- 07 Nov 21
Dublin native Gemma Dunleavy is one of the brightest new talents to emerge in Irish music over the past five years. That was highlighted again at The Academy, where she played a stellar set, including hits from her acclaimed 2020 EP, Up De Flats.
Energetic, lively and charismatic. These are just a few of the words that immediately spring to mind, to describe Gemma Dunleavy's powerhouse performance at The Academy, Dublin on Saturday night.
Family, friends and fans were gathered in the Abbey Street venue, as DJ Jack Colley, also known as Baliboc, got proceedings underway – pumping up the crowd in fine style.
Before long, the R&B singer-songwriter appeared on stage like an ethereal vision, wearing a shimmery, metallic cape. Accompanied by a backup vocalist, harpist, drummer and keyboardist/saxophonist/violinist, Dunleavy kicked off the show with her 2019 single 'Better 4 U', shedding the cape as the beat dropped.
Next up was another of her early cuts, 'Jasmine', before she launched into tracks from 2020's Up De Flats. Between the individual songs, she gave a bit of background on the EP, explaining how – in order to tell the stories properly – she stepped into six different characters across the six-track collection.
She took an extra moment to explain 'Stop The Lights', pausing to share a spoken word poem she had written, and dedicating the song to Terence Wheelock, a 20-year-old from the North Inner City of Dublin, who died in 2005 while in Garda custody. Her dedication clearly resonated with the crowd, who cheered in support and affirmation.
Midway through her set, she introduced a special guest – one of the finest rappers currently operating in Ireland, MuRli. The two performed a captivating live version of their collaborative single with producer Boku, 'Odyssey'. Later, background vocalist Antoinette Dunleavy stepped up to lead a song with Gemma. Her soulful vocals were phenomenal, blowing everyone in the venue away.
Dunleavy ended the show by bringing her friends and family on stage, all clad in Sheriff YC jerseys. The crowd – on stage and in the venue – proceeded to join in on 'Up De Flats', doing what it says in the song: "Shouting up the flats from the rooftops." It was a magical ending to a stellar set, cementing the impressive sense of community created by Dunleavy's music.
Revisit Dunleavy's 2020 interview with Hot Press' Kate Brayden here.