Dermot Kennedy: Sound Waves
In a peculiar year during which artists’ tours have been put on hold and living rooms are taking centre stage, Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy announced Sound Waves, a special one-off concert that was streamed live to raise money for the World Health Organisation’s Covid Response Fund. Kennedy had earlier announced that with this project, weeks in the making, he and his band aimed to replicate “the feeling of a live concert”.
This level of consideration definitely shines through in the show’s production value, differing from other virtual performances that have circulated online recently. Though the gig was pre-recorded, it allows for more atmospheric special effects, with quadrants of Kennedy and his fellow musicians visually distorted in blue and black, almost dark enough to make you forget where you are for a brief moment of escapism. It’s a smooth jigsaw combining the keyboard, drums, synth and electric guitar alongside the impressive harmonies of backing vocalists. “To find new meaning in the same lyrics” was one of the songwriter’s intentions, and this is certainly the case with opening track All My Friends. The promise of the words, “you’ll find your way; some summer night, I hope I see you again”, remains powerfully poignant.
Showcasing his husky, powerful vocals in tracks such as Redemption and Outgrown from chart-topping debut album Without Fear, it’s a a short set of under half an hour. Judging from the YouTube channel’s comments, Power Over Me and Outnumbered remain fan favourites, with the hopeful message of the latter song visually reflected by the coloured graphics warming up. There’s a surprise track in the form of a cover of Joey Bada$$’s Temptation, a chance to showcase the versatile artist’s hip-hop-inspired side. Musically, all vocals and instrumentals are on point, virtually sounding as polished as a studio record; if anything it lacks a touch of live magic, but this is wholly understandable given the logistical restraints. The show is still an admirable work of art that will be a unique snapshot to look back on later in the singer’s career.
Sound Waves is an opportunity to reach and grow Kennedy’s ever-expanding fanbase – from the Philippines to Philadelphia – many of whom will also undoubtedly be left wanting more. But it’s also a teaser for a time when audiences will finally be able to revel in the music from the same room. For now, it’s focused purely on the music, delivering on the singer’s intention to “provide beautiful escapism”.
Watch the video for Outnumberedhere: