Live Review: Brother

O2 Academy, Liverpool, May 25th

Victor Frankowski/NME
Pic: Victor Frankowski/NME
Sporting a Morrissey tattoo on his leg, Brother frontman Lee Newell is edging towards stage time via a fridge full of alcohol in the dressing room he shares with his fellow bandmates: bassist Josh Ward, drummer Frank Colucci and guitarist Sam Jackson. It’s just moments before the Slough band will play their first ever Liverpool gig during a party-heavy UK tour. “I don’t even know if I can drive a car anymore; I just roll into vans these days,” the aforementioned bassist blurts out as he opens another can. As pre-gig drinks are knocked back, there’s also time to run through a list of bands they watched at SXSW whom they describe as “poseurs”.

There’s an open bluntness about this quartet who are as friendly as they are refreshing. They’re the type of boys who offer you beer and bad mouth your mum in the same breath, and it’s an attitude which, thankfully, continues onstage too. There’s certainly a decent (and rowdy) turn out, granting onlookers plenty of opportunity for the boisterous camaraderie Brother crave. Reviving Britpop was always going to be a cross-generational venture, and opener ‘High Street Low Lives’ reaches out across them all. Newell’s boy-rebel charm urges: “This is real and I’m free/This is what I want to be”, striking a strong connection with the pint-swilling lads in the audience. It’s no bad thing: it offers a release of energy not many bands achieve playing to a brand-new crowd, especially in the swig-happy backstreets of Liverpool.

The hazy tones of ‘Electric Daydream’ and feel-good summer hangover cure of ‘Darling Buds Of May’ prove Brother to be so much more than a group of cheeky mates who got lucky. The set is rife with gut-punching, super-melodic and pop star-worthy singles, mining a rich seam of apparently contradictory modern nostalgia. The foot-stomping, vintage indie hiss of ‘Time Machine’ closes the set, sounding, ironically, fresh. It also boasts a case of impressively tight musicianship, despite the boys’ minimal gigging experience. Grown men are shouting to Newell that they “fucking love him”.

Others are sat on their mate’s shoulders, trying to dance from a 6ft height. Whatever is happening in the world of Brother, it’s happening to their fans too. So, should you think you’re only dealing with a straight-up case of déjà vu, dig deeper; if Brother’s debut sounds this demanding, next May these gobby darling buds could be in full, award-winning bloom.

Kelly Murray

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