Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Brett Dennen 6/1 @ Headliners

Reviewed by guest writer Phaedra King

 On June 1st, Brett Dennen played at Headliner’s.   Two months ago, I had never heard of him.   However, as luck would have it, a friend assumed I’d like Dennen and gave me his latest cd: Loverboy.  I’ve listened to it every day since.  Luck intervened again last night, when a friend invited me to catch his show.

I’m totally fascinated by Brett Dennen.  I know everyone talks about the way he looks, but how can you not?  He looks like a kid.  A sweet, apple pie, Opie-faced kid!  How can this “kid” write such poignant songs about love, longing and heartbreak?   Whomwould dare break the heart of this angelic-faced boy, who tweets things like “aw shucks!”

Healiners was packed.  Dennen obviously appeals to people in every age group and I was happy to fall into the middle of the demographics last night.  When his set started, I was a little worried that I would be disappointed.  I had fallen in love with Loverboy and there was always the possibility that he wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. 
Well he did not disappoint!  A lot of what I assumed was right: Dennen comes across as very shy and soft spoken.  There wasn’t a lot of conversing with the audience. But then we didn’t come to hear him speak; we came to hear him sing.  And man can he sing! 

Dennen sings with his whole body.  In person you aren’t so much fascinated with his baby-face, as with his amazingly long legs.  He’s all limbs and his limbs are moving all the time!  He’d throw his long arms out and the audience would exult!  He would wiggle his hips and the crowd would wiggle right along with him.

He sings barefooted, which did not surprise me.  If you watch closely (which apparently I did), his toes are constantly working, gripping and searching the small Oriental rug he stands on.  I couldn’t help but think “here is a guy who prefers to read books over Nooks or Kindles, because he’s extremely tactile and likes to touch and feel things.”  And Dennen does “feel things.”  He feels them with his soul.  He pours those feelings out in his songs and he shares them.  The best part being that then you (the listener) can then also feel them.  They are real, not manufactured like so many songs today.  I’m so tired of listening to music and thinking “their voice doesn’t even sound real, and the music is so over done I can’t even decide what type of instruments are being played!”  This is not the case with Dennen.  His voice is real.  He sounds the same in person as he does on his CDs.  His voice is unique… you find yourself trying to find someone to compare it to:  last night I got Paul Simon with a hint of Tom Petty.  But really, his voice is the voice of Brett Dennen!  He does not need to be compared to anyone. 

At that show, Dennen was accompanied by four musicians.  And for his first encore, Dawes joined his band and brought down the house!  This was a big change from the last time Dennen came to Louisville.  According to my companion, at that time, he played with just himself and a guitar.   I was bummed, when I heard about that show.  I would have like to have known about Brett Dennen when he was just a boy with a guitar.  But then, Loverboy would not disappoint … for his second encore, Brett Dennen WAS just a boy with a guitar and he “rocked me to my soul!”

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