Fatherson [rating: 3] aren’t exactly breaking new ground when it comes to their music. That said, it’s tried and tested, and what they do, they do well. They have some really solid pop-rock songs that are bolstered by a great voice and sparse, effective harmonies. They’re a band of light and shade; their heavier moments are powerful and some of the most exciting parts of the set – but there are also moments of quiet clarity – where the songs are stripped back to their component parts – where the talent of the band is really allowed to shine. It is the balance and contrast between the two that make Fatherson such a promising band to watch. Unfortunately, this promise was somewhat diminished by a muddy sound mix that meant that many of the harmonies and subtleties of the songs were hidden.
Prides [rating: 4.5] are an explosive trio from Glasgow who have been steadily making waves across the country with their bombastic synth-pop anthems. They stopped off at the Institute Birmingham to play an electric set as part of their extensive UK tour.
Those that have seen a Prides show before will know that it is less of a ‘gig’, and more of a night out. The booming bass and groovy rhythms are reminiscent of a commercial-club floor, and the energy levels are just as high. Singer Stewart Brock makes use of his wireless microphone to throw himself about the stage whenever he’s free from the keyboard, Callum James bounces up and down on his keyboard and Lewis Gardner bangs his head and throws up his fists at the back. Prides visibly pulsate with the music they make, and the audience returned the energy they threw into the show tenfold.
However, with the massive scale of Prides’ music it could be easy to miss the quality of the song-writing. The Glaswegian lads have mastered the act of writing a catchy tune. Their songs are jam-packed with juicy hooks, and euphoric choruses that are just begging to be shouted at the tops of your lungs. And shouted back they were. And it’s not just the singles: the beauty of Prides is that, even relatively unknown songs are so catchy that – by the end of the song – everyone in the crowd was singing along.
Similar to Fatherson, there are some quieter moments in Prides’ set. One of the highlights was the tender encore of album-closer ‘Kite String and the Anchor Rope’, where the booming bass and blaring synths were done away with and replaced with luscious harmonies and delicate piano. Not only was it nice breather in such an energetic set, but it also showcases what makes Prides so intriguing: masterful melodies, heartfelt lyrics and Brock’s incredible voice.
All in all, Prides aren’t doing anything new; and don’t expect to have your mind blown by the depths of their music. But that’s not what they’re about. Sometimes music can just be pure and impulsive, and that’s what Prides are. Also, listening to it live is a crazy amount of fun.