Saturday, 8 June 2013

A night with The Kennedys

 Hello dear readers!

 You may have read my interview a couple of months ago with folk-rock duo The Kennedys; well, on Sunday 2nd June I was lucky enough to attend their concert in Saltaire, Yorkshire.

 It was a gorgeous summer's evening as my dad and I arrived in Saltaire and found Caroline Social Club.

 Inside the club I was surprised: the live room was smaller than I had expected, and candles sat on all the tables. It created a lovely ambience and we were just a few metres away from the performers which made the show feel much more intimate.

 Maura and Pete Kennedy very kindly spoke to me before the show and asked if I had any requests and I put one in for Listen, a song I love.

 One thing I regret is not requesting another song or two - partly because I was somewhat starstruck and my mind went blank, and partly because the other few songs I might have asked for were ones I thought there was a chance they might do anyway.

 Some they did, some they didn't, but they performed two fantastic sets that contained many of my favourites as well as some songs I hadn't heard before and fell in love with.

 Before The Kennedys came on stage we were treated to an opening set by Pip Mountjoy, an up-and-coming English folk singer, which I really enjoyed. She mentioned that she sews her EP covers - I was intrigued by this so looked them up; they are truly beautiful and I applaud her for such an original idea.

 The Kennedys then came on stage and went straight into what is in my humble opinion their masterwork: Life is Large; an incredible, uplifting song. They then performed a first set made up of classics, songs from their latest album, Closer Than You Know, and requests, including mine, Listen. 

 I had never heard Listen performed live so I hadn't heard the story behind it; that Maura wrote it as a metaphor for life and living in the moment. Knowing the story behind the song makes it mean even more to me now, and overall it was an incredibly special few minutes for me.

 Another song whose inclusion made me very happy was When I Go by Dave Carter; I found out that in fact they like to perform a Dave Carter song at every show to allow more people to hear and appreciate his music. 

 I listen to the recorded version of this a lot, but seeing it live was something very rare and almost magical; as Maura sang she seemed to be so in tune to the song, the lyrics; almost devoted - not in a religious way; more simply at one with the song and its depiction of life, nature, death and spirituality. 

 After the last strum from Pete I think everyone held their breath for a moment, afraid to clap too soon and break the beauty and magic of this moment. It was something I feel honoured to have been a part of.

 The second set seemed to me to be slightly more experimental, with songs I hadn't heard them perform before - covers of Bob Dylan, The Byrds and Buddy Holly (their first date was at Buddy Holly's grave).

 Pete also played some stunning guitar and ukulele solos; he is a brilliant guitarist and it was really something to see such a master at work, doing what he loves. Like Maura singing When I Go, he seemed completely tuned in to something powerful, lost to everything but the beautiful sounds he was creating. It was another very special part of the evening.

 The Kennedys ended the show with Not Fade Away by Buddy Holly. I hadn't heard the original at the time and having listened to it since, I much prefer The Kennedys' version. It was electric, dynamic - simple bursting with energy and passion. It was the perfect end to the show, and stayed in my head for days afterwards.

 They came back out to do an encore, and performed Stand, another of their songs that I like and might have requested. 

 Again, the anecdote attached - that they wanted to create a non-exclusive gospel song - really added to the experience of hearing and seeing the song performed. After the wonderful delirium of Not Fade Away, Stand was a calmer, more spiritual note to end on.

 At the end of the evening I got their album Stand; I hope to listen to it through soon and post a review on this blog, so watch this space. Its opening track, Dharma Cafe, is one of the songs they performed tonight that I hadn't heard before but that I really liked and kept singing to myself afterwards.

 I also had to have a quick photo with Pete and Maura - I would have liked to stay and chat a bit more with them and with other Kennedys fans at the venue but sadly I had an exam the next morning and had to dash off.

 However, I had an amazing evening and I must stress how kind and down-to-earth Pete and Maura are at concerts: you can go to a great show and really enjoy it and leave afterwards without having seen the performer and it still be a great night out, so imagine all that but with performers who are willing to mingle with their guests, take requests, chat about the show... 

 Seeing the Kennedys live is more an experience than merely a show, and I am very grateful to have had that experience. I hope they retain their down-to-earthness - I have no reason to believe they won't - and that I can see them live many more times in the future.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

Listen - The Kennedys - 2005
When I Go - The Kennedys - 2003

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