Dermot Kennedy – SWX Bristol – 15th November

Written & Photographed by James Conway

The luck of the Irish blessed us this evening as singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy came down to Bristol’s SWX whilst on his run of ‘Sonder’ Album release shows. Our writer and photographer James Conway was presented with the opportunity to review and photograph his show, it would have been rude not to accept…

For the past several years I have been in awe with Dermot’s captivating lyrics and enchanting vocals. His debut album ‘Without Fear’ was easily my favourite album from the previous decade and with his sophomore record ‘Sonder’ releasing this Friday (November 18th) it was a no brainer I would ever turn down the chance to see him in such an intimate venue like SWX. 

As the lights in the venue slowly started to dim and a distant hum was starting to be heard, the crowd of eager fans’ excitement was evidently growing as everyone was cheering. As the lighting turn to black, Kennedy’s band enter the stage – with Dermot off stage beginning to sing the start of his fan favourite track ‘Lost’. As Dermot’s drummer (Micheál Quinn) starts laying down a powerful kick pattern, Dermot enters and instantly his grinning face is projecting how excited he is for the duration of this last gig before his new album releases. 

As this is an album release show we did get to hear the singles released on this campaign but also a new one. ‘One Life’, an exceptional track with some of the most powerful vocals I’ve heard from Dermot. Surprising to no one, the front row mega fans had already memorised the lyrics from prior shows and were screaming them back to the Irish star. 

From ‘One Life’, Dermot exited his band and played us three piano ballads which had been released in prior months. First we heard the single that accompanied the album announcement, ‘Dreamer’ then we were graced with the emotionally gut punching ‘Innocence & Sadness’ which had just been released a couple weeks beforehand. And finally collective fan favourite ‘Rome’ – all equally powerful songs, encapsulating the raw emotion Dermot is so well known for. 

Lastly, to close off the night we were sent home with arguably two of Dermot’s biggest hits, ‘Outnumbered’ which certainly propelled his career into what it is now. Finally, the first official single from ‘Sonder’ his comeback single ‘something to someone’ – there is nothing to say apart from the crowds went ballistic when these tracks were performed. It is so evident that Dermots music is hitting and ultimately reaching the right people. His raw and vulnerable lyricism has affected so many people and this performance is really a testimony to his hard work and dedication to his art.

Dermot is due back in the UK next spring on an arena run of shows.

‘Sonder’ releases on November 18th through Island Records pre order here.