Brett Dennen put on a fantastic show last night at the Turner Hall Ballroom. Despite being a Tuesday, the venue was packed to capacity with an electric atmosphere more typical of a weekend concert. The night began with Irish folk singer Foy Vance. The incredibly talented and multi-instrumental one-man band managed to incorporate guitar, cello, and piano into his 4-song set. However, Foy’s powerful vocals, reminiscent of Ray LaMontagne, was the real draw that set the tone for the rest of the show.
Picking up where Vance left off, Brett Dennen put on an enthusiastic and eclectic 18-track set that encompassed his wide collection of music. Starting with “Sweet Persuasion,” an upbeat track from his newest album, Dennen had the crowd feeling good and snapping along. Dennen then went on to showcase his musical range throughout the show, vacillating between peppy songs like “Get out of my Head” and more somber tunes such as “Who do you think you Are?” The show culminated with a trio of his bigger hits that completely brought the house down. “Wild Child,” “Sydney,” and “When we were Young” were all played in the latter portion of the event and capped the night in an epic way. Most notable was the response from the crowd during “Wild Child” in which Dennen could barely be heard amongst the screaming fans.
The biggest take away from the concert was the showmanship exhibited by the singer. It is easy to draw parallels between Dennen’s musical style and others who have come before. Paul Simon, one of Dennen’s inspirations, is pervasive in many of his songs. However, Dennen has truly come into his own in terms of exhibiting his unique style to the crowd in live performances. His swiveling hips and corky moves created a performance not seen previously. The audience last night really connected with the show because they were witnessing an artist who is totally himself. Despite using dance moves that expired several decades previous, the audience loved the showmanship because they knew it was just Brett being Brett. Brett Dennen’s performance was most definitely original and really brought Milwaukee to life on the cold Tuesday night.