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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Dermot Kennedy made Nashville cry on a Tuesday night

Dermot Kennedy and opener Sasha Alex Sloan poured their hearts out during the “Sonder Tour.”
Sara West
Dermot Kennedy passionately sings as he strums his guitar, as photographed on June 6, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)

CORRECTION: This article was corrected on June 15, 2023. It previously incorrectly referred to a song by the title of “You Won’t Go Lonely”; however, the song is titled “After Rain.”

While I enjoy almost any show I go to, I usually have a critique or two. However, I wouldn’t change a thing about Dermot Kennedy’s performance at FirstBank Amphitheater last week. 

Even before the music began, I was grateful to be in such a beautiful setting in the crisp summer air. I had never before been to the venue, but I certainly want to return soon. Just south of Nashville and built in the Graystone Quarry in Thompson’s Station, the stage is surrounded by gorgeous stone, which provides an elevated sound experience.  

The music started with opener Sasha Alex Sloan, who I have seen live many times and who constantly blows me away. She sang tracks such as “I Blame The World,” “When Was It Over?” and “Older,” which is my personal favorite. She also performed her recent hit, “Dancing With Your Ghost” and a cover of Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” so fans unfamiliar with her music could sing along. Because it was Sloan’s first night on the tour, she had to jump through a few hurdles. However, a faulty sound system couldn’t keep her from effortlessly performing her entire set with joy and confidence. 

Sasha Alex Slaon holds her hand out while performing in the soke, as photographed on June 6, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West) (Sara West)

This great night continued to exceed all expectations when Dermot Kennedy took the stage around 9:10 p.m. CDT. The show began with a black screen that had text appearing as if it was being handwritten. The text was a message from Kennedy: “When time makes this a memory, these songs will be what’s left of me. But for one night in Tennessee, I need to hear you sing to me.” Fans were ecstatic when Kennedy appeared on stage and opened with his song “Blossom.” 

Throughout the night, Kennedy played many hits off his latest album, “Sonder.” He poured his heart into each performance, making the show one that attendees not only watched and listened to, but also one that they felt in their soul. I still have chills thinking about the emotion Kennedy exhibited while performing. 

Kennedy was supported by an exceptionally talented band composed of Elize Kellman and James Bradshaw singing background vocals, Benjamin Keys on piano, Kieran Jones on guitar and Micheal Quinn on drums. Also on stage were multiple screens that sat behind Kennedy, displaying various visuals supporting each song. Kennedy’s band and the gorgeous visuals added additional emotion to the already heartfelt performances. 

My favorite part of the set was the acoustic piano slot in the middle. Kennedy sang his songs “Rome” and “Innocence and Sadness,” my favorite releases of his. Fans sang along and held their phone lights up while Kennedy sat at the piano, making the performance even more poignant. 

Kennedy continued to give his all to the crowd the entire set, especially during “After Rain,” where he encouraged fans to sing along since it is his “favorite thing to hear it sung back.” 

At another point during the night, Kennedy shared his belief that sometimes songs show up when you need them most, a feeling many audience members seemed to relate to. For many attendees, Kennedy’s songs were the ones we needed, and hearing him describe the power of music was very special. 

As the show occurred on June 6, fans were unusually excited to sing Kennedy’s song “Without Fear” with him as the song’s lyrics read, “The first full laughter, askin’ six days into June.” Fans clearly realized the significance of the lyric, showcased by their extra loud screaming and cheering. After Kennedy sang the lyric, he admitted that he had forgotten about the significance of performing that song during this show. 

Near the end of the set, Kennedy played “Don’t Forget Me,” which would be released the following day. 

“I find it hard to convey, but I’m very excited about it,” Kennedy said about his new single.

He also sang hits such as “Outnumbered,” “Kiss Me” and “Something to Someone” to close out the night. The night was certainly “An Evening I Will Not Forget.”

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About the Contributor
Sara West
Sara West, Deputy Photography Editor
Sara West ('25) is majoring in psychology in the College of Arts and Science and human and organizational development in Peabody College. Sara loves going to concerts, thrifting and exploring new places. She was previously Deputy Photography Director and hopes to enter the music industry after graduating.  She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (3)

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Sarah Williams
4 months ago

i was there and it was an unforgettable night!

Jake B.
11 months ago

Great article! I saw him in DC a few days later, and the performance was incredible. One slight factual correction is that the song with the lyrics “you won’t go lonely” is titled “After Rain.”

11 months ago
Reply to  Jake B.

We apologize for this mistake! The article has been updated. Thank you for your readership!