5th May | Thekla

As this author can attest, the Bristol music scene is a very welcoming one for new arrivals.

How appropriate, then, that as part of a series of shows to celebrate Thekla’s 35th Birthday, the headliners for this Sunday night extravaganza should be recent-ish transplants, Sœur. On a day of terrific entertainment from a number of rising local bands, Sœur are the true icing on the birthday cake. Originally from Worcester, the band has been well and truly embraced by their new hometown.

With good reason, too. For Sœur are one of the most accomplished new rock bands around.

The brilliance of Sœur lies in how they effortlessly combine beautiful, duelling melodies with driving rock riffs. Anya Pulver and Tina Maynard both have fabulous voices – they could sing any style of music and be brilliant at it. They alternate their vocals wonderfully, effortlessly moving from one voice to the other. Their interaction is tight and gripping, and hugely engaging.

Make no mistake, though, this is a hard-rock band: loud, and fierce, and passionate. It’s easy to draw comparisons to your favourite 90s riot grrl or grunge band, but Sœur have plenty of originality to them too, bringing in some interesting song structures that surprise you.

Tonight, they showcase all of that and so much more. Opening with the ominous, muted bars of ‘No Fire’, the chorus erupts in a rage of booming guitar and Anya Pulver’s flailing hair, an angry tale of relationship disappointment: “Trying to remember anything about you I admire/no smoke no fire.” It is a song that gets you involved in proceedings right away.

The band roll out a few new songs tonight, and the first of these, ‘Do What I Want’, gets a rapturous reception from the large crowd – not bad for their first ever live performance of the song. This is a set that is full of highlights, though. Pulver takes a wander and serenades members of the audience during ‘Whole Me’, and then takes a full on Lambeau Leap during set-closer ‘Fight’. The latter tune is particularly well-performed, with Pulver and Maynard alternating in increasingly-impassioned vocals (“I’ve got to know, answer me now, I’ve got to know, will it ever be enough?”), before the song explodes, as if into a full-on argument. It is a very cleverly-delivered track.

The highlight of the night, though, is the wonderful ‘Slow Days’. Starting with a calm, simple riff, it develops gradually into something amazing – beguiling melodies, rocking riffs, and then in the second half of the song, a soulful, almost-anthemic refrain of inclusiveness – “if we’re all made, from the same strain, what separates us?” It brought goose bumps to this cynical old author, no word of a lie.

Beyond their talent, though, what really draws one to Sœur is their earthy feel and their down-to-earth nature. As an audience member, you feel very at home in their presence.

Overall, a hugely impressive performance from this rising band, and one that is worthy of the occasion. One suspects that the day will come that they are too big to play venues of this size, and if so, then bring it on. This is a band that everyone should get to hear.

See the video for ‘Fight’ here:

Featured photo also by Simon Moyse.