- 16 Nov 23
The freshly Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter had the dedicated crowd in the palm of his hand.
New Englander Noah Kahan has had an unimaginably successful year. From the incredible reception to his third album Stick Season, to a series of high-profile collaborations, to being nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys- it's an incredible rise that is only possible due to Kahan's pure, unadulterated talent.
The line to get into the National Stadium stretched out for multiple blocks. Despite the dark November chill, thousands of Kahanheads (trademark pending) were lined up, and the excitement in the air was contagious. Inside, the room is packed; seats normally circled around a boxing ring are completely filled with lucky ticketholders.
And lucky they are—getting tickets for this show was such a bloodbath that Kahan had to upgrade the venue from the 850-capacity Academy to the 3,000-capacity National Stadium. Even that wasn’t enough; he's since announced a February show at the 13,000-capacity 3Arena, which has also sold out. He’s a hot ticket, which can of course be nerve-wracking. Who is this American guy at number one on the Irish charts, and why on earth is he so in demand?
Supporting Kahan is the Boston-formed Tiny Habits, a young trio who layer creative harmonies over little more than an acoustic guitar. Their set is simple yet captivating, playing songs from their most recent EP, Tiny Things, plus covers of ‘Landslide’ and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ that had the crowd singing along.
They’ve been supporting Kahan through his recent European dates as their first overseas tour, and they had nothing but nice things to say about Dublin. They loved the people, the streets, and the vintage clothing—and with songs like these, it’s fair to presume that they’ll have the opportunity to come right back via their own headliner.
Finally, Kahan emerges on the stage and clearly understands the humour in where he’s performing as much as the crowd does—he's clad in boxing gloves and an Irish flag draped across his shoulders, and he and his band complete a boxing-themed bit in which he “knocks out” a bandmember and is crowned “victorious”. It’s clear from the start that he isn't—ahem—pulling any punches with this performance, and he launches straight into the hit ‘Northern Attitude’.
His sound is similar to indie-folk that’s come before him, invoking the tweedy acoustic fingerpicking of artists like The Lumineers and Hozier. And yet, his vulnerable, candid lyricism and incredibly relatable themes have tapped into something that separates him from the pack—something that has packed this venue four times over.
Another thing Kahan has going for him is a killer sense of humour, which is evident in both his live shows and his stream-of-consciousness Twitter account. “I’ve seen too many happy, smiling faces today. Be mean to each other; that’s my advice,” he jokes before ‘New Perspective’. A bit later, he jokes about starting a new job in bigpharma, as his next song, 'Your Needs, My Needs’ is about being on Zoloft.
His music is unafraid of the ugly truths, as Stick Season is largely about the unique melancholy of being stuck in the small town you’ve lived in your whole life. “Live the rest of my life with what could have been, and I will die in the house that I grew up in.” And despite his own small town being in the depths of Vermont, his words resonate just as much with this crowd of Dubliners, who are singing along to every single lyric.
The last time Kahan was in Ireland, he was opening for folk-indie darlings Mt. Joy in 2018, who just-so-happened to also be here before they open for Greta Van Fleet on Thursday. So, it was undoubtedly a full-circle moment for Kahan when he brought out his fellow New Englanders Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper of Mt. Joy for a rendition of their unreleased joint song ‘Emily’.
He then barrelled through a few more of Stick Season, including ‘All My Love’, ‘Dial Drunk’ and ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’, the latter of which he dedicated to anyone attending the concert on their own.
He then entered the part of the show that he dubbed “the Q&A section”, in which he took time to read the various signs people were holding up. He congratulated a presumably successful sign holder with a sign asking for “two extra tickets”, and responded to someone asking him to play his song ‘Paul Revere’-- by last-minute changing the setlist to include it because he’s “unable to say no to these things”.
His three-song encore was only further well-received, pulling out the hits with ‘Stick Season’ and ‘The View Between Villages’, both of which have separately gone viral on TikTok. There was palpable sadness when Kahan finally left the stage for the last time, though these Irish fans don’t have too long to wait for him to come back.
Kahan will be playing the 3Arena in February, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing this crowd dutifully showing up in support—if they can get the tickets, of course.
You can check out more pictures from the night HERE.