Words: Heather McAleavy
With over 381K YouTube subscribers and having visiting nearly 70 countries on tour (including with electropop duo Twenty One Pilots) it’s no wonder Bry has sold out this 470 capacity venue as quickly as he did. The Irish singer/songwriter, whose real is name Brian O’Reilly, made his debut on YouTube in 2010 and has since released three EPs and one full-length album.
Joining him as support was Canadian acoustic emo solo act Braden Barrie under the name of SayWeCanFly, a major throwback for every goth from 2013. Songs such as ‘The Art of Anesthesia’ and ‘Someone Else’ showcased his strong vocals, adding depth to the minor acoustics and enhancing the raw energy behind them. Despite his songs being so self-depreciating, he found his place on stage and performed with comfort and expertise. It was also empowering to see a male solo artist being so honest in exploring his mental health and, therefore, masculinity in songs aimed at a young audience, and checking in on the crowd jokingly, lightening the mood.
Overlooking a sea of black and white stripy tops (his signature look) with his backing band, known as The Briddly Widdlys, behind him, Bry knew what he wanted from this show and he made sure he got it. He engaged with fans with such ease simply because he knew the strong bond had already been established, especially as some of these fans have followed him on every UK tour so far. Throughout even the most minor songs in his self-proclaimed “sad indie” repertoire, such as new release ‘Don’t Get Closer’ and “tasty little indie break-up song” ‘Miserable’, he was content with himself and never let the subject matter take over. Some of his lyrics are so powerful that, accompanied with the atmosphere, they made you feel nostalgic about memories that aren’t even yours.
He took a lot of risks tonight playing three unreleased songs, including ‘Anything’ – a slow, distorted indie rock tune which featured experimental electric riffs and a breakdown unlike anything else you’ll have ever heard from Bry’s discography – but from the crowd’s reaction it paid off well. Although he experienced a technical issue with a string breaking on his acoustic guitar, he maintained a calm façade and continued to perform the first verse and chorus of ‘Child’, taken from his second EP Grow, to keep the crowd on their toes until it was fixed. This incident further showcased his versatility on stage as over the course of the tour he has been adding and swapping songs throughout. Tonight’s wildcard was melodic love ballad ‘Your Life Over Mine’ from his 2016 self-titled album.
However, the outstanding highlight had to be the encore for ‘Adventure Time’. The stage was in darkness. It was taking a while for him to come back on. Suddenly he appeared from behind and made his way through the crowd with only his acoustic guitar. A small circle was made around him as he broke into song, the audience jumping to help in the microphone’s absence. This just proved the strength of his fanbase and the respect they have for him as they stood back and let him sing in this intimate space. It’s acts like this that establish why Bry has such a strong following worldwide as he goes the extra mile (or extra 20 feet) for them every time.