From the exterior it is the majestic St Stephen’s Unitarian Church, but upon entering, it is the quaint, dreamscape Pepper Canister concert venue and home to Derry native, SOAK’s ethereal voice for the night. Not the first musical talent to originate from the Ulster city- Ireland’s Call composer Phil Coulter, singer-songwriter Paul Brady and Girl’s Aloud’s Nadine Coyle are all Derry-born- but Bridie Monds Watson, better known as SOAK to you and I, is undoubtedly the most exciting new act to emerge in recent times.
With the fading evening sunlight gliding its way through the ornate stain-glass windows of our venue, the stage is set for the 19 year old’s raspy Northern tones. Opening to a wolf whistle from the crowd, SOAK launches into one of her earlier LP’s after simply declaring to the audience “I’m SOAK”, in her signature unassuming manner. Her intense rendition of folk-influenced, ‘blind’, mesmerises the audience, while her easy transfer into the more upbeat ‘Blud’ is welcomed by more light-hearted fans. Paired back cymbals and fretwork allow SOAK’S voice to ring out in the spiritual venue, while the impressive bloody red lighting reflects the song’s title. As this is only the Derry woman’s second night being accompanied by a band, she urges the crowd to chant the “Come on, come on” chorus of ‘B a nobody’ and to ignore any awkward dancing she may engage in. Perhaps slightly swallowed up by the clashing drums of the band during this number, the poignant yearning of a teenager is still evident in her performance. Regularly engaging with the crowd, SOAK makes reference to our recent Marriage Equality Referendum and jokes that a journalist once said to her “If fundamentalist Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants can unite together against Gay Marriage, at least that’s peace right?”
With ‘Wait’ a stand-out performance, the 19 year old leaves the stage before returning to sing signature track, ‘Sea Creatures’. A magical and upbeat ending to an at times intense gig, the audience are awakened from their trance upon SOAK’s final departure from the stage, left yearning for her next performance in the capital.