REVIEW: Derek Ryan brings country storm to Hunstanton

Derek Ryan on stage in Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Derek Ryan on stage in Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson - Credit: Cliff Donaldson

It was a night of foot-stomping melodies, country-pop choruses and a dose of Irish charm from Derek Ryan in Hunstanton.

Foot-stomping melodies as Derek Ryan wows Hunstanton.

Foot-stomping melodies as Derek Ryan wows Hunstanton. - Credit: Archant

The 35-year-old knew how to entertain a Friday crowd, with a mixture of classic hits, new songs and a poignant duet with his father.

It’s been a whirlwind of a few years for one of Ireland’s biggest stars, from gigging in London pubs to performing in front of thousands at Belfast’s Farmers Bash at The SSE Arena - Derek has made country music cool.

“It’s been a seven-year overnight success”, he tells me.

“My first number one album in Ireland opened the gateway for me to show what I’ve got as a songwriter.

“The theatres always take on a different dynamic, and I’ve played Hunstanton three times before and there’s a good feel about it.”

The evening starts with a bang as the crowd start clapping as the lights dim and he appears on stage with his band.

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Derek speaks with warmth to the audience about the release of his new album Ten, life on the road and stories behind the lyrics.

It’s not long before he jumps down from the stage and into the cheers of the stall-seated fans eager to give him a peck on the cheek.

Fan favourites God’s Plan, Life is a River and songs from the new album including I Do and tribute – To Waltz With My Mother Again – stir the emotions.

“It’s been a tough few months with the passing of my mam in July,” Derek says.

“To Waltz With My Mother Again was a track I wrote that I never thought I would perform, but I’ve got my dad here tonight for support too and that means a lot.”

Irish and country classics take the audience on a journey through the decades - from The Dubliners Whiskey in the Jar to Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and a modern day mash up of Avicii’s Wake Me Up and Walk the Moon’s Shut Up and Dance.

But the highlight of the evening came in the form of duet with his father to the lesser-known Abba classic The Way Old Friend’s Do.

Looking back, its no surprise that Derek has gone on to become the star that he now is.

In 2001 he was first thrown into the spotlight as part of boyband D-Side, scoring three top 10 singles in the UK supporting the likes of Blue and Westlife on tour.

He adds: “It was a great experience and showed me how the industry works.

“I learned that work ethic is very important. We got to tour Japan, all over Europe, meet some amazing people and even do Top of the Pops.

“Looking back I was a bit young for it back then and you think it will last forever. I don’t think I fully took it all in, so now I make sure I enjoy myself in the moment.”

And what a moment it was in Hunstanton.

Warm, infectious and feel-good, it was the ultimate start to the weekend.

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