REVIEW: Keywest – Mandela Hall, Belfast

KW2 It’s been an amazing year so far for Dublin pop-rockers Keywest.

Over the past few months they’ve doubled their fan base on Facebook and have just been voted Hot Press Magazine’s Most Promising Act of 2015. This weekend they played their first major Belfast show in Mandela Hall, and it’s safe to say their fans certainly weren’t disappointed.

Kicking the night off were Replica, the first warm up-act to play. I was really impressed by the singer’s vocals and their Guns n Roses esque 80’s guitar riffs really got the crowd going. Next up were young soft-rockers The Crossfire, whose sound was much more reserved and reminded me of the many acts recently frequented on Radio 1. It’s clear to see that they draw influence from bands such as The Killers, Coldplay and U2, and although this has been done before, their execution was faultless and the crowd really seemed to warm to them.

kw3Next, the lights dimmed and the crowd excitedly embraced Keywest as they took to the stage. It was a rocky start for the band as there were a few technical difficulties with singer Andrew’s microphone, but he soldiered on, borrowing the guitarist’s mic and singing flawlessly.

What I loved about the performance was the diversity of music they played. Gypsy Rose reminded me of an American country anthem but with an upbeat, pop twist and lots of heavy bass, and Absolution took me back to my teenage days of listening to bands like Angels and Airwaves and the All American Rejects. The crowd went wild when they did a cover of George Ezra’s Budapest, and the vibe completely toned when they did a really unique version of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, complete with a harmonica solo.

Another favourite of mine was Road to Damnation, which the singer proudly informed the crowd was about sex. Despite the slightly cringe-worthy lyrics, I enjoyed the Red Hot Chilli Peppers feel and heavy, recurring riff of the song. Akw8s the gig went on, the music seemed to get slightly heavier and towards the end, singer Andrew was playing the drums at the front of the stage, much to the crowd’s joy. The band played a 16 song set for a good two hours, even coming out for an encore, so I would definitely say that fans got brilliant value for money with this gig.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when seeing Keywest live, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was so refreshing to see a band genuinely enjoying themselves onstage and their excitement added to the whole atmosphere of the night.  They seem like such lovely guys that you can’t help but wish them well for the future. Their fan base se
ems to be growing every day and I was informed by a few fans outside that they’re gonna make it big really soon, so watch this space. Meghan Gilleece, GiggingNI.com