Heathers leave audience hungry for more

(Jody Waardenburg -- Lead Photographer)
(Jody Waardenburg — Lead Photographer)

It would be an understatement to say that the past couple of years for Ellie and Louise Macnamara, of the Irish band Heathers, have been a landmark time in their musical careers. In 2012, they released their sophomore album Kingdom; a particularly monumental moment for the band as they got to work with producer Max Dingel who has worked with popular indie band White Lies.

“Max, our producer, was just fantastic because he really had so much control over exactly what kind of sound we [wanted] … he seemed to be in the same mind frame as we were in terms of what we wanted,” Ellie remarked.

 “A lot of the songs are kind of us talking about ourselves, along with talking to other people and basically reassuring ourselves that everything is going to be okay,” continued Ellie on their songwriting style.

The sisters have not shown any sign of slowing down as they embark on their second Canadian tour this year, which opened in Waterloo at Starlight Social Club on Tuesday October 22.

Heathers were opened by Dan Griffin & The Regrets, whose music put the audience in a tranquil, blissful state as the beautiful acoustic guitar and Griffin’s warm voice emanated off the stage.

Songs such as “She’s the Drug” and “Stars and Satellites” were a true reminder of the beauty in simplicity. Dan Griffin had a genuine humbleness to him as he thanked the audience, Starlight, and most of all, his parents for coming and listening to his performance.

Many critics have exclaimed that this resurgence of folk music has become way too overdone and boring. However, Griffin was a reminder on how heartrending the rawness of folk music can be.

As soon as Heathers came on stage, the mood of the audience was completely transformed. Immediately, it became clear that these two girls had a stage presence that could captivate an audience whether or not they were familiar with their music.

Louise and Ellie had very different ways of connecting with the audience and neither one less entrancing to watch.

Louise stood to the side of the stage passionately playing her guitar while Ellie danced around the stage belting out the lyrics to their songs. The girls’ enthusiasm on stage demonstrated their authenticity and emotional connection they have to each song they played.

Ellie commented on this connection, particularly in relation to “Forget me Knots” and how writing and performing allows you to use your own issues to help other people overcome their own struggles.

“I think when we were writing [Forget me Knots] … a lot of the time you are … writing it for yourself… the stories we are telling are personal experiences and I never thought in the world this song would effect anyone.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of this performance was just how naturally talented these two young sisters were. The girls, despite having musical accompaniment, made it quite clear that they did not need help to indicate just how strong and beautiful their voices were.

During songs such as “Margie” and “Remember When” from their first album Here Not There, the only instrument used was Louise’s acoustic guitar. Their sound was just as full and powerful as when they had their band accompanying them.

It was hard to look away from Heathers as they continued to play songs like the empowering “Forget Me Knots,” “Flight” and, as an encore, the energetic “Gather Up.” Heathers performed with such passion that once the concert ended the audience was hungry for more. Ellie notes on this positive reception that she has experienced with Canadian audiences.

“The audiences over here are really nice and really into music which we appreciate.”

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