Dean Lewis•Sara Kays•October 27, 2023•The Union
Reviewed and Photographed by Mark Daluz
On October 27th, Australian star Dean Lewis finally made his stop at the Union Event Center for his The Future is Bright tour and I was so excited to see him up close. Dean Lewis was a super favorite of mine a couple of years ago as multiple of his top hits helped me through tough times. I had the chance to see him last year at The Depot but unfortunately plans with friends didn’t work out and missed out on seeing him. However, getting the chance to finally see him live was one that I wasn’t going to take lightly.
I made my way to The Union a couple minutes after doors opened and I was baffled by how far I had to drive down to finally get a parking spot. I knew Dean Lewis was popular but I didn’t know how big of a fanbase he had in Utah. The venue was filled with mostly teens and younger children who were accompanied by their parents. This shocked me as I didn’t take Dean Lewis to be popular with the younger generation. However, this thought of mine found a solution while talking to one of the security persons there asking about who the opener was. She asked one of the concertgoers and said that Sara Kays was opening and that she was huge with the younger generation, explaining why there were so many children at the venue.
It didn’t take long for the clock to hit 8 o’clock, signaling Sara Kays to open the night. In the last couple of shows I’ve been to, the opener would take the stage in some flashy way (while trying not to out-do the headliner) so with no idea of Sara Kays and her concepts, I was thoroughly surprised to just see her bandmate Jesse walk to his guitar and Sara Kays follow suit. Sara Kay’s set was entirely acoustic which highlighted her soothing, calming voice. It seemed like I wasn’t at The Union but instead, Sara made the space intimate with everyone almost as if she was sitting next to a campfire with her closest friends.
Her set was short but sweet. She was a great compliment to Dean Lewis as she was captivating the audience and pure with her sound. Notable songs were “Backseat Rider”, “Bored”, and “Home for The Summer”. The songs were an ode to her as an artist who isn’t afraid of being straightforward about personal struggles, which I feel resonates with her younger audience. She ended with her viral song “Remember That Night?” which was the perfect song to leave the audience wanting more.
Minutes before Dean took the stage, screams radiated across the Union in anticipation. The front row of people tried to convince the audience that Dean was coming out by timing screams but failed as it was obvious it wasn’t time. Many “I love you Dean” could be heard across the venue. It hit 9 o’clock when the stage turned into an abyss of black which was accompanied by the screams of the two thousand now at the Union. The keyboard player was the first to take the stage followed by the drummer who were both silhouettes in the orange/redish lighting. The drummer used the kick drum to build to the climax of Dean making his appearance and with great effect, Dean could finally be seen making his way to the mic stand.
Dean Lewis & his crew exploded into the first song “Looks Like Me”. Uncontrollable screams deafened the first few lines of his until the screams turned into unison singing as it became apparent that everyone at the front knew every line of his songs. I could also see that a good chunk of the people out front had special VIP badges with them. I later learned from one of the VIP members that they had a handful of perks which included an intimate soundcheck experience, the signed VIP laminate, a group Q&A, lyric sheets, & photo sessions with Dean.
Dean stated that he wrote 20 songs about the same girl and while many of them were about heartbreak and sadness, he managed to be a jolly mate on stage. He went from each side of the stage to wave to his fans and read signs out loud with the biggest smile. Many times during his songs he would cut out to let the audience sing and say “Love your accent” which I gotta say is the most Australian thing to do but more credit to him. Early in his set, he teased his number one hit “Be Alright” would be coming up but that he would sing the sequel to Be Alright named “Hurtless”. That’s one thing I loved about the show, Dean took the time to thoroughly explain the meaning behind each song so the audience had a better understanding of the song.
“The Hardest Love” was about a friend of Dean’s who was more than a friend to not only Dean but his brothers too, who was referred to as their sister. She was incredibly proud of Dean for everything he did in life. Sadly, she passed away two years ago and he always dedicates the song to her and asked the audience to put up their phones during the climax. I’ve never seen the Union filled with so much light. More notable songs of the night were “Trust Me Mate”, “Lost Without You”, “How Do I Say Goodbye”, and his cover of “Yellow” by Coldplay. He finally ended the night with the long-awaited “Be Alright” which had the audience in a trance for the five minutes that hard-hitting song ran through. The crowd wanted more and came out for an encore where he played “Waves”. Officially, concluding the night.
Dean put up an acoustic masterclass sprinkled in with some moshpit excellence. He made sure everyone felt noticed and it was easily seen with how genuine he was with how he interacted with everyone. He referred to Utah as having the best energy on the tour and while I think he says that everywhere he goes, I wouldn’t doubt that he didn’t mean it. His songwriting has gotten so much better than when his songs were last topping my rotation which is always so refreshing. I went home that night happy as I finally got to Dean Lewis live while also waiting for his return to Utah. His future is bright and promising. I look forward to following his career.