Dryrobes may have been the most divisive fashion item to hit our shores when many turned to ‘sea swimming’ during the pandemic, but there was no denying their usefulness on Saturday night in Musgrave Park. As the heavens opened upon a stadium full of Dermot Kennedy’s fans, warm and dry attendees weaved their way around with a smile as their seaside clothing found a new purpose at the sold-out gig.
Unsurprisingly, the audience was a sea of ponchos – punctuated by those who fashioned outerwear from bin liners and one man I spotted proudly wearing a shower cap to keep his head dry – and a staff member at a nearby shop, which does not sell ponchos, confirmed their demand that weekend. “I should just put up a sign at the door that says ‘No ponchos, no naggins’,” he laughed.
Despite the downpour, the crowd was ecstatic to see Kennedy appear on stage – after all, most had waited years for this day. In late 2019, Kennedy’s debut album ‘Without Fear’ spent 28 non–consecutive weeks at number one in the Irish charts. It since sold over one million copies worldwide and he is now a platinum-selling artist in many countries – not bad for a guy who honed his skills busking around Ireland for a decade.
His Musgrave Park concert was due to have taken place in 2020 and Kennedy was touched by the audience’s patience, reflecting on the difference between the Dubliner's latest appearance and the previous time he performed in the Rebel County.
“If my memory serves me correctly the last and only time I played Cork was in Cyprus Avenue to one or two hundred people,” he recalled. “Thank you for being here, it’s been a long time coming. This show was postponed twice. Thank you for holding onto your tickets, waiting in the rain, supporting the music. Thank you for being here.”
Saturday night’s gig was the last Irish date in Kennedy’s current tour and he opens for Shawn Mendes’ USA and Canada tour from Monday.
Kicking off the gig with ‘Lost’, he easily had the crowd in thrall, pausing occasionally to give context to some songs but you get the impression that isn't needed: his fans in Cork have been following his work for years and their appreciation was evident as he belted some beloved tunes, including ‘Power Over Me’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Glory’.
No doubt a surge of cheers could be heard beyond Ballyphehane as the opening bars of what is probably his best-known song rang out and soon the whole stadium was singing along to ‘Giants’.
Musgrave Park was bathed in light from thousands of smartphones held in the air when Kennedy began to sing ‘Without Fear’. For his closing number ‘Something To Someone’ the crowd moved as one to the music.
Kennedy is an impressive performer and it is no mean feat for one man to captivate a venue like Musgrave Park, but he did it with grace and humility. “Thanks so much for being patient tonight, for being patient for two years, for sticking with us,” he said, ever grateful for the support of his fans.