Kevin Devine played for a packed house at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan last night as the begining of Tropical Storm Hanna began to take hold over the city. The show was part of an ongoing tour featuring Matt Pryor (formerly of The Get Up Kids) along with Scott Matthew (of anime themesong fame).
Beer and Ballads were the theme of the night as the copious amount of plastic cups of lager were consumed leading to the ballroom actually smelling of alcohol. Matt Pryor proved to be a better live artist then his most recent album illustrated but after a half hour I felt like I may have contracted ballad sickness- a change of pace or an additional instrument could've saved the set. The songs were good but monotony began to set in as his set was ending around 11pm.
The main attraction began with a funny mock political speech about Kevin by a suit wearing friend who played it straight. Kevin took the stage with a vintage New York Mets jersey and two accompanying musicians and set the tone immediately with a fuller more layered sound. He really is a terrific songwriter and I have to give him credit for varying the topics of his songs and not letting relationships dominate all of his songs like so many others. The show featured songs with a variety of subjects- he covered everything from the current war and state of America in "Another Bag of Bones" to growing up in the boroughs in "Brooklyn Boy".
As the concert continued he brought a number of friends out on stage as the music drew into the early morning hours such as Carrie Brandenburg and the always soulful Jaymay. More than anything else Kevin has a strength in being relateable live and talked to the audience about everything from the Mets loss against the Phillies to his family to how McCain and Palin seemed creepy and out of touch (followed by a great rendition of "No Time Flat"). I had to leave before hearing my favorite song "It's Only Your Life" but the show was a great performance by a singer-songwriter who I expect to see more and more of in the coming years.