I listen to a lot of music, like a lot, I mean, a lot. Everyday I try my best to find a new band or a new song that captures me and makes me feel something. Something new that will wrestle it’s way into my Spotify playlists. It seems a strange thing to say about a hobby, but sometimes it can become a bit tiring and monotonous (ironic), and it’s sometimes easy to get bored and fed up music as an art form as it loses it’s allure and magic. Then something happens and you remember all the reasons why music remains the most powerful art form for conveying the human condition, and why it is the closest thing that we have to magic.
The past two years have definitely been the time of Dublin singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy. The Rathcoole native continues to grow as an artist and is quickly reaching global superstardom, with a string of sold out tours and even names like Ellie Goulding willing to offer backing vocals to his most recent BBC Live Lounge set.
On the Sunday and Monday before Christmas last month (22nd and 23rd of December), Kennedy returned home to play two sold out nights in Ireland’s biggest indoor venue, the 3 Arena. It was clear that this was a big deal for Kennedy, and he definitely delivered.
This was the third time that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Dermot Kennedy perform live, and one of the most interesting things about his shows is the audiences that attend. As acts get bigger and bigger very often they can attract people who aren’t big fans of the audience and just want a night out to tell people about at work the next day, but this isn’t the case for Kennedy. Every song is always fully respected and every line is sang back with a gusto that makes you feel as though you are part of something bigger, and this was the case here again.
This was just a ludicrously good night of music. Dermot Kennedy has this amazing ability to make you feel every possible emotion across a show, it’s such a rare sensation to go from being in floods of tears during songs like An Evening I Will Not Forget and For Island Fires and Family (this fucking song KILLS me), and then going to dancing around and feeling hopeful and inspired during Redemption. There is also something about how Dermot Kennedy delivers his lyrics that leaves you in absolutely no doubt that he means every word that he is singing.
As well as the main man, the band that Kennedy is playing with are worthy of serious praise. Kieran Jones, Jonny Coote, and Micheál Quinn, are compelling sights on stage as they display the same passion and emotion through every song that is being shown by the front man. Quinn is rapidly generating a reputation as one of the best drummers in the world, and the cheer he gets when introduced at every show is testament to that… But then again, if you watch below, you’ll see why it’s justified.
Credit must also go to the support on the night, which came from Northern Irish singer/songwriter, Lilla Vargen. Playing a set to an audience this size must be incredibly daunting for any up coming artist, but we were treated to an extremely accomplished and enjoyable set. A fantastic display by Vargen and band, Jake Richardson and Colin Lyons.
It’s nights like this that make you feel that magic that only music can conjure. Through the night, Kennedy was able to make the audience in attendance feel as though every song was personally about them, often managing to make people feel numerous different emotions or stories in the same song. A post gig pub conversation brought up the relentlessly repeated line about how the performer has gone from busking five years ago to being one of the biggest names in music on the planet currently, if anything these gigs proved that he doesn’t even need to stop here. There is no limit to what this man could achieve and the influence he could have on future generations of musicians who can take faith in a man who didn’t sell out or change his ways – he just stayed true to what he does and trusted in the songs.
Thank you, Dermot.