On the 14th of June, Derry singer-songwriter JC Stewart took to the stage of the Academy Green Room, Dublin, as part of his ‘The Tour After the Tour That Didn’t Tour’ tour; a lengthy tongue-twister-like name referring back to his 2020 tour, that had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
Having reached the attention of Jennifer Aniston over lockdown with a parody of the Friends theme song, writing with Lewis Capaldi, and gigging with the likes of Capaldi, Lauv, and Annemarie, it’s safe to say JC Stewart has been making waves in music for quite some time now, but due to the pandemic, this was Stewart’s first headline tour.
The night kicked off at 8pm with a 30-minute set from support act Saibh Skelly, an 18-year-old Dublin singer-songwriter, who got those in attendance swaying, moving, and cheering along to a mix of her covers, as well as her original music, most of which was unreleased.
Saibh performed a pretty similar set to what was performed only weeks prior when she supported Teddy Swims in Dublin (review found here)
Saibh performed a mix of songs about overcoming heartbreak, to what she described as “cringy love songs” about falling for someone new, teasing at a new EP, and then played 3 covers; Clinton Kane’s ‘Fix It to Break It’, Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dreams’, and James TW’s ‘When You Love Someone’, 2 of which are on Skelly’s 2022 EP ‘Undercover Heartbreak‘
Shortly after 9pm, JC Stewart came onstage to cheers from the crowd, as he performed ‘Like I Did’, to which he joked afterwards saying, “I haven’t played a show in Dublin in so long, I swear it’s taken me like 75 years to be here”.
The show was originally scheduled to be in the main room of the Academy, but for whatever reason it was moved downstairs, to the smaller room, which in most cases would be fine, after all, you’re getting a smaller intimate show with the artist. However, possibly due to the seemingly late change of rooms, the lighting for the gig was not the best, with JC Stewart being in darkness for quite some time during the set. The crowd were enjoying the music, JC was sounding great, it’s just a shame he couldn’t always be seen. Having seen photos of his other tour dates, it seems Dublin was one of the smaller ones, which may explain the poorer lighting.
Stewart was onstage working with a loop pedal, after saying his laptop crashed, but it added to the gig, as he could be seen making the harmonies, and backing tracks live in front of the crowd.
Going through a setlist made up of older songs, such as 2018’s ‘Medicine’, all the way to ‘Scars’, only released in May, it was a very enjoyable night, with plenty of dancing, and singing to be seen in the crowd, helped by the strong guitar backbeat produced by Stewart onstage.
One cover he did was Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, introducing it with “if you’re here to have a dance and a sing, this one’s for you.”
His penultimate song was his most-streamed song, ‘I Need You To Hate Me’, a song that had everyone singing, and yet still had him in darkness during some of the choruses.
He then walked offstage, before returning a minute later for an encore, with just a guitar in his hand and walked into the middle of the room, as the crowd formed a circle around him. “This song is only going to work if everyone’s quiet.” He performed an acoustic unplugged version of an unreleased song, I can only assume to be called ‘Space Hurts’, which he wrote on tour while missing his girlfriend Annabelle Hoy, who also inspired his song ‘Loud’.
With lyrics like “but space hurts, whenever she’s not here, I crave her, the darkness comes in near”, it’s clear how much Hoy means to Stewart, and how much he’s missing her while on his first debut headline tour.
Following this beautiful unplugged performance, the show finished just after 10pm, where JC Stewart then stood at the merch table to meet, thank, and take photos with anyone who was in attendance. A true sign of his great character, he seemed very appreciative of everyone who was there.
Having been a fan of JC Stewart for years now, even having a signed CD from 2019, I had been very excited for this one, and was looking forward to seeing him play the Academy main room, where usually the sound and lighting is great. I was disappointed when I saw it was in the Green Room, because I knew already that the show wasn’t going to be the same.
Despite this change of venue, JC Stewart put on a great performance, with probably some of the best live vocals I’ve heard in a long time, but selfishly, I wish there was more. It seems like this venue wasn’t the most suitable for the show that night, and that’s no fault of Stewart’s, I just hope next time we see a more suitable spot, or simply a better lit show.
That’s not me saying the show was bad, because it definitely wasn’t. I really enjoyed JC’s performance and I’d highly recommend seeing him if you get the chance, and giving him a listen, I think I just had too high of expectations and I’m unsure whether or not they were met with the show I saw Tuesday night. For a debut tour, it was a great show. Hopefully we’ll see bigger and better shows in no time from JC.
Like I Did
Break My Heart
Too Many Nights
Rest Of My Life
Lying That You Love Me
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
Love Like That
I Need You to Hate Me
Space Hurts (Acoustic Unplugged)