like a train. They finish the main set with a blistering version of ‘Always’.
After the shortest of breaks, Leighton returns to the stage alone, delivering a quietly powerful rendition of ‘James’, before being joined by the rest of the band. In a way, the four-song encore encapsulates Fatherson’s music, starting quietly and gradual rising to a soaring peak. They follow with ‘Open Book’ and ‘I Like Not Knowing’. Sometimes, if you have fallen out of love with what you do, it’s good to take a break, reflect and evaluate what it is that’s missing. That way you can recapture your original enthusiasm. They finish the evening with the rocking ‘Charm School’.
I look back down the room, and as far back as I can see the crowd are jumping. Fatherson have definitely got their mojo back.
images: Gail Schuster