Live Review: Motherhood


Arts Club, 9th November 2016
Words: Gary Lambert

It was the 9 November 2016, America had voted for Donald J Trump to become their next president, and the rest of the world had started to panic and think of Doomsday scenarios based around a vision of nuclear war gameshows. In a darkened loft in Liverpool, a gang of hardy souls gathered together to see if they could grab a glimpse into the future, and if that future contained hope or not. In case any members of the political elite feel they should be concerned at the lack of invite, you can catch up with Paris Youth Foundation and Motherhood on Soundcloud.

This was supposed to be a three-act gig, but unfortunately Sub Blue had to pull out the day before meaning all eyes were on PYF and the debutants Motherhood. Both of these bands are at the very start of their potential careers, so this is not going to be a gushing review of them. However I wish to make it VERY clear, these are talented musicians who have a good way with a song – but I will be avoiding hyperbole regarding them being the next must see on the circuit because in my opinion that does nothing but get people who are expecting a finished article at their next gig.

Paris Youth Foundation opened up the event and I was impressed with their use of guitar to make a more relaxed and poppy feel to their songs than a lot of bands at present.  It would be very easy to stick in a bit of synth and have an instant pop feeling to tracks, instead this sounds needs a bit more work from the audience’s perspective. I did though get the feeling that the band need to gig and rehearse more as there was a slight looseness to the sound, not in a deliberate way like say Happy Mondays, but the natural sound of a band still getting used to their way in the world. Also the set felt musically inspired by the later albums of Kings of Leon with woo-woo moments aplenty. This is not a criticism though, it is understandable that one of the biggest guitar bands of their era would havean effect on their sound – and it is eight years since Kings of Leon went stadium so it is about the right time for that influence to come through when a young band is searching for a sound that is not too extreme.

Motherhood started off by telling the audience that it was their first gig, but given the screams that accompanied their arrival they were either YouTube sensations that have completely passed me by like (can someone type in some cool vlogger’s name here for me) or they were surrounded by friends making it a gentle debut. Given that later in the set someone started waving a lighter around like a Barry Manilow concert in 1986, I think it was a friendship thing.  Anyway…. I found that the music of Motherhood was strong, textured and surprisingly reminiscent of By The Sea, but conversely the songs from a vocal perspective were a lot more pop-focused. Whereas that could have become quite interesting in a terms of the juxtaposition in reverse of the pop licks of Johnny Marr providing the platform for Stephen Patrick Morrissey to change people’s lives, I was left a bit uncomfortable by it. The oxymoronic sound lacked unity and as the gig progressed it seemed a bit like an X Factor performance where a pop artist would perform a “serious” track and get rave reviews.  But I can see that there is hope in this music, but as with their counterparts earlier in the evening more rehearsal and gigging is needed.

To be fair, a venue like that in front of all your mates is a tough way to start really, and Motherhood performed well. I’m just looking forward to seeing them again in a few months time when I’m certain both bands will be better. It is not as though anybody in the audience had to watch through their fingers, and at no stage was I cringing, and there is no need for wholesale changes.  Every day is a school day. You don’t pass your GCSEs on the first day of seniors.

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