Where: The Forge, Camden
Not many people know who Kevin Devine is, relatively speaking. But the guy has carved a career for himself that eclipses most artists. Performing with bands such as Brand New, Miracle of 86, Manchester Orchestra, and with his own The Goddamn Band and as a solo artist. That’s a hell of a CV.
Today is the first night of a 3-day tour of the UK in celebration of his upcoming album Instigator. As such he regarded this show as its official launch party. This is his first time playing at The Forge, but Kevin is no stranger to a London crowd, having played a number of it’s venues over the years; most recently as a support for The Front Bottoms at their sold out KOKO show. Stepping up to the stage he delivers his trademark opening phrase, “Hi, I’m Kevin Devine from Brooklyn, New York”. He then dives straight into the first track of the night, a stripped back version of ‘I Was Alive Back Then’, a nostalgia-soaked journey into his formative years. It’s a great song but as an opener it mellows the mood; he later mentions that he plans to use it as a closer for future sets- a wise choice.
However, other tracks from his new album such as ‘Instigator’, ‘No History’ and ‘Day Drunk’ are spliced into a set that appeases old and new fans alike. Kevin’s signature liberal politics have always been wound into his lyrics and tonight is no exception. The current political fiasco in the States makes its way into his chatter with a dedication of ‘Nobel Prize’ being made to Donald Trump, “Are you a nightmare? Or an oracle unavoidable?”
The crowd is silent and respectful to the one-man powerhouse on stage (all except a few who were humming or singing under the breaths), all eyes drawn to him. The hour and a half set was meant to be broken in two but Kevin doesn’t want to break his flow, “Go to the bathroom if you want guys, we’re all adults here”, before lapsing into a cover of Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying’; rest assured everyone stays seated for the duration. As the set draws to a close he muses about a past show in which a member of the audience critiqued the passion of fan-favorite ‘Brothers Blood’ as being “just ok”, before launching into the rawest and most personal rendition of the song that we’ve ever seen.
Once again Kevin offers an intimate evening allowing insight into the mind of a guy from Brooklyn. Oozing with humility and a litany of songs, this was a night to remember. I for one will be checking out his show with The Goddamn Band at The Dome on February 3rd and so should you.