The Girls Are Back in Town… Or that’s what reopening should have been called. Ireland’s been late to the party as far as reopening and getting rid of covid restrictions, but finally things are going back to how they were before and that makes me happy and feeling more hopeful and energetic. Live music was one of the things I missed the most in the last two years and I was happy to see there was a concert near me (like walking distance if I had to) that I was looking forward to going to for a while.
I found out about Belfast power trio Dea Matrona back in 2020 through Instagram and I really liked what I heard. I previously talked about them in my new music Summer 2020 blog post. Around that time they were scheduling dates for an Irish tour, but it kept getting pushed back because of covid. But finally it went forward in March and the wait was well worth it and I had an amazing time at the show and I was lucky enough to be able to chat to the very talented Mollie and Orláith. It was a pleasure! I know that Dea Matrona will go far so if you haven’t listened to them, drop everything and stream their music! It’s amazing!
Concert Review: Rowan and Dea Matrona
Up and coming Indie rockers Rowan were the opening act for this show in Limerick. They have a debut album coming out on 6 May called Does It Make You Happy. They played some songs from that album and their EP. Some of my favourites from their set were “Far From The Truth”, “Honesty”, “Big Wave”, and “Nothing’s Gonna Change”. Their music is very much like The Strokes and listening to it brings back a lot of nostalgia. The lead guitarist is incredibly talented and I really liked the tone and sound of the guitar. My husband said the bass was excellent and that the band reminded him of an indie band called Shadow of Whales.
Recently, they were part of Hot Press’s 50th anniversary tribute to Rory Gallagher’s solo debut album, Rory Gallagher The LP Revisited. Here’s a cover of the fan favourite “Laundromat”. Rory Gallagher’s one of the best guitarists ever and anyone who does a good cover is clearly talented.
Rowan praised headliners Dea Matrona saying they are excellent guitarists. Yes that’s a plural, not a typo! So how does a power trio have two guitarists? Where’s the bassist? Where’s the drummer? You’ll see.
Dea Matrona played an incredible set with a mix of classic rock covers and originals. As for a live show, it doesn’t get better than this and they have it all: chemistry, stage presence, guitar and bass skills, and great voices. The venue may have been small but they gave 110% and played like it was an audience of thousands. That’s professionalism and polish! The covers were all really well done and do the original musicians proud and show their skills. The coolest part is that Mollie and Orláith switch instruments in the middle of the set and it’s seamless and they both clearly mastered both bass and guitar. Incredible work! It’s really hard to pick a highlight from the show, as it was all amazing! Just a quick rundown of the covers: Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” (love that they do a cover from the Peter Green era), Rory Gallagher’s “Cradle Rock” (gotta represent Ireland), Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”, Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” (Cream don’t have the monopoly on power trios doing a great version of this song), Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love (if you do a good cover of Led Zeppelin, you’ve won my heart and respect), Van Morrison & Them’s Gloria (great garage rock standard, who doesn’t love this one?), and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” (Jimi would love it!). As for their originals, I loved “Just Wanna Rock” (from their Away From The Tide EP), “Stamp On It” (one of their most popular songs), “So Damn Dangerous (a newer one that hopefully we’ll see on an album), “Heart” (the first song the band wrote), and “Make You My Star”.
So good I had to get a signed vinyl! And yes they made it out to Angie Moon – which they quickly noticed was a tribute to the great drummer Keith Moon. And I got a picture with the band!
Here are a couple pictures from the show:
Interview: Dea Matrona
Angie: How did you guys get started?
Orláith: We met in school. We just started busking at the weekends when we could just to make some extra cash on the side and we just really loved it and then went from there we got offers for weddings and bar gigs and that’s where it all started.
Angie: In Belfast?
Orláith: Yeah, in Belfast.
Angie: How did you learn bass and guitar?
Orláith: I mean, we both played acoustic guitar from a young age and then when we became friends, Mollie started learning Led Zeppelin solos and then I started learning them as well and so we kinda learnt guitar together almost in a really cool way and then we started the busking and the gigs and that’s kinda when we started getting into music, when we started getting together.
Angie: How did you get into classic rock?
Mollie: I would say it’s probably from wanting to learn the guitar. You pick up the guitar and you’re like what’s the best thing to learn on guitar and it’s obviously Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix. It sort of went from there.
Orláith: It was quite organic. Sort of like learning guitar and taking classic rock influences.
Angie: Did you take lessons?
Orláith: No, never took guitar lessons.
Angie: So you were completely self-taught?
Mollie: Mostly, yeah. My dad played a bit of guitar so when I was younger, he would have showed me chords and stuff, but I feel like when I was about 16, 17 is when I started trying to play electric guitar on my own. So it was mostly helping each other.
Orláith: We both got the electric guitar bug.
Mollie: So we kinda helped each other out that way.
Angie: Explain the band’s name. What does the name Dea Matrona mean to you?
Orláith: We just loved the sound of it and we liked that it was Celtic so it’s like our Irish roots. We just like the sound of it as well.
Mollie: We had a lot of names in mind and we kept coming back to that one for months and we don’t necessarily go by the meaning, but we go by the vibe and we like how it feels. \
Orláith: We wanted a cool name.
Mollie: We like it.
Angie: What is the vibe of it to you?
Orláith: It means like Mother Earth and Divine Goddess so obviously it’s a lot to live up to but it’s like hippie kinda.
Mollie: It’s strength like isn’t it. There’s some strength in it.
Orláith: We sort of just picked a name. There wasn’t much meaning behind it, but we like it.
Angie: What are your influences?
Mollie: Definitely mostly stuff from the 60s and 70s. The big ones are Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, but we like a lot of contemporary stuff too. We like Royal Blood, Tame Impala, Greta Van Fleet, Haim, and Måneskin as well.
Angie: They’re [Måneskin] great! It’s so cool to see like a rock band win Eurovision last year.
Orláith: Yeah because I’ve been a Eurovision fan since I’ve been no height so to see a [rock] band do really well.
Mollie: To see all sound’s coming from four people, it’s so cool to see that again.
Angie: If you could tour with anyone who would it be?
Mollie: Paul McCartney.
Orláith: I would go with Fleetwood Mac.
Angie: Who’s your favourite musician you’ve seen live?
Orláith: Dolly Parton?
Mollie: I think seeing Stevie Nicks live was a real moment for me.
Orláith: The Red Hot Chili Peppers was actually the best gig of my life.
Angie: I saw during the show you were swapping instruments which is something very very unique. How do you adjust going between guitar and bass?
Mollie: I mean it’s different for sure but we use a short scale bass. So it makes it a wee bit easier, but we just grown up doing it. We’re quite used to it.
Angie: Who are your favourite Irish musicians?
Mollie & Orláith: I love Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, Imelda May.
Orlaith: I used to love Horslips when I was a kid.
Mollie: We like Inhaler as well.
Mollie & Orláith: There’s just so many. We like The Strypes and The Zen Arcade.
Angie: I saw The Strypes here in Dolan’s back in 2014. They were really really good.
Mollie & Orláith: They’re really good
Angie: What’s your favourite vinyl in your collection?
Orláith: My favourite vinyl is Buckingham Nicks. Do you know it?
Angie: Yeah! That is one of the best ‘flop’ albums because it didn’t do well [but it’s so good]. I wish they’d reissue it.
Orláith: Next year’s the 50th anniversary so they gotta do something. It’s my favourite album.
Mollie: I can’t think of just one. There’s so many albums I love. This is a hard one. I think Tapestry [Carole King album]?
Orláith: It’s definitely a really good one.
Angie: Recently you worked with an artist Jim Fitzpatrick who did all the artwork for Thin Lizzy [actually most of it, but you catch my drift – he also did the famous Che Guevara painting you see on those t-shirts]. How did you get in touch with him and how did that collaboration start?
Mollie & Orláith: I think it was through our manager. He liked our songs and our music and stuff. So it was really a mutual thing and he was into what we were doing and he wanted to come up with a logo for us. He actually designed the drumhead logo. It was really organic. Obviously that would be one to put down [for the favourite Irish musicians question], Thin Lizzy. I forgot about Thin Lizzy, they’re Irish. They’re one of our big ones.
Angie: They’re amazing! What’s your favourite Thin Lizzy album?
Mollie: Mine is Jailbreak I think.
Orláith: Probably Black Rose, yeah.
Angie: I love Black Rose.
Mollie & Orláith: We love Chinatown too. It’s hard to choose.
Angie: What’s the music scene like up in Belfast?
Mollie & Orláith: The music scene in Belfast is really diverse. There’s so many up and coming bands. There’s music everywhere all the time. There’s so much going on in Belfast. It’s a really really good city for music like traditional Irish music. There’s so many buskers all the time like when you’re just going shopping. Definitely, it’s a really good place for music.
Angie: Is there a lot of rock music too?
Mollie: Mostly like indie rock. There wouldn’t be as many bands that do the whole classic rock influence thing.
Mollie & Orláith: There’s a lot of really talented players there, definitely.
Angie: What are your goals for the year?
Orláith: Just play as many gigs as we can and try and release lots of music and keep working and keep doing what we do.
Mollie: We’re lucky that we have a lot of things coming up this year in Europe hopefully and just being able to stay busy, it’s the main thing.
Angie: What advice would you give someone who wants to learn guitar or bass?
Orláith: Just do it. Pick it up. Put on some of your favourite songs. Learn the bassline, the guitar solo.
Mollie: Just try and enjoy it. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Orláith: If you wanna do it, just do it.
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