Home Gigs Gig Review : Dea Matrona – The Limelight, Belfast*

Gig Review : Dea Matrona – The Limelight, Belfast*

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

From busking on the streets of their home city of Belfast, through to their current European tour, it seems like Dea Matrona were born to make music to the biggest audiences possible.

Given their relatively tender ages, to think that the dual vocal, bass and guitar backbone of Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsythe are now four years veterans and still only just in their twenties is a testament to their talents and drive.

It’s impossible to see the trio, completed by Jamie on drums, and not be cast under their spell, their rise seemingly destined in the stars.

With their debut album still under construction, the set was a blend of originals and some off kilter covers, something that has become one of their trademarks. Whilst the latter are obvious crowd pleasers, harking back to their genesis, it’s the self-penned numbers that truly impress.

Opener ‘Just Wanna Rock’ was all high energy Blues but with a Country twang in its soul, McGinn and Forsythe throwing shapes and running all over the stage as they played, their Ying and Yang clothes choices adding to the carefully and cleverly crafted spectacle.

The fact that the two swap not only vocals but guitar and bass throughout the night adds another impressive visual layer too.

Switching immediately to a cover for the second song, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ was given their special treatment, retaining the loose-limbed punch of its source recording but adding a touch of sweetness into the mix like a honeyed bourbon.

The fuzzed up bass and bounce of ‘Stamp On It’ had the audience jumping and clapping, the band with mile wide grins, before the tumultuous  blues boogie of Rory Gallagher’s ‘Cradle Rock’ saw McGinn and Forsythe on their knees, backs arched, at its end.

The bright, swampy blast and anthemic chorus of ‘Wilderness’ gave way to the stuttering riff of ‘Walk This Way’, the band capturing more of the earthy and vibrant spirit of Aerosmith’s 1975 blueprint before the polish of the Run DMC take became known.

With a funky bass workout whilst the guitar wailed, there was no option to do anything but dance, the girls ability to work a crowd honed through years of grabbing the attention of passing pedestrians.

Back to their own material, ‘So Damn Dangerous’ is built for huge festivals like Glastonbury and with its slinky feel and seductive power, along with its perfect structuring, you can certainly see Dea Matrona winning over the masses during the hazy Summers.

‘Cross Road Blues’ leaned more into Eric Clapton’s newer version than the Robert Johnson original and ‘Feelings They Grow’ was another Dea Matrona winner, all glam rock stomp with a modern swing, the whole utterly ecstatic. THAT riff heralded a spacious and refreshing different version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, the Led Zeppelin classic feeling a lot looser and less bombastic.

The spiky early 80’s feel of ‘Heart’ provided a trip back too, but this time to the band’s nascent writing career, a sparkling pop gem that showed that, irrespective of how they’ve grown, a good song will
always be recognised as such and therefore have a place in the set.

With their second nod to the city’s rich musical heritage, Them’s indefatigable ‘Gloria’ is reclaimed for a new generation and the fragile and more bluesy take on ‘Purple Haze’ adding some wonder to the Hendrix masterpiece. Sandwiched between those, ‘Show Me’ is all stuttering and strutting funk, the drums of Walsh, who replaced McGinn’s younger sister Mamie, leading the groove.

Ending with high kicks that were pure 70’s rock moves, set closer ‘Make You My Star’ is another blues rock pounder, the audience swept away by the passion and pure adrenaline.

With the band called back for an inevitable encore, the marching beat of ‘It’s Only Music’ brought gritty blues that were infused with sparkling pop harmonies, a huge indoor confetti cannon filling the club with thousands of shreds of paper that fell like multi-coloured rain on all present.

The perfect way to celebrate a triumphant homecoming night, Dea Matrona showed they have the music and the moves to make some very big waves indeed.

Photography by Darren Mcveigh by MPM

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