Tom Grennan and Dermot Kennedy: O2 Academy, Liverpool

By Shaun Ponsonby
Wed 24 October, 2018

Michael Fell heads out to the O2 Academy for two nights of sold-out shows in one of Liverpool’s favourite venues.

Host to some of the most eclectic bands, the O2 Academy never fail to draw some of the greats into the heart of the city. Last week both Tom Grennan and Dermot Kennedy took to the stage on the Sunday. It’s hard not to draw similarities when you feel after less than 24 hours separation, the concerts felt more like a two day festival pass.

Tom Grennan‘s audience ranged from young couples seeking the romantic sing-along to the yell-out-the-summer-banger crowds of lads plus everything in between. His set had been eagerly anticipated, with assistance from local talent Zuzu doing a great job of filling the room with her beautiful voice, before Elli Ingram, whose delightful mix of neo-soul and jazz, was met with an enthusiastic crowd. She can be confident that the next time, the headline spot will be safe in her hands, and we look forward to seeing which jazzy combination of clothes will be chosen for the task.

Tom Grennan‘s Lighting Matches is one of this year’s top albums, and whilst it was difficult to evade some of his singles such as Found What I’ve Been Looking For, what made the gig truly special were the intimate moments where the audience were brought down to near silence.

His opening number, Sweet Hallelujah was an indication of the kind of mesmerising flow of energy that his songs were to take through their course. With a voice that can bring sensitivity to the slower songs in his repertoire, he really seems to take his voice to the next level in songs such as Sober, where he lets rip these incredible back-of-the-throat growling melodies.

The band included two backing singers who, alongside this raw sound, rounded off the overall sound of the group perfectly and allowed for the more intimate moments between audience and band. Already sharing a fair amount of sweat already (air-conditioning fault), his chatter cut straight to the point, thanking the Liverpool crowd for coming out and supporting his path.

Now down to his vest with his seemingly endless energy he bounces across the stage and belts out the crowd favourite and opening track of his album Found What I’ve Been Looking For and before long it was only too soon that Tom made his departure from the stage.

The next evening, I was expecting a little of the same kind of vibe. Air conditioning intact, this writer moved to the other side so there was at least a fresh angle.

Dermot Kennedy, whose name and record company shares names such as Eminem and Lady Gaga, has made a name for himself as a powerful lyricist and folk-pop acoustic artist from Dublin who made his debut with his 2016 single After Rain.

His journey through hip-hop, developing his sound, is clear from the set which features intimate acoustic moments, into fully-blown, Bon Iver inspired anthems.

His love for the music is clear in his detailed descriptions of songs and what they mean to him, taking us a little deeper into his music and reason for writing. The mixture of his strong vocals, acoustic guitar and mostly electronic drums gave us some idea as to where Kennedy‘s hip-hop love has affected his music.

His most recent EP, Doves & Ravens is where his musical paint-pallet really shows off its roots. Coming from an emotional depth, the highlight was Glory & Boston, both songs capturing the idea behind the EP of two extremes moving in conjunction with the other, allowing the true nature and draw of his music and writing to be brought to the forefront.

The fact that these two talents have both sold-out shows is a good sign that the real and emotional brand of music is still reaching people. With so much to choose from these lyrics have the ability to locate and pluck out a feeling or a moment in time and to allow all types of audience to share and enjoy this together were wonderful experiences.

Images: Artist’s Facebook page