The Sisterhood with special guests Laura Oakes and Catherine McGrath
Monday 28th November 2016
The Lexington, King’s Cross, London, United Kingdom
Supplied By Artist
We had reasonably high hopes for this show as we set off on a cold night for London. What we didn’t know was that the was to be The Sisterhood’s first-ever London headline appearance or that this would turn out to be a highlight of the year.
The evening opened with the charming Irish singer-songwriter Catherine McGrath who had opened Bob Harris and family’s splendid Under The Apple Tree festival day at Cadogan Hall. Playing solo with her acoustic guitar for this show, she seemed a little nervous, timid maybe. But no matter, her songs sustained the set and included the lovely Cinderella and her take on Rascal Flatts’ Elsworth. She has loved country music since age 12 she informs us so many recent influences are there but like Una Healy she is finding her own style from traditional roots. The bitter lyric of Hell Would Have To Freeze Over is still delivered sweetly. A song written not long after her relocation to the metropolis Never Want To Fall In Love poured on the sadness. An early co-write about travelling in Drive was somewhat brisker and warmer. She should have left the stage after reminding us all of her name and again thanking the sound engineer, who had helped her out with tuning the guitar. But these omissions didn’t spoil a supremely tuneful and easy on the ear collection of songs.
Laura Oakes played acoustic guitar, sang with force and beauty and was accompanied by a lively percussionist and a bearded chap playing slide with a steel bar, upright on his lap. Resplendent in an alluring gold top, black hotpants and tights and with a striking shade of red hair, Laura delivered a feast of great selections from her own songbook. The listing took in her Snakes & Ladders, put over with feeling, Lazy which was a mellow piece written by her bass player and her latest single Dream. The sound balance and quality was exceptional, as it was throughout the whole evening. Professing to an early love of Elton John’s music, she added a version of one of his classic hits and it fitted the vibe of her show very well, with neat slide figures and a steady beat. Looking cool and sounding fine, a satisfying spot and well-paced, too.
This – for a change – a decent and respectful audience, giving every act a fair hearing and not talking incessantly about themselves. Now if that had been the end of the evening’s entertainment, nobody would have been upset – however…
The Sisterhood comprises Ruby Stewart, singing daughter of Rod Stewart (‘The RodFather’ as the girls refer to him and the gorgeous Kelly Emburg) plus her musical sparring partner Alyssa Bonagura whose voice is strikingly different AND whose strident guitar chording drove the duo’s set along. Circumstances could have put the girls in a bad frame of mind – all their gear was stuck in Sheffield and they had to borrow instruments, even their clothes were up in South Yorkshire ! But soldier on they did, their sense of humour and ease with the audience being just two of the pluses of the show. Which was their headlining debut in London, so quite an occasion. Now when either of these ladies sing, it’s a cathartic experience. When they BOTH sing you are transported to harmonic celestial heaven, believe me. They lay If It Ain’t The Right Fit on us ; Tethered is a magnificent foray into fraught relationships. For every song the guitar playing is strong, fluid and inventive but more than that, Alyssa uses the arcane guitar tunings sometimes favoured by David Crosby and of course Joni Mitchell, the shining star to all country, folk and Americana chanteuses. The song The Fire is enthralling with its knowing lyric and singing that is beyond glorious. Apparently Rod suggested they form an act and thank goodness he did. Closing In From Miles Away underlines that fact that they have already attained a melodic strength that stands up well in concert and on radio.
Ruby harangues her kid sister Renee to fetch her a tequila, Alyssa displays a great Scouse accent (having lived in Liverpool), a display of cellphone lights is suggested and attained, Ride from their new EP is a stirring rocker rich in harmonies. They even throw in a Rod gem towards the end of their set. They say they are taking thirteen songs into the studio in January so we can hope for a fulfilling album, hooray for that!
The only communal singing anywhere near tonight’s performance that I have heard in recent weeks is Charlotte Church’s Pop Dungeon soul and funk extravaganza at The Roundhouse and this duo show is up there with CC for power and galvanisation of an audience. All in all, a great night out AND running on time…
The Sisterhood’s debut EP is out now. For more information visit their official website here: http://www.thesisterhoodband.com/
For more information on Laura Oakes you can find her official website here: http://lauraoakesmusic.com/
For more information Catherine McGrath go to her official Twitter here: https://twitter.com/imcathmcgrath