REVIEW: Dermot Kennedy @ The Brighton Dome, 09/12/2019

Best known for his successful 2019 single Outnumbered, Irish singer Dermot Kennedy outdid himself with the performance of a lifetime for his fans at the Brighton Dome on Monday night.

Before doors opened at 7 pm, a massive crowd stood outside Brighton Dome in the bitter winter air waiting to be let in to see singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy perform his new album Without Fear live at his sold out show on Monday 9th December. Whilst standing in line, two girls came around to each member of the audience with boxes full of colourful origami birds. They were handing one out to each person to hold up when Dermot’s song Rome was performed. I am still unsure whether it was a concept created by his fans or Dermot Kennedy himself. However, if it was the former, the sentiment was extremely touching. Clearly, his fans are well and truly devoted to this singer, and if you go to one of his gigs, or even listen to his album, you’ll know why.

Touring with Dermot Kennedy was his guest act Lilla Vargen who came on stage at 8 pm and performed some songs from her new EP We Were Thunder which is out now on Spotify. Lilla received a very warm welcome from the audience as her sweet but powerful voice rang throughout the concert hall. With only a keyboard player (Jake Richardson) and drummer (Colin Lyons), her songs were simple yet beautiful, containing melancholic lyrics of relationships, love and heartbreak.

Her songs truly connected with the audience- my personal favourites of her set being Solitary and Blueprints. When listening to her perform, I was reminded of singers like Nina Nesbitt and Freya Ridings- so if this is a style of particular interest to you, definitely check her out.  

Dermot Kennedy took the stage at 9 pm, to an impressive reception of loud cheers and applause, opening his set with the first song on his album, An Evening I Will Not Forget. Immediately, the audience joined in with enthusiasm and continued to sing along through the night, with special encouragement from the Irish singer himself on particularly popular songs on his album like All My Friends, Rome and Power Over Me. His performance was one of the best I had seen live, with his gravelly, deep voice completely identical to the recordings on his album.

This heartfelt performer refuses to turn to an American inflexion in his songs, in favour of his Irish lilt that brings forth this sense of warmth and comfort, making his music memorable and individual. His lyrics are honest and poetic. In between songs, he would introduce each piece with the inspiration behind it. It became apparent that the majority of songs, if not the entire album, were influenced by home, comfort, love and hope. The words contain a juxtaposition of light and dark, with declarations of optimism and devotion in an attempt to work through tough situations in life.

Working alongside a three-piece band, the music was a mix between hip-hop, acoustic and sometimes even veering on spoken word which made the entire set feel so heartfelt and passionate. Ending the set with a song called After Rain, which is not on the album, Dermot boosted the audience to sing along with the line “You won’t go lonely, yeah” which created such a poignant moment, with everyone joining together in a moment of solidarity and encouragement.

His set was a performance in every sense of the word. Accompanying each song were different artistic screen projections of nature, with a particular interest in faces, woods and birds. The designs were completely unique, and when paired with each song brought forth a sense of sorrow, fear and yet, hope. When performing All My Friends, cameras panned across the audience, projecting on the screen behind him giving this sense of intimacy, friendship and togetherness between us and him.

The audience was absolutely incredible, with the atmosphere so energetic and full of love towards Dermot as he performed for us. He left with a standing ovation from everyone in the stalls and tumultuous cheers from the entire hall. He even posted onto Instagram addressing the Brighton crowd, captioning the post:

“Thank you so much Brighton!! That room was so special, and you made it such a lovely night! I’m feeling very tired after a pretty crazy few days, but you lifted my spirits! It was great to see you! X”

Like Dermot himself said, it was a lovely night and was definitely An Evening I Will Not Forget.

To buy tickets for Dermot Kennedy’s tour please visit: http://www.dermotkennedy.com/tour

Charley Gale

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