Dermot Kennedy: Some Summer Night at the Natural History Museum Online
At the stunning Natural History Museum in London, singer-songwriter/musician Dermot Kennedy awed with a soul-stirring performance in Some Summer Night. Using innovative theatrical elements, including haunting monologues by Emmy nominee Paul Mescal, this livestreamed online show was an uplifting experience – a forward-looking, brilliant adaptation to the bizarre state of world pandemic in which we have landed.
Opening amid the spectacular, otherworldly landmark space, bathed in gorgeous, eerie blue light, Kennedy performed the rap-inspired verselet Outnumbered, accompanied by gentle piano chords; he followed it with the wistful romantic indie-pop Lost – also a combination of spoken poetry and song. With faster-paced rock and a hard-driven beat, the terrific Power Over Me continued the theme of attachment, longing, heartbreak and loss. A tumultuous, moving vocally melodic rap lamentation, with rhythmic pounding piano, All My Friends was about pain, hope and joy. Exquisitely emotional and poetic, it highlighted Kennedy’s devotion to the poem and focus on lyrics.
Alternating with the singer’s performance were uniquely ingenious interludes featuring gifted actor Paul Mescal (Normal People) walking through the evocative museum halls, reciting beautiful, poignant, moody soliloquies – also about love’s yearning and despair.
With three violins, a cello and the artist on guitar, For Island Fires and Family was an eloquent tender folk ballad/hip-hop that pulsated with powerful feeling and passion. The Corner was rhythmic and cerebral and mournful: “feels like winter follows you around”, but also expressed gratitude for a past lover: “you let me hide and I loved you for that”. With full instrumentals and back-up singers, Moments Past was a vibrant song hinting at soul and rhythm and blues, while the fiery, ecstatic Glory with chorus had a hymnal quality.
A high point of the concert was Kennedy and Mescal together performing the energetic Giants, followed by the soft, romantic Without Fear, a strong work with vivid, expressive instrumentals. Finally, with just one acoustic guitar, The Parting Glass took place in a museum hallway amid framed images of birds. An old-fashioned traditional Scottish folk tune about infatuation, the piece spotlighted Kennedy’s amazing voice.
The hauntingly lovely Some Summer Night became more powerful with each song, as Kennedy seemed to evolve throughout the show – at his most dynamic and exceptional by his third number and thereafter – in this brilliantly arranged production for an extraordinary musician.
Photo: Jennifer McCord
For further information and future events visit Dermot Kennedy’s website here.
Watch the video for All My Friends here: