Dermot Kennedy at Alexandra Palace

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The last time Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy toured the UK it was as a relatively unknown name shortly after releasing his debut 2019 album Without Fear. This time around, he headlines a three-day London run to an enthusiastic crowd more than acquainted with every song on the setlist. Confidently pacing the stage of Alexandra Palace, he also presents new material born out of lockdown, turning his concert into a beacon of hope, aptly summed up by the chorus: “Better days are coming.”

The evening begins with a faint hum of notes before the artist launches into crowd-pleaser Lost. The selection of well-known opening tracks continues with Power Over Me, which, despite a rocky start and restart, is actually carried through by collective voices as a strong reminder of the power of a live audience. Some of the biggest crowd roars come with newer tracks Giants and Better Days – anthems pretty much written for nights like this. There is a satisfying range in performances throughout as the singer showcases his powerful, gravelly voice through both rocky uptempo tracks and gentler moments, be it performing with his acoustic guitar, impossibly deep vocals in autobiographical An Evening I Will Not Forget, or the gloriously rocky outros and drumming in Glory. There is even range in the staging, for example in Rome, where the singer sits downstage with the band standing collectively above him to represent feeling lost before overcoming it.

Fans are no doubt enjoying the singer’s unique voice and mighty musical delivery, but a large part of it is also revelling in the lyrical poetry. Even though the songs are evidently personal, he is able to share their intention satisfyingly with the room with poignant lines like, “Even though this life, this love is brief, I’ve got some people who carry me”. For Island Fires and Family is a special highlightKennedy singing a capella alongside the crisp harmonies of the backing vocalists. The former busker speaks about how, no matter the venue size, one can still create intimate moments, and this is certainly one of them.

After a rather long wait for an encore, popular tracks All My Friends and Outnumbered are finally performed to raucous applause. Dermot Kennedy may no longer be considered a “new” artist, but with soulful showcases like this, and a few more gigs left for the year, he will no doubt continue to pick up new fans along the way. Even better days than this lie ahead for this act.

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