Kris Barras/Dea Matrona –
Epic Studios, Norwich, Thursday, 23rd February, 2023
So here we are at Epic Studios Norwich, a venue I love to attend. It has great sound, great lighting and a great atmosphere!
Dea Matrona are a band featuring Orlaith Forsythe, Sisters 'Mollie McGinn' & Jimmy on the drums. Not having heard or seen anything of Dea Matrona before, I was going in with an open mind. As they came out the crowd cheered and it seemed like Dea Matrona had a following. So this normally means we could be in for a good show, Well they did that and much more.
Soon as they started you got the feeling the girls had something different as the set went on the girls reminded me of JOANovARC with their stage presence and style. This was when Samantha, Shelly, Laura, And Debs were in the band. Now some may moan, some may agree but this is a compliment to Dea Matrona.
So back to Dea Matrona it was a mixture of Rock & Blues. They did this very well and it seemed to go down great with the crowd. The girls seem to be having fun on stage and their interaction with the crowd was very good. They announced they will be doing their own headline tour in May 2023. I hope to be attending this and be able to cover this with Paul 'Rhino' Mace. The guitar solos were very good and on point.
Mid-set they did some acoustic songs and Wow! This showed their raw side and it was very different to what we had been listening to. I would love to see a full set of this. It was powerful and yet so simple. The girls' harmonies are just totally at another level. For me, this is when you felt the Irish background was on show. I've had several people message me saying how lucky I was to see them play some acoustic songs. I had to agree with them.
As the show came to an end I felt that this is a band to watch out for and I hope we see much more of them. Since seeing them Live I’ve You-Tubed them and found that their energy and passion isn't captured on CD. I would suggest to anyone who isn't sure on Dea Matrona to go see them live as you will definitely be a fan after.
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Now comes Kris Barras on stage with a huge roar from the crowd. I've seen them do an acoustic set in lockdown which was very good and was looking forward to this show tonight.
It started with a small intro that was setting the tempo for the night. We were then hit with 'Hail Mary'. The crowd knew this song well and sang and danced along to it. This was an amazing song to start the show off with a pirate feel to this song at times.
Next up was 'Dead Horses'. This was a little bit more of the music I was expecting but it still was like a wild animal trying to get out of its cage. It felt like the band wanted to give it more but were also trying to keep it to its grass roots. But it's still a great song and came across well.
'These Voices' was up next and this was played like how it was written and how it was performed in the past with a great sound and some great vocals. Through the set list you can see the band are evolving into something new.
'Heart On Your Sleeve' had a heavy rock intro and a sign of where Kris Barass is heading to. The guitars and drums are really going for it then has Kris sings it tones down a little and the band are just so in tune with each other it feels great. Then comes the solos of the guitars and drums and we go back to the heavy rock style.
I had people come past me and say this isn't what they were expecting and left. I do feel that Kris Barass is developing a new style of music in their journey and for me it's the right way to go. It's fresh and they have their own unique style that you could walk into CEX and hear it blasting out and go, “Yep! That's Kris Barass!”
'Wake Me When It’s Over' was written during covid and highlights some of the battles we are going through at the moment. It starts with a very haunting guitar solo and it brings the mood down from rock and heavy to a more gentle tone. You are left hanging on to every note. Then Kris comes in and his rawness and the lyrics just grab you and take you on the journey the song is all about. I could see this being used in a film like 'Top Gun' etc.
People who had left due to the previous songs being too heavy missed such an amazing song that had your hairs standing up on edge with the haunting vocals of Kris and the haunting sounds coming out of the guitars coming together just was unreal. This was one of my favourite songs of the night.
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'Hostage' is recognizable by the sirens and a rumble of thunder and then into a heavy rock song. At times, the cymbals were over the top on sound, but the song was one that deserved to be played on a bigger stage of hardcore metal fans. I like the mixture of rock to heavy rock and back to ballads and back to heavy rock. It makes for an interesting night of music.
It's what it says on the tin 'Chaos'. A mixture of hard rock with some more mellow moments. It wasn't my favourite song of the night but still it was good and showed that the band are more hardcore rock now.
'Devil You Know' was one of the songs the crowd were fully involved in. From start to finish it was a song that showed the vocals of Kris and how he likes to include the fans. By now, we all knew what the band expected of us and we didn't fail in that in fact we gave it 110%. The guitar solos were yet again right on point and added a twist to the song.
'Watching Over Me' starts with a soft guitar intro. Kris talks about his dad and how he started out with his dad who passed away at 54 yrs old. His dad never got to see him play at the level he is now. He went onto say that he started Kris Barass band in memory of his dad. This is a very raw song and you can see how personal it is to Kris. The vocals and guitar solos are yet again very haunting. You need to know the lyrics to truly understand how deep this song is.
When it came to covering :e Zeppelin's Rock N Roll' it seemed out of place in the set. Going from such a haunting song to this didn't feel right to me. But as they say we all have different tastes etc. This showed off the band's skills playing some amazing solos. It got the crowd going again and this is what it's all about.
'Who Needs Enemies' starts off with a heavy intro and keeps going at a fast pace. Depending on your taste and your feelings of where Kris Barass is heading, some will not feel this but those of us who like the way it's going will love it. Just another great song showing the skills of the band as a whole and how they still include the fans in singing along with them.
'My Parade' is a great song no matter what way it's played. Acoustic gives it’s very Western film style Song but when it's played like it was tonight it’s heavy rock and the crowd instantly love it. During the song Kris Barass splits the crowd, jumps in and gets the crowd singing certain parts of the song. This goes down well and Kris then decided to ask someone in the crowd for a drink of their beer; they give him some, it went down well as did the beer.
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What a show it's been and the encore is immediately started as the band went off stage. When the band played " Light It Up" I felt it should have been the song the band should have used to go off stage for the encore and then played My Parade' as the final song. But that's my own personal taste. Yet again another great song and as the night ends we all leave Epic Studios after an EPIC night of entertainment.
I for one feel we will be seeing a lot more of Kris Barass Band!
By Paul 'Animal' Hampson