FlowersHarvest Sun @ Leaf 3/3/16
It’s FLOWERS’ first time in Liverpool tonight. Singer and bassist Rachel Kennedy alludes to this fact when she expresses her gratitude to the Leaf crowd which has slightly thinned out since the end of the local support band’s set. This is about the only time Kennedy addresses her audience in what is a very business-like performance from the Londoners on a cold but good-natured Saturday night.
The business of Flowers is to deliver beautifully formed poems to love, loss and heartbreak over vibrant guitar riffs and pounding drums. Sam Ayres’ furious guitar provides the most interesting focal point of the performance. As Kennedy’s vocal sores, Ayres paces the stage like a caged panther while thrashing out jangly tunes accompanied only with a restrained bassline from Kennedy and drummer Jordan Hockley’s tub-thumping.
The audience tonight is appreciative rather than overcome with adulation as the Londoners deliver a set of songs plucked from their Bernard Butler-produced debut album as well as newbies from Everybody’s Dying To Meet You, an album which arrived in record shops just this month. Lead single Pull My Arm demonstrates the band’s effective contrast of angelic vocals with dirty reverb-driven guitar. At just over two minutes it’s pop in its purest form but also brings to mind the birth of that other troublesome genre: indie.
Sounding and looking like various bands from the NME’s definitive C86 compilation, Flowers give the impression of yearning for a more innocent age. However, any twee leanings are rescued from the Cath Kidston bargain bin by dynamic interplay between guitar and drums. Flowers join Alvvays and Honeyblood in a growing army of exciting young bands who draw upon the likes Cocteau Twins and Throwing Muses for inspiration.
As is traditional for the band, they finish tonight’s set with the closing track from 2014 LP Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do. Stuck is arresting in its tenderness and minimalism – “Would I cry if you bruise me?” Kennedy wonders as she steadily strums a single bass string before the “I don’t know/why I’m stuck” reprise. The track silences a Leaf and ends the set on a poignant note. To the question of whether a band, who will be levelled with charges of being stuck in the 80s, can be truly relevant in 2016, I’d have to say I too don’t know.
Sam Turner / @SamTurner1984