Dean Lewis enchants fans in concert last week

Dean Lewis forms a heart with his hands, showing it to the audience. He engaged with the audience multiple times throughout the show in this manner, creating a connection with the crowd. // Photo by Venusha Buwaneka Student Publications

After passing through the security  and ticket checks, the audience enters the grand Buckhead Theater. The main floor slants downwards towards the stage, and people gather towards the front, filling up the whole theater.

The lights dim down entirely. Slowly, a young woman walks out onto the stage, holding an acoustic guitar, followed by a man holding a guitar of his own. The woman, Sara Kays, is the opener for the show and a fledgling artist attempting to share her original music with the world. 

As a faint white spotlight shines on her from above, Kays begins performing “Show Me Off,” singing directly into a mic and strumming her guitar. She seems visibly nervous during the first song, but her backup guitarist on stage gives her approving looks, encouraging her to keep going. Midway through the song, the beat of the bass finally hits, rocking the ground and the audience. She ends her first song, receiving a loud ovation from the audience, and continues to perform her next song from the set.

She sings with a beautiful and mellifluous voice that tugs at the heartstrings of the people. The audience sways back and forth, subtly nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the beat. Her music emanates a nostalgic and emotional feeling that really captivates the attention and emotions of the listeners. 

At the end of one of her songs, one of the audience members at the front of the stage gives her a small gift that she graciously accepts and thanks them for. Before each of her songs, she provides a little backstory about the song’s origin, and the backstories  are usually relatable to most people. One of her songs, “Chosen Last,” is about being the left-out friend walking behind the group because there isn’t enough space on the sidewalk, and another one of her songs, “Smaller Than This,” is about suffering from body image doubts. 

After a couple of her songs, she unexpectedly begins singing a cover of Owl City’s “Fireflies,” making the audience cheer loudly and happily. Everyone begins singing along to the lyrics, and the whole atmosphere during that moment is truly wholesome.

Finally, she ends her time on stage with one of her own recent singles, “Remember That Night?” It is a slow, sad and sweet song, and the lights across the whole theater flicker to the beat, which reverberates through the audience’s bodies. This creates an immersive and romantic experience during the final song. She thanks the audience with a huge smile, expressing her love for all of them and exits the stage.

The minutes slowly tick by, and audience members file in and out of the theater to buy refreshments. Eventually, the lights across the theater dim down, bringing the whole concert hall to complete darkness.

Suddenly, flickering blue lights emanate from the stage, shining directly on audience members. Then, blasts of yellow light shine, matching the strumming of a guitar from the middle of the stage. Finally, the spotlight shines on Dean Lewis, draped in slick black pants and a sleek black shirt with rolled-up sleeves. 

He begins singing outright, playing his guitar while singing confidently and passionately, the audience screaming loudly at his entrance. It is a beautiful and dramatic entrance with a mesmerizing light show. 

Lewis does not just play the guitar while he sings. He almost “dances” — stepping back and forth, twisting his legs and trotting around the stage. He moves around and rocks his body with extreme energy and passion, all while singing and strumming his guitar. The audience is captivated by not just his music but also by his presence and the way he moves. As Lewis performs, he sometimes even stops singing to let the screaming audience fill in the lyrics.

With that, he ends his first song, “Looks Like Me,” and he is greeted with enormous applause and loud screams from across the theater. He continues on to his next song, “Small Disasters,” from his latest album, “The Hardest Love.” 

Nearly all of his music is about heartbreak and loss — a motif that resonates deeply with anyone who has loved and lost. As he sings, it is not just words that come out of his mouth. His lyrics carry his emotions — love, pain and sorrow. The audience can really feel this; it pulls them in and creates a bond between the music and listeners. 

Lewis’ performance is frankly one of the most captivating performances ever. Beyond just the depth and power of his music, the way he struts across the stage and the passion he sings (nearly screaming at times) are alluring and engrossing, making it nearly impossible not to fall in love with the music and artist.

For his third song, Lewis begins with a short anecdote. He says he went on two dates — one was “great” and the other was “f*cked” — and he wrote this song during the cab ride home. Then, he begins singing one of his most popular songs: “7 Minutes.” The audience goes wild, yelling and screaming when they realize this after hearing the first new notes. Everyone begins singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs. During the chorus, the entire theater sings together and claps their hands to the beat. 

At the end of each song, Lewis throws the guitar pick he used into the audience, so at the end of every song, people would outstretch their arms, attempting to grasp the pick first. 

After performing “7 Minutes,” Lewis converses with the crowd and confesses that the next 20 songs he’s about to sing are all about the same girl. Although he is playful with his words and attitude, there is an undertone of pain and struggle that — although it cannot be heard — can be felt. He then teases the audience to believe that his next song, “Be Alright,” is going to be his greatest hit and his call to fame. Instead, he puts his guitar down and promises he will play that song eventually, but not right now. He proceeds to walk to the piano backstage, sits on the piano bench and begins playing the melody of “Hurtless,” before singing the lines of the song. As he performs “Hurtless” and reaches the chorus, the lights begin shining in sync with the
beat of the drums.

He then plays a few more songs on the piano before switching back to the guitar to play “Stay Awake.” While Lewis is quite skilled with the piano, he is far more mesmerizing with the guitar, as he is able to dance across the stage, rocking his body to the tune of the song and energizing the whole venue. 

Lewis shares stories about his songwriting process and personal experiences, which makes his music even more relatable to all the members of the audience. For one of his songs, Lewis shares that the upcoming song was dedicated to a girl who died two years ago. 

After sharing this, he requests that everyone take out their phones and shine their flashlights in honor of her as he performs “The Hardest Love.” It is a wholesome, monumental and honoring moment with all the audience shining their lights towards the stage as Lewis sings the lines of this sad ballad. 

However, the concert does not solely consist of songs about romance and heartbreak. Aside from constantly throwing guitar picks into the audience, Lewis’ unique actions keep the performance interesting, lively and unique to his shining personality.

Throughout the concert, he makes a heart with both hands and finger hearts with his thumb and index fingers. Whenever the audience sings along with him, he screams, “I love your accent,” given his own voice has a distinct Australian accent. In between one of his songs, he briefly sings happy birthday to one of the audience members.

Lewis also sings one of his songs with Kygo without any instruments — just his voice. While singing, he abruptly leaps off the stage and jumps into the audience. He sweeps across the front of the crowd, stretching his arms into the audience and letting people hold him and hug him. Once he gets back on stage, the lights go crazy, turning completely dark during the quiet parts of the song and suddenly blazing brightly during the pick-up of the beat.  

The whole concert feels like an otherworldly, ephemeral experience; time melts away, and everyone is completely engrossed in the music and in Lewis himself. Nearly all his songs sounded better live. He proceeds to play some more of his greatest hits like “Half A Man” and some of his newest releases like “Trust Me,
Mate” on the piano.

After that, he unexpectedly switches back to the guitar. He begins playing a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” His cover is more slow, romantic and melancholic, matching his characteristic talent for creating nostalgia. Towards the chorus, he goes into a sudden rise as Sara Kays joins him back onstage. He finally performs his last song and most popular hit of all-time, “Be Alright,” on the piano at the end. This song elicits the loudest and most excited response from the crowd.

As he ends the night and walks off stage, the audience cries out loud, yelling for one more song. Lewis surprisingly returns with his guitar and a full-size American flag in hand. He runs across the stage with the flag, waving it before wrapping it around his neck and performing his final song, “Waves.”

Throughout the whole concert, Lewis sang, strummed and danced with sincere passion, emphatic strength, utmost grace and pure emotions. He truly is one of the most charming and charismatic performers with the ability to completely captivate a crowd and make them fall even deeper in love with his music. 

Atlanta was lucky to have him for a magical night.