It hasn’t been easy, this past week, with questions asked regarding why I was travelling up to Manchester’s Deaf Institute.
Hesitantly I’d reply with “just going to a gig” and hope that the probing would end there, but when they wanted to know who I was going to see, I was forced, after stating the name Deptford Goth, into an immediate explanation: “Oh it’s not what it sounds like,” etc. It was met with dubious suspicion, as though they were picturing me in the craziest of northern black metal raves.
Daniel Woolhouse is neither from Deptford nor possesses goth characteristics, other than his penchant for dark clothing, but whilst there are certain emotional comparisons you can make with the xx it’s difficult to define his sound.
After support from the unfathomably talented Conner Youngblood, who we’re going to be interviewing next week, and the tormented sounds of duo GREAT WAVES, Woolhouse took to the stage accompanied by cellist Rose Dagul of Rhosyn.
‘Objects Objects’ was their first foray into the set-list that was heavily based on this year’s Life After Defo, and straight away you could see that the pair were trying to achieve something different to what’s on the album.
Gone were the sonic thump of driving bass and percussion that became hallmarks of Woolhouse’s debut album, with the sheer emotional tenderness that was always bubbling away underneath on record taking prominence, and it worked remarkably well.
The ability to adapt is a crucial string in the bow of any musician, and it was clear that Woolhouse, with the help of the beautifully talented Dagul, was changing things around not just for the sake of it, but because he wanted to offer the audience a whole new take on his crafted set of songs.
‘Life After Defo’ retained its recorded bleeps and ‘oohs’ with an optimistic Woolhouse singing “Hold for a miracle, you might get one”. The soulful ‘Union’, another standout track from the album, benefits from the bittersweet cello sounds that resonate from an instrument seemingly hell-bent on tugging at the heartstrings of everyone in the ornately small venue. Inane chit-chat between songs was at a minimum with the songs rightly allowed to do the talking themselves.
There was space in the set-list for pre-Life material ‘Time’ and ‘No Man’, off Woolhouse’s 2011 EP Youth II, although disappointingly ‘Particles’, possibly the most poignant track on the album, was dropped.
It was to be the only disappointment of what was a beautiful night of delicate angst-ridden songs that captivated the crowd in a manner that is rarely seen these days.