Gig Review: Dermot Kennedy, Rough Trade NYC

Dermot Kennedy

This is a post I didn’t think I would be writing for a very long time. I’ve been absolutely itching to see Dermot Kennedy perform live for a very long time, ever since I heard Boston on my Spotify suggestions. Quite like Lewis Capaldi with a voice that you just need to hear live, only without the comedy between songs.

I had researched when Dermot Kennedy would be performing live in New York just before I moved, but of course all of his shows were already sold out and there was no way of getting tickets for cheaper than $200. So I gave up.

Then a few weeks ago, he announced a new North American tour happening in March next year so I went ahead and grabbed a single ticket to see him perform at Radio City Music Hall. I had never been to a concert on my own before buying these tickets, but thought, I’m in New York, I’m desperate to see Dermot Kennedy perform live, so the embarrassment of going to a concert alone isn’t going to stop me.

So just a few weeks back when I got tickets to see Dermot Kennedy in March, I was thrilled. I was only five months away from seeing one of my favourite artists live for the first time. But then something very magical happened and two weeks ago, out of the blue, I was standing in Brooklyn, in a room of 50 people, watching Dermot Kennedy perform live for free.

How I scored the tickets

I owe a huge thanks to the world of social media. I often bash it and call it out, but at times like these, I wonder what the world would be like without them. Dermot Kennedy had tweeted about his upcoming US tour that’s taking place this week and I had replied jokingly (but also serious) whether there would be any spare tickets for Brooklyn.

I received a DM from a random girl asking if I was going to be in New York that night (not for the concert that was in a few weeks which I found quite strange) so I said yes, why? She had a spare ticket to see him in a record store that night in Brooklyn where he was doing an album signing and performing a few songs.

I had heard about the record store show the week previous but by the time I heard, all the tickets had gone. Plus the doors opened at 5.30pm in Brooklyn and I didn’t finish work until 5pm, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it.

BUT this girl was giving me a free ticket for that night and there was no way I wasn’t going to be in that room with Dermot Kennedy. So at 4pm, I was Googling how I was going to get to the record store on time and to my surprise it was only going to take me 25 minutes to get there from work. Result.

So at 4.50pm, I was out the door and headed to Brooklyn with nothing but an order number as my ticket hoping that I would get in but thinking I more than likely wouldn’t.

I walked into the record store and there was a small queue to enter the back room of the store and a smaller queue at the front desk to collect tickets. The guy at the front asked me for my surname on the order and of course I didn’t know it and the girl I had got the ticket from wasn’t responding to my DMs, so I thought it was all over for me. But I think he noticed how gutted I was and said that the order number would do and put on my wristband and handed me the physical album to take in with me.

And then all of a sudden I felt sick to my stomach as I was about to see Dermot Kennedy perform live in a tiny room in a record store by myself and it was going to be the best half an hour of my life.

What a voice

I thought I had heard one of the best voices ever when I saw Lewis Capaldi live, but good God, Dermot Kennedy was something else. When I say I can’t get over how good he was, I really can’t get over it. I’ve watched my videos back about 100 times already because I can’t cope with how good he was live. He sounds exactly like the recordings, if not better.

I think we’ve reached a new era of music where talent is much more important than gimmicky, manufactured pop. If you think back to the 2000s/2010s, it was all about Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Westlife, Justin Bieber and (as much as it pains me to say) One Direction. People that had their songs written for them, auto-tuned beyond belief and dance moves to accompany every track.

But now we’ve got the likes of Dermot Kennedy, Lewis Capaldi and Picture This who write their own songs, can hold a pretty good note and just stand and sing. At the Brooklyn show, Dermot Kennedy noted how quiet the crowd was but we were literally hanging on his every word and just wanted to hear his voice.

I listen back to the album now and imagine I’m back standing in that record store because it sounds exactly the same.

Without Fear

Quick confession, the album had come out the Friday before I went to see him play and I hadn’t actually gotten around to listening to it yet. I hardly have a spare minute to breathe in New York never mind listen to an entire album in one sitting so please do forgive.

On the night, he sang An Evening I Will Not Forget, Rome, Power Over Me, Lost, Outnumbered and a few others from the new album. After finally listening to said album, I can confirm that there isn’t one bad song on the whole thing.

When it comes to albums, I always have an issue. There are songs that make it as singles and then there are the few extra average ones that are the songs I refer to as ‘fillers’. These are songs that make up the numbers but are quite mediocre at best. To me, if you’re going to release an album, shouldn’t every song have the potential to be a single?

Not many people listen to full albums these days since we don’t go out and physically buy them anymore. The only recent albums that I’ve fully liked are Dua Lipa’s self-titled album, Harry Styles’s also self-titled album and Modern Love by Picture This.

However, I’ve been listening to Dermot Kennedy’s Without Fear album on repeat for the past two weeks and I’m not even kidding, every song on the album is beautiful and if you haven’t listened, I really suggest you do. If you don’t have enough time to listen to the full thing, my favourites are Rome, An Evening I Will Not Forget, All My Friends, Outgrown and Dancing Under Red Skies.

All I can say is that if anyone reading this has a spare ticket for his show in Brooklyn tomorrow night, please do a gal a favour and pass it along. But failing that, roll on March!


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