I came away from Dean Lewis’ concert having learnt three things. Firstly, that all the best artistic inspiration comes from spending time in London. Secondly, that diamonds are definitely made under pressure. And thirdly, that Dean Lewis’ voice is even more beautiful in real life than it is over Spotify, which is something I truly didn’t think was possible.
Lewis is currently touring with Jack Gray and SYML, two artists who complement each other wonderfully despite their quite different sounds. While I only managed to catch the end of Gray’s set, his charm and banter with the audience — an element of performance that both SYML and Lewis shared as well — really added to his performance.
SYML — who I’m convinced many people in the audience initially thought was Dean Lewis despite the fact that he came on without any band at all and didn’t look like him — walked onto the stage and immediately burst into song. He joked with the audience and even went on to have a little question and answer session part way through his set. One was a request for his song, “Girl,” which I was pleasantly surprised to realize I had actually heard before and really liked. He talked about how he wrote it for his daughter and the surgery she had to go through, which solicited the necessary oohs and aahs from the audience. Another one that’s definitely up there and has his most hits on Spotify is “Where’s My Love.” Given that I can’t find either of these songs on any of my playlists, I can only assume that I’ve heard them both while listening to a Dean Lewis radio, which seems fitting.
Both Gray and SYML made comments throughout about Lewis, asking whether we were excited for him to come on and noting that they’d be at the back by the merch tables after their own set but also after Lewis’ if we wanted to chat, which was just a really kind and lovely way to introduce the headlining act.
Like SYML, Lewis went straight into his performance, kicking off his setlist with “Lose My Mind,” a song from his 2017 EP, Same Kind of Different. Lewis’ voice is the kind that gives you a lump in your throat and makes you go weak at the knees. It is effortlessly simple and pared down but just so smooth and calming. It’s the kind of music you can just let wash over you or that you can get into really deeply and listen to the lyrics and really feel the emotion behind every line he sings. But even if you don’t find yourself actively listening to each and every word, if you listen to them enough times on loop, which it’s hard to stop yourself from doing, you’ll find that you already know every word to every song.
Lewis talked about his EP as well.
“The EP was me throwing things at a wall. I didn’t really know who I was,” he said.
Having written songs for other people for a long time before breaking out as a singer in his own right, it makes sense that the EP was Lewis’ way of figuring out himself and his style before committing to a fully fledged album.
Now though, Lewis has developed and refined, and he very clearly has more of a sense of who he is individually as an artist. While his debut studio album is set to be released March 22, as Lewis himself pointed out near the beginning of the show, he’s in the weird position of having released seven songs so far and having to play for an hour. So anyone who sees him on tour has the joy of being able to hear a plethora of songs that feature on A Place We Knew, all of which meld incredibly well with the sound of the other four songs from the album that he’s already released as singles: “Chemicals,” “Be Alright,” “7 Minutes” and his most famous song, “Waves,” which he saved for last.
Both “Chemicals,” an incredible song from his EP, and a new song “Hold of Me” were songs that the crowd clearly loved, but they were also songs that Lewis admitted to having written last minute. About “Hold Of Me,” he said, “Six months or so ago, I needed to write a song for the next day, and it was written at about 2 a.m. It’s gonna open my next album, and I hope you’re going to sing along next time.” I’m sure that everyone will, and I can’t wait to hear it again when his album is released. But I also can’t help but feel comforted that a chart-topping artist comes out with some of his best work at 2 a.m. the morning that it’s due.
I also had to feel some home pride that two of his best songs, “7 Minutes” and “Waves,” were both written while he was in England. I don’t really have much else to say on that, but I’m definitely going to say that those two are my favorite songs of his now and use that as the reason why, because if you asked me to pick an actual favorite Dean Lewis song, it’d be just too hard.