Heathers in the Pepper Canister 12-12-2012 by Yan Bourke_03-banner

Heathers in The Pepper Canister Church on December 11th 2012

2012 has been a pretty successful year for Dublin twins Heathers. It saw the release of their second studio album, the critically acclaimed ‘Kingdom’ and two sold out Irish tours. Tomorrow they play the DCU Christmas Ball but tonight essentially ended their touring for the year and there aren’t many more beautiful venues to do so than Mount Street Crescent’s Pepper Canister Church. As the crowd filed through the narrow doorway one by one, they were greeted by a stunning stage set-up backlit in blue, which didn’t add much warmth to the sparsely heated room. The low temperature coupled with the prospect of sitting on church pews for the next three hours had many in attendance on edge for much of the long wait for the show to start, but all of that was quickly forgotten as a superb show began to unfold before their eyes.

It’s not often that one goes to a gig feeling just as, if not more excited by the prospect of seeing the support act than the headliner. Tonight was one of those nights. Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK was brought to the attention of this reviewer by Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody who predicted huge things for the 16 year old singer/songwriter from Derry. Based on tonight’s evidence, Lightbody’s tweet was an extreme understatement.

Having recently wowed critics at Other Voices in Dingle, SOAK continued to build upon her growing stature with a performance loaded not only with stunningly structured songs but also with the confidence and wit of a far more experienced performer whilst interacting with the audience. The maturity in Watson’s lyrical content is far beyond any expectation one could have of an artist her age, most evident in Explosions, Sea Creatures and her most popular track to date Fingers Crossed. In between tracks, SOAK has the audience in convulsions of laughter as her anecdotal chatter discusses topics as varied as Vaseline and performing for penguins. She leaves the stage to raucous applause and the crowd know they’ve witnessed the beginning of something special.

Despite SOAK’s brilliance, everyone soon remembers who they actually came to see and after a brief interval they get what they came for. Ellie and Louise, aka Heathers take to the stage accompanied by a full band, cello and all and burst into a fist pumping rendition of The Third Rail. The powerful beginning continues with Waiter which is taken to a whole new level thanks to the full band treatment in comparison to the stripped back version we were introduced to on the festival circuit a few years ago.

Halfway through the set, Ellie announces that their next song is a cover of Lana Del Rey’s Summertime Sadness. A beautiful song of course, which the harmonious twins certainly do justice to, but the decision to play a cover song is one which fails to impress. Any artist or act with two studio albums, especially two albums as quailty-laden as the two that Heathers have released shouldn’t have to rely on cover songs to fill their setlists. The lack of material from their first album on the night further emphasises this point. Perhaps the introduction of the full band means the girls are reluctant to play earlier songs which were recorded with a solo guitar. But when one sees bands such as Delorentos and Duke Special reworking whole albums to suit different settings, one begins to expect the same of others.

This is followed up by another cover, this one being entirely more acceptable given the time of year. You may know Carol of the Bells from its appearance on the classic Christmas film, Home Alone but Heathers have put their own spin on it and they improve it tenfold having been playing it for almost five years. A stomping version of Forget Me Knots soon follows and the crowd are once again eating out of the palms of their hands. One song which up to now hadn’t been given the treatment of a full band rendition was crowd favourite, “the one from some ad” as Louise proclaimed, Remember When. Tonight was the first night they had done so and it went down a treat. Drummer Boomer, as he is affectionately named, drives the song to a whole new level as it becomes unrecognisably upbeat and pulsatingly powerful.

Gather Up closes out the set before a brief encore of Underground Beneath finally sends the adoring fans on their way home filled with the sounds of rich harmonies and Christmas cheer. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was only one name on the lips of those in attendance as they flocked out into the cold winter night. SOAK had stolen the show.

Heathers Photo Gallery

Photos:Yan Bourke