A few of us from Louder Than War went to see Southampton’s Doyle and the Fourfathers all the way up in the North last week. Liz from Back Street Indie was with us, and may have been a little bit impressed that night…

Doyle and the Fourfathers stormed into Manchester last Friday, performing at Dry Bar in the heart of the indie Northern Quarter. I listened to their music for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was absolutely captivated by their extraordinary sound. I couldn’t believe that this was a relatively new band, so accomplished and developed was their music. And seeing the band live last Friday managed to live up to, and indeed exceed, all expectations; Doyle and the Fourfathers really are a new musical force to be reckoned with. From the moment Ben Clarke strummed his first chord and William Doyle sang his first note, it was as if a thousand lights had been turned on in the dark basement gig venue.

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The band opened strongly with the impressive and gloriously upbeat track ‘Dark Times, Luminous People’. The band’s virtuoso performance on this opening track exuded style, panache and complete individuality, captivating the audience by the time the first verse had been sung. It’s a great track all about those inspiring, bright and radiant people we come across in otherwise dark and austere times. The quirky guitar crescendo at the end was played perfectly and reveals just what a talented lead guitarist and bass player combo they have in Ben Clark and Michael Goozee respectively. It’s is a great indicative track of what this band are all about and the kind of musical adventure they want to take us on.

My favourite track, and the opener from debut album Man Made, ‘When Will the Children Learn’ was up next. Its’ hugely addictive and has an old-fashioned beat-band feel about it. Full of brilliant lyrical imagery and containing a myriad of diverse instruments, it’s a beautifully constructed song that evolves and grows with each play; every time I hear it, it means something new. ‘L’enfant Terrible’ was up next. A song I hadn’t heard before, this was an instant favourite with the audience, not least thanks to the vibrant harmonica playing of Michael Goozee, which gave the song an edgy 60s feel at the its apex.

‘What Else Are We To Do’ and ‘Obsolete Vernacular’ appeared mid-gig. Brooding, wonderfully eccentric and glorious stream-of-consciousness, the tracks surprise in their sheer distinctive brilliance, especially the latter. Another big crescendo ending is there again and its heady, psychedelic, dreamy tones carry the crowd away to the point where everyone is singing along to the “haven’t you heard”¦” closing lines of the song; it’s a poignant moment in the gig and testament to the band’s talent and hard work that the audience are so engrossed in the musical journey they are being taken on.

William Doyle’s brilliance as lead singer and front man is apparent throughout the gig, but when he puts his acoustic guitar down and starts to move around the stage he starts a very special kind of lead-singer/audience dialogue and relationship that only a few front-men can pull of with such grace and style. I’ve said previously it’s very Jarvis Cocker like and the audience respond warmly to his interaction with them, as he completely carries them away. Few new bands can do this so early on in their careers or pull it off so effortlessly. It’s a mark of something very special.

‘Every Woman That You’ve Met’ with its Smiths-type riffs followed and again Ben Clark and Michael Goozee stand out as being harmoniously in sync as far as bass-lead guitarist rhythms go. They work perfectly and all is held together by the brilliant Alex Urch, a drummer whose talents shine brightly on the night. Towards the end of the set, the crowd were treated to ‘Lion’s Share’ and ‘Shape and Form’. What’s so apparent with these songs, as all songs on the night, is just how cohesive this band are live. It’s faultless and worthy of a much larger stage. ‘Shape and Form’ is a slower song that is completely endearing; the way it bursts into a huge anthemic song mid-song is truly engaging and very well played. Once again, Alex Urch’s drumming here stands out through the way in which he drives the song forward with a careful, delicate urgency.

The band’s excellent new single ‘Welcome to Austerity’ was up next. Getting some prominent air-play this week, the song is a perfect antidote to these strike-ridden times; its one of those oxymoronic type songs which chooses to deal with the melancholic topic of the troubled times in a totally upbeat, uplifting and hope-fuelled manner. Lyrically, it’s full of impressive imagery and structurally it’s full of engaging twists and turns that delight and surprise: great guitar based indie at its finest.

The encore ‘Maker of the Man’ completed what was an accomplished and hugely enjoyable set from the Southampton four-piece. The band seem to take the best influences from guitar-based indie music of the sixties and nineties, put their own unique twist and stamp upon these styles and come out with something truly magical. Man Made from which this track comes, is one of those albums where you discover something new on listen. There are so many moments of beauty it is impossible to quantify. Around every barre, every chorus, every end of verse, every riff, something eclectic and truly original is waiting. I really cannot praise this band enough: I urge you to discover the amazing Doyle and the Fourfathers.

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