Every time Kevin Devine is in town, I always try to get down to a show. Whether he’s doing a solo performance or with his band backing, his live shows are always a pleasure to behold. He has the tunes, the voice and the charisma all rolled into one and to be honest, I don’t know many other songwriters that come close to him.
I was eager to make it down to the show at The Deaf Institute tonight as this full Euro/UK tour is in support of KD’s ninth album ‘Instigator‘, which I feel is his best album to date. It’s full of these brilliantly fuzzy pop songs that are ridiculously catchy and wouldn’t sound out of place on the first three Weezer records.
After three equally lovely acoustic support acts, Kevin sets up quickly and blasts through a moving rendition of early track ‘Ballgame‘. With the song being over a decade old, he updates the lyrics to fit in with his current way of thinking as opposed to the innocent yet angry teenager that wrote it. From the off, he has us in the palm of his hands.
After a quick hello, he launches into indie-rock anthem ‘Just Stay‘ as the other two members of his ‘Goddamn Band‘ set up behind him and join in half way through. It’s as uplifting and anthemic as you could wish for. From then on, the trio just keep them coming, hardly taking a breath in between songs, delivering all the punked up pop-rock hits!
The set obviously leans towards songs from the latest record, with tracks like ‘No Why‘ and ‘Magic Magnet‘ sounding as urgent and as fist-pumpingly fun as they do on record. We also get a big chunk of tracks off his most punk sounding record ‘Bubblegum‘, as tracks like ‘She Can See Me‘ and ‘Private First Class‘ still pack an almighty punch and ensure big singalongs.
Of course, there are plenty of reflective, thoughtful moments in the set, backed up with some eloquently spoken in-between song chatter about current affairs in America and living in a world of hope. From that we get songs like ‘No Time Flat‘, which recalls the days when Blair and Bush mucked things up and of course the poignant ode to 9/11 ‘No History‘, both of which are delivered with the utmost conviction and honesty from Kevin and band.
I have to say, his rhythm section are phenomenal. They put so much effort into every song, playing fast and hard and passionately as well as bringing some superb harmony work to KD’s huge choruses!
The band triumphantly leave the stage after a hectic version of ‘Cotton Crush‘ (a definite fan favorite), leaving Kevin to finish up tonight’s stunning set. Of course, he finishes it in style with the goose-pimple raising ‘Brother’s Blood‘ and new album track ‘I Was Alive Back Then‘. This is where his voice really shines as he throws it around the room and bewilders every single person watching.
There is no denying this man’s talent as a performer and songwriter and tonight he shows us all the reason why he is such a cult act, who will remain one of America’s finest and probably most underrated songwriters.