Pillow Queens @ Saint Luke's, Glasgow, 11 Jun

Dublin four-piece Pillow Queens close out their UK tour in front of an enthusiastic Glasgow crowd

Live Review by Zoë White | 14 Jun 2024
  • Pillow Queens

Just as Sarah Crean is about to perform the penultimate song of her support set for Pillow Queens at Saint Luke’s, her guitar amplification cuts out completely. Gone. It’s all but silent. Unable to fix the problem as she jokes easily with the audience, she resolves to sing a cappella. The crowd cheer encouragement and instantly start stamping out the beat of the song. Then, when Pillow Queens themselves come out and fill in the gaps with soft vocal harmonies, it’s striking how mutual love and support seem to ring around the room, between the performers, from the audience and back again. It’s a heart-warming, if unexpected moment which sends an undercurrent of good humour and solidarity coursing through the whole gig. 

When Pillow Queens return on stage for their main set, they waste no time in launching into the rattling drum roll of February 8th, their new album’s first track. The Dublin four-piece was founded in 2016 by vocalist and guitarist Pamela Connolly and bassist Sarah Corcoran who wanted to form a band made up of queer women. Across three albums they’ve garnered acclaim for their emotive melodies and noisy yet lyrical guitars. Their latest LP, Name Your Sorrow, was released back in April. 

From the album opener, drummer Rachel Lyons leads straight into the heavy stomp of last year’s single Suffer. Connolly’s vocals are elastic, stretching out vowels and moulding to whatever shape the song demands. They plumb the depths of the raw, moody verses and power upwards courageously in the song’s bridge. It’s then Corcoran’s turn to lead us into a new song, slipping smoothly into 2022’s Be By Your Side with a supple, seething bass riff. After the stormy first two tracks, this number lets in just a little bit of light in its hushed, delicate passages, and vulnerability in its pleading lyrics. 

Framed by the former church’s stained glass windows, the band comment on the beauty of the venue, which is the final stop on their UK tour, and its fittingness given the religious imagery they infuse into their music. With wailing, slicing, twisting lead guitar from Cathy McGuinness, the music certainly lives up to the grandeur of the surroundings. 

Each introduction seems louder and more thunderous than the previous. Last year’s single Gone opens with a towering wall of distortion, while McGuinness’s earth-shattering guitar chords hit like lightning bolts towards the end of Heavy Pour. While there are no major surprises in tonight’s renditions of the songs, the colours and textures are more vivid, more visceral than on the record.

But at the heart of the band’s music are the melodies, which could be translated across a hundred different genres and sound palettes and still deliver emotional impact, whether it’s slow-burners like Blew Up the World or the catchy choruses of Holy Show and Like A Lesson. As they encourage singing along for the upbeat Friend of Mine, it’s easy to see the joy that Pillow Queens get from playing their tunes before an enthusiastic crowd, and they reflect that warmth straight back at the audience.