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REVIEW: Dermot Kennedy @ The Haunt, 17/02/2018

The Verse’s Lottie Wilson tells us what she thought of Dermot Kennedy at The Haunt on Saturday 17th February 2018.

The Haunt was suitably busy for a Saturday night, with a queue formed before the doors were open. Dermot Kennedy had returned from the European leg of his tour, and was preparing to perform for his British fans. Whilst his success could warrant a larger venue, the intimacy of The Haunt was perfect for the singer-songwriter’s sound.

Jack Vallier (Supporting Act)

The night began with support from Jack Vallier. The Bournemouth-born singer self-released his debut track Rebekah in 2017, and is now signed to Method records. Warming up the crowd, Vallier joked and laughed, revealing that his EP was written about a Brighton resident who could ‘even be in the audience’. Whilst his EP is reminiscent of Jack Garrett, an electric sound with soulful lyrics, his Brighton performance was stripped back. Standing alone with his guitar Vallier sang the story of his lost love and won over the crowd. Whilst he may be new to performing, he certainly gained many fans at The Haunt. He even gave out free copies of his EP to ensure he wouldn’t be forgotten. I’d recommend listening to his track Change Your Mind to get a glimpse of his beautiful performance.

Dermot Kennedy

Dermot Kennedy was a delight to watch.  Without as much as a hello, the set began and it become apparent that this was no ordinary gig. The cool blue lights bounced off the band and the crowd was submerged in darkness. All attention was on the stage. With the support of Kieran Jones and Jonny Coote on keys, back up vocals and guitar, and Micheál Quinn on drums, Kennedy performed his well-loved tracks. His most recent single, Moments Passed was received remarkably well and the audience joined in with the chorus.

Mid-guitar change, another fan shouted that he didn’t expect it to be this good – it’s true, Kennedy was incredible. Somewhat sadly the audience were almost too enthusiastic. His honest anecdotes between songs were constantly interrupted by cheers and drunken declarations of love. Whilst I’m sure Kennedy loved all of the support, it was difficult to hear the backstory to his songwriting. However, the singer-songwriter succeeded at commandeering the room, asking for quiet so that he could divulge about his music. Whilst great to hear about his personal life, it was also interesting to understand the technicalities of releasing music. Kennedy revealed that Boston was a late addition to the EP, a song that was never planned but had to be included.

With the added surprise of new tracks at this gig, Kennedy is surely set for another great year. His newest offerings are typically poetic but include heavy beats perfect for the summer season.  He’ll be on the festival circuit, so make sure to see him if you’re heading to Sound City or Parklife.


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