Dea Matrona are here to make the most of their big chance. A massive UK tour – the way they used to be, you might say – putting them in front of a huge amount of potential new fans. It’s a chance they seen determined to take, too. The three piece are charismatic, and in effect have two frontpersons in Mollie McGinn and Orlaith Forsyth and it gives them a different flavour to many. They have a foot in the classic rock camp – Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” is chucked in early on for example  – but there’s enough crossover potential to explain why they’ve toured with artists as diverse as Gerry Cinnamon and Van Morrison. There’s a sense of fun on “It’s Only Music” while “Get My Mind Off” has a more serious side, while “So Damn Dangerous” has a proper groove. Dea Matrona means “divine mother goddess” in Celtic, and the hinted at tinge of folk is never too far away. “Glory Glory (I Am Free) sees the two out front with their acoustics, which they follow with Simon And Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”. The drummer returns to bring them to a full compliment for “Red Button” , which is a highlight that has just a flavour of Blues Pills, before the potential singalong of “Make You My Star”.  Dea Matrona are a band that is at the start of its career and which is young enough to do whatever it wants to do too. Where that goes, it will be interesting to see.

As the main set ends here, Kris Barras and his band are playing “My Parade”. The words ring loud like a mantra:  This is my parade. Fall into line or get out of my way. The man in the centre of all this splits the crowd into two and marches among them to decide who is the loudest (it’s right side as he looks – the opposite one to me as it happens), but it holds a greater truth. Those words sum KBB up it seems.

They are a fantastic rock band these days. Barras used to be a fantastic blues artist and there’s a couple of the early tunes here. One is a rocked up “Heart On My Sleeve” which is done like the Kris Barras Band in 2023. It’s brash, thick heavy rock n roll. And how it suits them and him.

The other is poignant as ever. “Watching Over Me”. The first song he ever wrote when he “followed his dream” as he put it and dedicated to his dad, who never saw him do music full time. The fact that doing this really does seem to be a dream is written all the way through this set, just the same as it always is.

For 90 minutes or so, the four piece is as good as any out there. New bassist Billy Kerslake brings the energy to go with the skill of Josiah J Manning and drummer Billy Hammett and the set, heavy on new material (and heavy in all senses of the word) from “Death Valley Paradise”, albeit it starts with “Hail Mary” an arena sized singalong from a slightly earlier album.

“Dead Horses” is an accurate signpost to what they do right now, but this is well paced. “Wake Me When It’s Over” – the last song written for the album and the only one to bring the pace down, does that role here brilliantly, which is balanced out by “Hostage”, a proper rock n roller and the single “Chaos”.

Skilled musicians, they enjoy themselves clearly with a jam on “Rock N Roll” and a pinch of “Carry On My Wayward Son”, but their own material is the bedrock this is built on. “Who Needs Enemies”, which is everything modern classic sounding rock should be.

There’s an encore after “…Parade” of “Ignite (Light It Up)” and it proves they’ve got a proper back catalogue, and as the pyro explodes and AC/DC blares as they leave, you reflect on a band that has changed so much over the last near decade, but perhaps are now the best version of themselves and the one they are perhaps happiest with.

Kris Barras Band are amongst the finest rock bands on these shores and it is live on stage where they seem most at home.  

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