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Heathers - McHughs, Belfast

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ATL | 17:51 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2012




Heathers, Tokyo Empire
McHughs, Belfast
Friday 28th September

Before Ellie and Louise (aka Heathers) take to the stage we have Strabane based outfit Tokyo Empire treating us to a confident and impressive performance. Chris Sharkey has a strong presence and has a vocal quality not dissimilar to Brandon Boyd. We are treated to a few lively and upbeat tracks filled with bouncy melodies throughout. For an up and coming band they have a professional, established feel about them. These boys know their music and on this showing there is some real promise.

It is no time at all before Heathers take to the stage and they are warmly received by a busy and enthusiastic audience. It is four years since their debut album ‘Here, Not There’ hit shelves and they have just released their sophomore effort ‘Kingdom’, with this evenings set based primarily on the latter.

We kick off with ‘Circular Road’ and it only takes a few seconds to realise that the time in the studio has been well spent. Whilst they retain the hooky pop from the first album, the new songs have an edgier feel, with leanings towards a new electro sound. ‘Lions, Tigers, Bears’ is the perfect example, a sleek, well polished, song that has pulsating beats working in tandem with a melodious and pacy keyboard. Quite a departure from what we are used to but the applause suggests this is a new direction we can get used to.

‘Flight’ continues the theme of versatility this evening with a song as beautiful as it is simple with Ellie and Louise harmonising effortlessly using only a piano to drive the song. Fans of the first album are then treated to ‘Remember When’ and ‘Reading In The Dark’, both a  return to the bittersweet indie with ear-catching hooks and harmony.

Ellie showcases her velvety tones with a beautiful cover of Lana Del Reys ‘Summertime Sadness’. The complimentary nature of the sisters voices is a real delight with ‘Forget Me Knots’ being a highlight of the night. Ellie purrs along the lower scales whilst Louise reaches the difficult high notes with consummate ease. 

Set closer ‘Find A Way’ is a mix of the old with the new. We have punchy acoustic guitars that make way for pounding drums and throbbing bass lines. The band goes off to a great applause and this evening has shown that all the hard work in the studio crafting a more rounded sound is well worth the effort. These girls are reaching something near their potential and their star only looks certain to rise even further.

David Smith



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