Review: Dermot Kennedy @ Thekla



'Each song he performed showcased the competence of his live voice, being able to move seamlessly between the quiet verses and punchy choruses.' Francesca Frankis reviews Dermot Kennedy, live at Thekla.

Since his first EP Dancing Under Red Skies in 2013, Dermot Kennedy has gone on to release a string of singles and more recently, his latest follow up EP, Doves and Ravens. In all honesty, having not heard much of him but a few YouTube videos, I went to the gig without any preconceived expectations. Yet, the performance he gave revealed not only his raw talent for songwriting but how far he has come in developing and honing in on his own sound since his initial EP release.

The most outstanding feature for me was that the gig felt very intimate. Given this was partly due to the nature of Thekla as a smaller venue but, Dermot’s interaction with the crowd from the start felt like almost like a conversation between old friends. Between each song, he would give a backstory, like revealing that ‘Boston’ was unintentionally written in only 2 days. There tended to be a limbo between heavier more energetic tracks like ‘Moments Passed’, and the softer sounds of ‘A Closeness’ and ‘Shelter’. Each song he performed showcased the competence of his live voice, being able to move seamlessly between the quiet verses and punchy choruses.

Whilst listening, I thought it was clear that Dermot Kennedy takes inspiration from artists like Ben Howard and James Blake. Although these inspirations can be heard in his music, I think that most importantly, Dermot is moving towards cementing his own style into the mix. His performance of ‘Glory’, happened to be his last song of the night, and it signalled a loud reaction from the crowd, whilst being in my opinion, one of his most accomplished tracks. The electronic drums which were almost hip-hop in sound, paired nicely with his live guitar part. At times, I was finding it difficult to differentiate between some of Dermot’s songs, but I wonder if this is perhaps something that comes with discovering your sound as an artist. Especially as, when he played songs from his latest EP, they proved to be far more developed and diverse.

When the lights came back on and people began shuffling out of Thekla, I thought more about the gig and came to realise that it was one of the most genuinely down to earth performances I’ve seen. When I got out I could hear chants from inside - “we want more!”’. people were desperate for an encore. Was this a sign of an overly eager crowd or a great performance? In Dermot Kennedy’s case, I think it was the latter.

Featured image: Facebook / Dermot Kennedy

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