Kevin Devine – North Star Bar, Philadelphia Pa.

Kevin Devine was brought to my attention by a friend of mine during my freshman year of college (the very same which Devine is also an alumnus of), and it’s been one of the greatest musical gifts I’ve ever received. I have been a loyal fan ever since.

Last night I was lucky enough to see Devine for the second time in a week, after having seen his sold out, headlining show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom this past Saturday. At Bowery, Devine was backed by the Goddamn Band and the show had enough energy to power the entire island of Manhattan. That night he made an announcement that his upcoming tour would be a solo endeavor since it’s tough to bring the entire band on the road. Any Kevin Devine first timers in attendance at Bowery on Saturday might have found it difficult to imagine Devine by himself on stage belting out tunes, but I have come to know his solo show as one of the most emotional and amazing events I’ve ever seen on a stage.

As soon as Kevin Devine steps out onto an empty stage, his vulnerability is immediately noticed, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Last night he started off the set with a new song, “Time To Burn,” which not only blatantly and proudly displayed his left-of-center political beliefs, but gave the crowd something to cheer on as they digested his weighty lyrics. He seemed slightly uncomfortable, if not outright nervous, until halfway through the set when he performed “Burning City Smoking,” another song which voices his political insights.

One of my favorite things about attending a Kevin Devine concert is Devine’s ability to keep songs he wrote five years ago relevant to his current life by changing key words and adding strategically-placed lines. Anyone who’s been listening to Devine since the beginning can tell from his most recent additions what is happening in his life, and it’s something that bring him closer to his audience. In the fourth verse of “No Time Flat,” he recognizes the United States’ changing attitude towards the Middle East as he sings, “I curse and I curse / At what we fucked up in Iraq. / You say support the troops / I do! I want them all brought back. / And as the drum beats towards Iran / I feel history repeating.” of which the last two lines are recent additions.

Devine’s method of changing lyrics around to fit with current events also occurs with his more personal songs, casting light onto the deeply emotional events surrounding him. In “Just Stay,” Devine changed a single word and was able to express his inner pain: the word “things” became “her” in the second to last verse and the whole tone of the song embodied “How I wanted her that way.” The next song in the set, “A Flatline Blur,” also featured emotionally gripping lyrics added to very end. Following the written last lines of “A little denial never hurts” came “It helps us figure out what we’re worth” highlighting Devine’s self doubts in a troubling time. The most emotionally raw altering of lyrics came in “Cotton Crush” as opening lines became more personal as Devine substituted third person pronouns with the first person: “You’re friends won’t wait, / So don’t believe that shit, / When they say they’ll wait. / Trust me; my friends did not wait for me.” It’s this honesty and vulnerability that allows Devine to maintain such a devout fanbase

Devine know he’s got a good thing in his fans. He mentioned halfway through his set that he was signed to a major label only to be dropped four months later, which should have ruined his career but he’s been touring for the past year and a half and is in the process of creating a new album. Devine has been demoing a new CD and will be posting a rough demo on his MySpace page once every 7-10 days during the duration of his tour and will more than likely be recording the new record this summer.

Whether a folky and acoustic solo show or a high-energy, plugged-in one in with the Goddamn Band, Kevin Devine is not to be missed. Head to Kevin Devine’s MySpace page to find a show near you!

Setlist: Time To Burn (new), Damned Old Dad, You’re Trailing Yourself, No Time Flat, Burning City Smoking, Just Stay, [15 seconds of] Ignition (cover), A Flatline Blur, Go Haunt Someone Else, Cotton Crush, Murphy’s Song (new), Tapdance, Brooklyn Boy

Kevin Devine myspace

[where: 2639 Poplar Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130]

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One Response

  1. […] Kevin Devine: myspace | live review […]

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