Having always missed Saint Sister every time they play, I had been excited for this gig for some time and Friday was finally the evening I got to see them. For their first headline show in Derry, the duo had chosen the Delacroix and with its intimate surroundings was perfect. The venue also held personal affiliation with singer Gemma Doherty who has performing there since she was young and made for a lovely homecoming gig.
The twosome which encompasses Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre originally formed in 2014. Frequenting SXSW at the beginning of the year and then a string of festival appearances including Glastonbury, Saint Sister have had an extremely successful year. In the short space of time they have been together they have played alongside Will Butler (Arcade Fire) and Hozier.
With a pleasant crowd starting to build Rosie Carney takes to the stage, she couldn’t be a more perfect support with her soft and gentle aura. Her song ‘Winter’ tells us the tale about the winter sun disappearing, signifying emotional apathy for a disconnected and disengaged society. Only nineteen years old her maturity as both a musician and a presence on stage makes her wise beyond her years.
Appearing on stage to a rapturous reception, the chatty crowd becomes immediately still and silent. The atmospheric the drum beat pulsates through the venue as the girls and their band arrive on stage. Playing a song of their first E.P ‘Versions of Hate’ the lyrics are sentimental and poetic. “I’ve been busy making enemies of everyone but you. We sit side by side pretending we don’t know it ask me if I love you. I’ve been wondering that too.”
Their song ‘Castles’ helps their set continue with the dreamy and pensive tones while retaining the stunning their harmonies. Despite being a two-piece, the pair have power in the performance that evidently transmits to the smitten audience. Explaining the meaning behind their song ‘Tinman’ and how it is the antidote to the B side of their other single ‘Corpses’. Morgan MacIntyre tells the audience how both songs explore the notion of dreams and the elements and evolution of life.
Utterly bewitching, the Irish duo’s song ‘Madrid’ is striking with the group moving from ethereal electronic sounds to the untouched purity of the harp. The audience are riveted by this point of the evening having barely taken their eyes of the stage. Each of their songs is more than the usual interesting instrumentation but a stimulating melding of Irish traditional elements with strong sense of story-telling throughout their lyrics.
Saint Sister’s songs are soulful and I just love how they have managed to seamlessly blend their folk influences, including the clear hint of Celtic along with the modern twist of electronic. One of the most emotive, irresistible and talented bands I have had the pleasure to see, they are truly ones to watch. The musicianship and artistry that goes into each of their songs is remarkable and I look forward to the next time I have the pleasure of catching this magnificent duo.
Photo by Aodhagan O'Flaherty