They say there could be nothing worse than playing to an audience who doesn't know your music. But this didn't seem to faze American singer songwriter Brett Dennen, who if anything, relished the opportunity to share his music with a new audience.
This was no easy task as Dennen, who was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the ten artists to watch in 2008, was competing with the Friday evening post-work crowd who where more concerned with what their next drink would be, rather than listen to the versatile Californian. But that is the nature of doing a free gig, something rare for Dennen who has toured with Elvis Costello, John Mayer and Rodrigo Y Gabriela.
A man lost in his music, Brett Dennen sat at ease for his seventy minute set, accompanied by New Yorker John Solo on keyboard. The warm guitar riffs and deeply personal lyrics allowed Brett to slowly captivate his audience and show off his original sound. He may have topped the iTunes folk charts but this man goes beyond the folk barrier; his songs reveal his reggae, rock, country and acoustic-pop influence. The soulful voice belting out behind the bright red hair is strangely soothing and Dennen proves that he is more than another young American singer songwriter trying to make it big. From the slow existential sentiments of 'Ain't No Reason' to the hit single 'There Is So Much More', Dennen maintained a melodic perfection throughout. Hid away in the corner of Katy Dalys, his voice transcended across the noise filled bar and by the end of his set, he had captured the attention of those who where simply there by chance and not by choice.
With three albums under his belt, copious elevated reviews and his songs featuring on Greys Anatomy, House, Scrubs and Ugly Betty, Brett Dennen is finally being recognised for his undefined and special sound and is a talented artist in his own right.
Speaking to me after the gig, Brett revealed he will be back to Belfast in October and looks forward to another intimate gig filled with both old and new fans. Let's hope next time around Belfast will appreciate the one time hippie camp counsellor.