Irish folk rock outfit Keywest, in recent years, have become Ireland’s biggest independent act with a reputation for captivating live shows (whether that be their frequent busking on the streets or massive sold out Irish dates). Playing a mostly sold out Irish tour in promotion of their new album True North, they stopped off in Belfast at the Limelight.
Support came from Apella, a two piece Irish rock band who burst onto the scene in 2016 with the infectiously catchy debut single We Met At A Party. The band proved to be a fantastic opener for the headliners, with many fans coming down early to see the up-comers. Tracks such as Graceful Dancer and the new single Logic stood out in particular and were received well by the growing crowd, with the two piece’s energetic stage presence only building the excitement for the headline act. The set proved the band’s ability to write likeable, high-energy anthems designed for the crowd to sing along.
Following a thoroughly enjoyable support slot from Apella, the crowd were now geared up to see the main act of the night. Keywest emerged on stage and instantly kicked into the title track from their new album True North.
The first few tracks demonstrated the band’s ability to write diverse pop rock anthems while still keeping a largely unique and identifiable sound. Crowd interaction began immediately with the audience singing the chorus to This Summer. This level of crowd participation was to be maintained throughout the show and is a real strength of Keywest’s live show, with lead singer Andrew Kavanagh taking every opportunity to express his pleasure at being back in Belfast.
Highlights of the set included Apple Tree Hill and I Never Loved You Anyway which completely captivated the crowd, as well demonstrating the vocal talent of Andrew. These two tracks were separated by an unexpected cover of California Love by Tupac. While this sounds like an odd combination, it was surprisingly natural and was received brilliantly by the crowd.
The band’s new single Cold Hands was given a heartfelt introduction by Andrew who explained the context of the band, inspired by a homeless veteran they’d encountered while busking. This only enhanced the experience of an already inspiring and though provoking track.
It was the final few tracks, however, which received the best reaction from the crowd and proved to be some of the most memorial moments from the night. Gypsy Rose was a personal favourite, personifying the band’s diverse song writing. The crowd sing-along for Something Beautiful, as well the band’s most famous track This is Heartbreak, however, were the pinnacle of the atmosphere which had been building throughout the night. The final songs proved the perfect way to end an incredibly enjoyable experience.
Keywest’s ability to write songs that work both in arenas and on the streets is massively impressive, and it’s no wonder they’ve been able attain a dedicated fanbase over the past few years. It was clear from the crowd at Limelight that Keywest have a large multi-generational appeal, which no doubt owes some credit to the band’s exceptional work ethic and their massively captivating live show.