Busy promoting his upcoming live tour (which kicks off on New Years Day), Keith Barry can’t wait to resume touring.
Interacting with people at his shows is where he does his best job, after all. There aren’t many reports you can generate through a grainy laptop camera, and Zoom just doesn’t cut it when it comes to creating that electric atmosphere its performance has come to thrive on.
A mix of fear and excitement, audiences rarely know what to expect at a Keith Barry show… but it’s part of the thrill. While some are eager to volunteer and take the stage, others prefer to be invisible observers. For the latter group, even the thought to be singled out is enough to make them burst into hives. Are the nerves of the audience a help or a hindrance for Keith?
“SoI, the audience, am pretty nervous because they are afraid of being hypnotized into doing something stupid or afraid that I will hack their brains and reveal an embarrassing thought. I always get a mix of skeptics, believers, non-believers, nervous people, confident people, etc. which adds to the spontaneity of the show. If someone is too nervous to go on stage, I will always respect them and just choose someone else. Good to know for future reference, as I definitely count myself among the nervous nellies.
Already a well-established name, there are very few who are unfamiliar with Mr. Barry’s work. But fame comes at a price and many preconceptions follow it. “I think the major misconception is that I brain-hack all day long, even while walking down the street or having a meal in a restaurant,” Keith tells me. “While it’s true that no thought is really safe, I have the flexibility to toggle my brain hacking skills on and off as needed. So everyone can relax, ”he jokes. “I don’t hack brains all the time. It’s mostly on stage or at the bank when you’re trying to get a loan!
As for what initially drew him to mentalism? It’s an interest that started when he was just a boy, but really grew and developed during his college years. “My wife and I went to college together at NUI Galway [formerly University College Galway]. I was studying science at the time and she was studying psychology. I started reading his psychology books and learning about cognitive reframing, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), and autogeny. That’s when I started associating these techniques with my magic and delved deeper and deeper into the recesses of the human brain, ”admits Keith.
Soon to embark on his new Irish tour, this is his first round of live performances since the world essentially closed in March 2020. Well called Reconnected, the theme of the show “came completely from the pandemic” according to Keith. “I always thematize my shows quite strongly,” he says. “The last one was called Madness and ended in the whole audience raving like crazy! With this show I thought it was important to recognize how separated we have all been over the past 2 years and now is the time to reconnect.
“I found the initial lockdown the most difficult,” he admits. “It was so foreign to me not to be on tour, traveling and performing. However, I pivoted online and started presenting my virtual shows for large multinationals around the world, which kept me busy during the rest of the lockdowns we had. ”
Confirming that he is really excited to be able to meet people from IRL again, he said he “literally can’t wait to get back on the road”. “The tour starts January 1st at the Glenroyal Hotel [in Maynooth] and hits almost all counties in Ireland until mid-January. 2022 will be a very busy year for him, in other words… but as said before, it makes perfect sense on stage. “It’s in my DNA to be on stage,” he continues. “Being able to reconnect with people will be so much fun. The show is designed to reconnect people physically, spiritually and intellectually and it’s definitely my most ambitious show to date.
How? ‘Or’ What? Well, he’ll teach one half of the audience how to hack the other half’s brain “and literally crawl through their mind” to begin with. “Industrial grade staplers will be fired at my eyes, I will reconnect people with deceased loved ones, and a crossbow will fire arrows at 300 feet per second all over the stage.” Standard stuff, really.
Drawing inspiration from all kinds of different venues, the upcoming shows have been influenced by everything from movies to music and the art world. “Tony Sadar and Doc Shiels are excellent mentors to me and inspire me daily with their wisdom (Tony is one of Ireland’s very first stage hypnotists and Doc is one of the greatest surreal artists in the world) . ”
Now also a published author, his first book Brain hacks debuted at number three in the pocket-sized non-fiction category last week. “A lot of people probably don’t know that besides being an artist, I’m also a performance / mind coach for a variety of athletes and business people, ”he notes – and rightly so. because that’s something I’m surprised to learn about it too. “This has been a big part of my business for the past 15 years. I decided to distill the techniques I use on my clients, and indeed myself, into an easy-to-read book where there is literally something for everyone. If you want to improve your self-confidence, reduce your anxiety and stress, the book will come in handy.
“If you want to learn how to look like a real brain hacker, this book is for you. I also share many creative visualizations in the book that are essential in programming your mind to achieve the life you want. What is for you won’t escape you, but protesting helps ensure that he can find you a little faster.
Tickets for Keith Barry’s next one Reconnected tour are available for purchase through Ticketmaster now.