Saint Sister at Lost Lane, Dublin, 26 April 2019
Since releasing their debut album ‘Shape of Silence’ last year, Saint Sister have been pretty busy playing gigs from Montreal to Melbourne. But tonight sees the Northern Irish duo return to Dublin for a sold-out show in the city’s newest live music venue, Lost Lane.
Opening with the buoyant Twin Peaks, Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre take centre stage behind harp and synthesiser. It’s an upbeat start to the show, before the pair gradually move into darker, more sombre territory with Tin Man, Causing Trouble and Corpses.
In this intimate setting, the audience can experience the full force of Saint Sister’s unique style, which has continued to evolve since the group formed four years ago. It’s a style that blends elements of traditional Irish folk with influences from the likes of pop and minimalism, and a focus on what can be achieved when two voices are deftly and delicately combined.
“This is what intimate gigs are for,” Doherty says, before the pair slide into goosebump-inducing covers of The Bangles’ Eternal Flame and The Cranberries’ Dreams. This is where their haunting, ethereal vocals really shine, causing a hush to come over the room, so quiet that you can hear the clinking of glasses at the bar.
But there are also plenty of less quiet moments throughout the evening. For several songs the duo are accompanied by percussion and bass, helping to fill the entire space with their unique atmospheric sound – from the lush layers and backbeats of Madrid, to the head-bopping but heartbreaking You Never Call, and the silky smooth vibe of Steady.
When it comes to an encore, most groups tend to save a few of their biggest hits in an effort to go out with a bang. But Saint Sister aren’t most groups. The duo return to the stage at the end of the night with Blood Moon – a moody, marching throwback to their very first EP from 2015 – before closing the evening with a stripped-back rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark.
At first, it seems like a strange choice, but the haunting performance draws the audience into a serene, intimate moment with the band. After more than an hour in Saint Sister’s company, this quiet finale further highlights Doherty and MacIntyre’s musical chops, and their keen ability to keep a crowd mesmerised.