Live Review: Dermot Kennedy @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl

24 November

“I woke up this morning with literally no voice, but I was given a steroid and here I am,” exclaims Mia Wray. It seems to have done the trick as she belts out her powerful vocals without fail.

Wray showcases her new single called Tell Her, which she explains is about a really big crush on a girl. “I wrote a whole album about it, and she had no idea, so I’ll see how that one pans out,” she reveals.

Wray shares her emotional and empowering anthems including Monster Brain, Rerun, and Evidence which she tells was written about getting stalked after a show. “He got arrested,” she confirms.

The stage is covered in darkness and a spotlight illuminates Dermot Kennedy centre stage as he walks down a ramp towards the audience, opening with Blossom. He apologises for being late as it’s the first night of his Australian/New Zealand tour and needed to sort some things out before coming on stage.

To catch up on time, he continues with the next few songs (Power Over Me, One Life, An Evening I Will Not Forget) without any talking for a while. The rain starts pouring down but the audience continues to sing through it and take cover under ponchos in the lawn area.

Kennedy takes a seat at the piano for a song about memories and explains how at the right time even if it seems so dark or unfixable the right memory at the right time can fix so much. “I want you to pick one memory. Something that is your happiest time, the clearest memory you have of your best day, your best time. Remember every single detail and just stay there for this song. If you need to close your eyes do that. Whatever you need to stay there as clearly as you can,” he asks before he sings Rome, and we hold up our phone torches for the emotional moment to let the light represent whatever memory we choose.

“I try not to explain too much about my songs because I like for you to take whatever you need from them. I wonder how this many people can relate to it and my music continues to teach me things. The same some could mean one thing at the beginning and then grows and changes,” he shares.

Kennedy goes on to explain how there’s a common theme in so much of his music about the fear of time passing, the fear of losing certain relationships and the fact that things aren’t infinite, but he believes that nothing is beautiful enough to last forever. “It scares me but also compels me, so all I would love for anyone to take from this music is to cherish your loves ones more and be a bit more present and grateful in the love you experience,” he says.

He opens up about his song Innocence And Sadness before singing it for us. “It’s hard to some up what this song means to me, but I just needed it at a certain time in terms of my life and my career. I feel like it’s easy to lose sight of things when you’re doing this for a career and this song really helped m see clearly and got me back on the path. If it means something to you that means a lot to me,” he shares.

He moves back to the middle of the stage and picks up his acoustic guitar to continue with a few more up-tempo songs including Outnumbered, Better Days and Kiss Me. The crowd sings along to every word in unison and Kennedy notes it’s a really big deal and dream come true for his guitarist (Kieren) to play this venue in his hometown.

Due to the late start, Kennedy rushes to get in one last song (Something To Someone) before the strict curfew. “I want you to believe it when you say it,” he shouts, encouraging us to sing the heartfelt chorus with him for one final time as thousands of voices echo throughout the bowl.

Words by Michael Prebeg


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