Rock ‘n’ Roll was gospel at Church on Friday night as Kris Barras and his band rolled into Dundee serving a feast of shredding guitar solos and heavy blues.
Dundonian six piece Emerald Sunday opened the evening with their polished alternative rock melodies. Outstanding guitar playing seemed to be the theme throughout the night and both guitarists Matt Fleming and Alan Hunter showed their skills and set the tone. Singer Mike Martin really shone with a voice that would rival anyone you’d find in the rock charts. Emerald Sunday have been performing for 15 years now and have three albums under their belt so it’s no surprise that they put in a thoroughly professional performance. You can catch Emerald Sunday alongside Kris Barras again at BonFest in Kirriemuir, Angus at the end of April.
Belfast duo Dea Matrona were up next. The band name means “divine mother goddess” in Celtic mythology, I’ll have to take their word on that one. The two old friends Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsythe shared bass and guitar duties, swapping regularly and showcasing their respective skills and lead vocal duties were also shared between the two. Despite being a duo and although they were joined on stage by a drummer, Dea Matrona were certainly not any less rock ‘n’ roll than anyone else on the bill this evening. Latest single ‘Get My Mind Off’ is their first release of 2023 and we can expect to see more later on in the year. Dea Matrona will be back in Scotland next month, supporting Foo Fighters member Chris Shiflett at St. Lukes’ in Glasgow.
The latest album from Kris Barras, ‘Death Valley Paradise’ is a much heavier brand of rock than his previous outings. Two thirds of his setlist came from this album so it was certainly a joy for the rockers in attendance. Out width that album, Barras opened with ‘Hail Mary’ from his 2018 album ‘The Divine and he Dirty’ and there was a reworked version of 2016’s ‘Heart on Your Sleeve’. Also from the 2018 album, Barras delivered an emotional performance of ‘Watching Over Me’, a song written after losing his father to cancer. Barras spoke in length about his father, his biggest inspiration, who taught him how to play guitar at just five years old. So it came as no surprise just how talented a guitarist Barras is.
It wasn’t just Barras’ musical talent on show. The band all got a chance to show off during a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’. After an extended solo by Barras himself, his band all took turns to play their own solos. Towards the end of his set, Barras leaped into the crowd to lead the chanting of the chorus of ‘My Parade’ and eventually ending the evening with ‘Ignite (Light It Up)’. Barras’ talent as both a guitarist and singer are undoubtable but he’s also an outstanding frontman, a born entertainer. How the band leader interacts with the crowd can distinguish a good show from a great one and Barras certainly knows how to make it a great show.