JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

October 17, 2015
The Kessler Theater
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Nolan Smith
Photos by Nolan Smith

Brett Dennen - Brett Dennen, Andrew Belle

Anything But Smoke And Mirrors

The sold out double header of Brett Dennen and Andrew Belle was much anticipated by the Dallas crowd at the always enjoyable Kessler Theater on Saturday night. Making the last stop on tour for Brett Dennen (and his acclaimed Smoke And Mirrors album) the event proved to be high energy performance you'd expect from a celebration send off as the band wrapped up their whirlwind tour stopping off at 17 cities in 5 weeks.

Andrew Belle played songs from each of his albums as he sat at the keyboard while looping an electronic drum-kit through a recorder to bring in the back beat. It was a wise move as it provided a full range of sound that would have otherwise been a quiet and almost somber affair. During "I Won't Fight It," Belle shared with the crowd a heartfelt story about going through hardships and turmoil in life and how if you choose to look at things differently you can choose to not fight the changes going on in your life and accept that through adversity you are challenged and just know that in the end going through it all will make you a better person. It was a very compelling thought, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the story. He ended his set with a well-executed version of "Pieces" to a huge ovation.

The 5 piece band of Brett Dennen took the stage to a packed house. Brett while drinking on hot green tea explained that he was fighting off a cold and was under the weather, you could not tell during the performance at all. It was a real testament to Brett and his devotion to his fans to tough it out while visibly under the weather. Right from the start Brett Dennen's set list was power packed and well designed to take the audience through a well-orchestrated night. Having seen Brett Dennen many years ago as he opened for Dave Mathews Band I was very impressed how well he was able to connect with so many individuals in the crowd. At times in the concert he was actually holding conversations with multiple people with a genuine interest and asppreciation of his fans that you couldn't help but to be in awe of his humble demeanor and love of his fans.

During a high energy crowd bouncing version of "When We Were Young," Dennen climbed the side rails of the stage and held on to the 2nd balcony railing to sing back and forth with a family who had brought several of their young boys (around 10 yrs old) which was both touching and funny at the same time. I'd never seen a performer try to engage so many people and really connect to them and give them a real concert experience. For those reasons alone, Brett Dennen is a must see event if you're within a gas tank away from his next tour dates. With Brett Dennen you get real substance and a musician who cares about the honesty and integrity in his music, he is so much more than just Smoke and Mirrors.

Set List - Andrew Belle
Static Waves
Wants What It Wants
The Daylight
I Won't Fight It
Black Bear
Set List - Brett Dennen
Darlin Do Not Fear
San Francisco
She's Mine
Comeback Kid (That's My dog)
Closer to you
Can't Stop Thinking
Who Do You Think You Are?
There  Is So Much More
Must Be Losing My Mind
Wild Child
Sydney (I'll Come Running)
Ain't No Reason
When We Were Young
Ain't Gonna Lose You