Live Music + Gig Reviews

Sister @ Metro, London

13 July 2005

It’s not often that a band is indefinable. There are always comparisons to be made, marked similarities to be heard. But Sister confound.

London based, they are vocalist/guitarist Gema Banks, guitarist Alan McFeely, (ex-Young Offenders, Sultans of Ping), bassist Steve Hackett (ex-Young Offenders, Fuzz Light Years) and drummer Matt Jones, and their Metro show was a mesh of beautiful understatement, rock ‘n’ roll touched butterflies and deep down dirty baby sounds.

The set starts with Satellite, vocal melody heavy and with the beautiful Gema emoting with effect, voice crystalline. The basics of acoustic guitar and the basest of bass sound encircled her vocals to create a quietly simple but gorgeously effective opener.

The set soon took a darker turn with Wilted Flowers – something quite like country, almost. Gema’s vocal takes a darker, grainier tone and there is an unassuming shadow, a sad serenity that is then stomped on with a howl as McFeely and Hackett step up the guitars. But drummer Jones was always louche, chomping at the bit with purposed restraint.

Hey Hey It’s Alright is a gorgeous humdinger of a song. Just Gema, acoustic guitar, rhythmic clapping and a hook to delight that reminisces glam rock in the most unexpected of ways. The tone of the gig hits it high with Hell Keep Me Safe, vocals enhanced with a lovely double track effect and the guitar flanged to the max. “Just keep me safe,” Gema sings, sounding almost eccentric. But Sister are not eccentric, they are pervasive – a musical Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Maybe The Velvet Underground meets Patsy Cline, Patti Smith meets Kevin Ayers. Maybe, maybe not.

Certainly, a pure beauty meets the strangest of beasts, the indefinable casting touching shadows. You must see Sister.

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Sister @ Metro, London