Live Review – Dermot Kennedy

SWG3 – 01.10.19

I think it’s safe to say over the last four years Dermot Kennedy has massively matured and developed as an artist. From starting out as a young Irishman playing the occasional gig in his home county Dublin in 2015, to embarking on worldwide tours, playing at international festivals, participating in Radio 1 Live Lounge and releasing songs that have charted in the UK, Ireland and US this year. 

Despite his prolific growth in the last few years, Dermot has managed to maintain his charismatic, modest disposition both on stage and off stage. His album launch show for ‘Without Fear’, on 1st October 2019, at SWG3 in Glasgow was a prime example of the fact that he has not lost touch in spite of all of this.

SWG3 has a history of being an amazing venue for live music, with its halls encased by echoing high ceilings and towering concrete walls. The acoustic quality of the environment paired with the raw expression of emotion within Dermot’s folk/rock soulful voice created an atmosphere of nostalgia within the audience. 

Dermot’s humble, level-headed air shone through not just his vocal performance, but also through the intervals between each song. He introduced and thanked his band members with courtesy and warmth. His introductions and backstories to songs such as Outnumbered, After Rain and Redemption and his inclusion of the crowd in singing After Rain plus his genuine, stirring voice, altogether helped to define Dermot’s humble, sensitive musical personality. His attempts to include his audience on a personal level like this, as well as vocally (by asking them to sing along for parts) cultivated his intimate atmosphere.

The last time I saw Dermot was two years ago at Stereo, also in Glasgow. This venue has a capacity of 300 people, rather than 1300 in SWG3’s Galvanisers Hall. The smaller venue was perhaps more suited to Dermot’s style and persona at this time. However, now that he is performing (and selling out) much larger venues, it could be said that the old Dermot, who played more low key gigs, has grown into a more mature version of himself. A new Dermot, a more self-confident and established Dermot. His acoustic development over these last few years has evolved to be more electronic/rock based than his older folk style before. Therefore choosing to play at SWG3 rather than Stereo was perhaps representative of his musical progression, due to its acoustic potential.

Despite the changes and developments within his music and lifestyle over the last few years, it is clear that Dermot has still remained true to himself. I came away from this gig feeling an odd mixture of nostalgia and excitement for the release of Dermot’s new album and for everything else he has in store for us in the coming years.

[Ciara Vernon, she/her]

[Photo credit: SWG3]

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