Gig review: Dermot Kennedy at The Chapel, Leeds

Being name checked by Taylor Swift has never been bad for business. Yet it is not merely the 29 million Spotify streams that make Dermot Kennedy one to watch.

Dermot Kennedy
Dermot Kennedy

Taking to the stage of The Chapel, the sell-out crowd fell silent in anticipation. Taking his seat at the piano silently, Kennedy forewent the introductions and let his distinctive voice do the talking.

The first track of the set is ‘An Evening I Will Not Forget.’ It is a strikingly heartfelt song, made all the more poignant by the minimal acoustics. For any casual gig goers in the crowd, this opener will made them realise they’re about to witness something special.

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Kennedy’s new single ‘Moments Passed’ goes down a treat with the crowd. It’s an intriguing genre hybrid that lays Kennedy’s soulful singer-songwriter voice amongst a percussive R&B production.

Stripping back down to bare acoustics, the next track was ‘Shelter.’ Turning to the crowd, he said: “This one’s about wanting somebody or something and not letting it go once you get it.”

Staying at the piano, the next track ‘All My Friends,’ was a song fraught with fragility, depth and passion.

‘Glory’ went down an absolute storm with the crowd. The atmospheric track highlights the richness of his voice and provides prime opportunity for the crowd to roar the chorus back to him, which they do with no need for encouragement. The drummer, Micheál Quinn, got into it too, passionately belting out the track as though he were the lead singer himself.

He had a quick interlude to sing Happy Birthday to bassist Kieran Jones before the final track ‘Make It Rain.’

“This one’s about being hopeful when it’s not very easy and the people that help you do it,” he said before turning to face his bandmates. At the end of the track, he plays only the chords, letting the crowd sing to him and his fans end the set.

Kennedy fan Jay Gadhia felt he delivered a powerful performance. Gadhia, 38, from Morley, said: “I saw him busking once and then found him on YouTube. Then I found him on a random playlist on Spotify and I have followed him ever since.”

“His song ‘A Closeness’ is a work of art for me.

“That was incredible. It is second to none. He’s gonna be huge. Effortless, gritty and raw. Emotionally so powerful.”

Kennedy’s deep, grisly voice has the grit and emotion to leave you in no uncertainty: this is a man who is going somewhere, and going there fast.

New EP ‘Doves and Ravens’ out now.