Live Review: Dea Matrona – The Wardrobe, Leeds, 04.05.24

Formed in 2018, following time busking on the streets of Belfast, Dea Matrona have clearly spent time honing their craft as a live act. There’s a good crowd in the Wardrobe in Leeds, and interestingly, with a far higher average age than I was expecting. 

Many have come down early to see the excellent Fiona-Lee. As always, she delivers a raw and emotional performance, the type that makes you feel it, right in your guts. Those who hadn’t seen her before were transfixed by the openness and honesty in the lyrics and the response grew to a real crescendo as she closed out the set with her debut single Mother, which has already seen some airplay on BBC 6 Music.

Orlaith Forsyth and Mollie McGinn burst on to the stage 30 minutes later to the sound of Stamp On It, taken from their debut album For Your Sins, released just the day before they play Leeds. The album spans acoustic singer-songwriter, folky, jazzy and rock sensibilities, showing a depth of musicality in the band. It’s all delivered with confidence and tightness that has been developed over the many years on Belfast’s streets, before this album dropped.

They’re a dynamic proposition on stage, with Orlaith on bass in particular careering around the stage, high kicking and hair whipping in equal measure. Mollie takes vocals this time, but they switch seamlessly between leading and both sound great. In the harmony, you can hear the influence of Fleetwood Mac on their sound, and maybe that’s what’s drawn the more experienced gig goer to Leeds this evening.  This is particularly evident towards the end of the set, with Red Button, which has become something of a sing-along highlight in the live shows.

There are a couple of excellent covers – one of which is Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well along with Kiss, by Prince – both delivered with confidence and humour, and giving the crowd something beyond just playing the new album.

There’s a playful, almost pantomime moment, where the crowd alternately cheers then boos Orlaith, as she wears then removes a novelty cowboy hat. It’s a nod to their one and only visit to Texas, a story that leads us into Dead Man’s Heart. 

And in advance of Glory Glory (I am Free), the room is lit up with mobile phone lights, and a good few classic lighters, creating a magical atmosphere for one of the band’s more personal songs.

Their debut album is great and it translates brilliantly to the live stage. But it’s the charm and charisma that really sells this gig. Orlaith and Mollie are beautifully engaging performers that leave it all out there on the stage, and you can see this comfortably translating to much bigger venues next time they hit the road.

Set list:
Stamp On It
Get My Mind Off It
Stuck On You
Did Nobody Ever Love You?
Nobody’s Child
So Damn Dangerous
Oh Well
Black Rain
Glory, Glory (I am Free)
Dead Man’s Heart
Every Night I Want You
Red Button
Make You My Star

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