#11 | Deni Smith – King Tuts #KTNYR19


PHOTOS: Sean Francis

Opening up the night was the first of 2 on the bill who were brand new to us, that being Keir Gibson from Fort William, so there were no expectations coming in, but the final result was one of the biggest surprises of the NYR so far.

Supplying original material like his own “soppy song” Wasting My Love, the engrossing Column and the magnetic For Me, he showcased one of the most pure, raw voices that we have heard over the course of this entire festival, being sharp and powerful, particularly as he moved into the choruses, plus the writing was fantastic and just flooded out with genuine emotion.

He used a bass drum pedal to provide beats which had us tapping our toes, while his friend played some nice keys that helped contributed to the melodies.

It was Keir’s official debut at Tuts, and notably the first time some of his family got to see him in action, and even when a little jittery, he battled through the nerves to deliver a significant set that personally had us taken aback, receiving unanimously positive feedback from relatives and strangers alike, and earning a hell of an ovation upon his exit.

Anyone seeking a worthwhile discovery and who happens to come across Keir, do not pass him up.

Riley, aka Niamh Dobie, flew into our radar quite recently and it didn’t take much for her to strike a chord with us, as she has with others as of late, and the evidence as to why that is was demonstrated on this very night.

deni - riley 001

She looked and sounded a star. Her harmonies were sweet, and she was also loose and quite expressive, a trait so often taken for granted, as it makes for a more engaging performance, as proven here.

deni - riley 002

Between the likes of the romantic Slow Burning Heart, the New York-themed High Line and the lyrically inspiring Shine, all of her country/pop-influenced songs were brought to life via the great rhythms produced by her really fine backing band, which included her dad as stand-in bassist and Timmy, known best to us from Awkward Family Portraits, who for our money easily ranks as one of the city’s most natural guitarists.

deni - riley 003

An utterly charming performance that effortlessly had an abundance of people in attendance sucked in from end to end, ourselves included, and this came courtesy of a promising individual who left us with a smile.

Matt Spicer was the other act fresh to us, but we had heard on good authority about what the guy had to bring to the table, and those sentiments turned out to ring true here.

He was a sensational singer with extensive vocal capabilities, and a multi-talented fella too as he displayed both slick riffs and crisp acoustics where necessary.

deni - matt

The sound of his content sparked this gleaming atmosphere that had an embracing drawing power, carried forth by the wavy melodies, and these elements were elevated by his fellow musicians, who provided stunning cello work, warm keys and flowing rhythms.

His new track Tired had us reeled in, and he nailed his cover of Coldplay’s Trouble too, so he might have converted a few of their detractors to the side of fandom.

It was overall stimulating stuff from a guy who certainly lived up to his praises, and we leave you with an important lesson that he shared – “we’ll all be dead in 70 years, so who cares?”

After following her for a number of years across social media, it was now time to finally see Dunfermline’s Deni Smith live for the first time on stage. The room was packed and eager as she got ready, and once she did get going, she instantly made an impression.


For starters, what a voice. No seriously, what a voice! Her vocals were tremendous and indescribably radiant, plus she was a fluent guitarist and a writer of wonderful lyrics at that. Deni was purely organic and fully confident, with absolutely no etch of ego lying underneath.


She had a knack for crowd control too, and speaking of which, the people did not hide their feelings towards her in the slightest. They were just in love and answered with deafening cheers, stomps and dancing.

She was joined by “the good guys”, comprising of George and his neat bass lines, Chris and his properly solid drumming, and the returning Tim, who was doing double duty following his appearance in Riley’s entourage, and he shined once again. As a tight unit, they formed some incredibly melodic and catchy pieces that grabbed us without fail, and it has to be said that Deni’s rendition of Turn Me On was beautifully flawless.


It was all so good, and we would honestly have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for anything negative to say, but we couldn’t muster anything. This was simply unbelievable, and will go down as one of the most, if not THE most, pivotal and definitive highlights of the 2019 festival.


What an experience to be involved in; one that left us with a heck of a buzz as we left the building. Deni is in dire need of wider public exposure sooner than later, because she is undeniably special.




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