It’s a drizzly Friday evening, and Tufnell Park tube station looks semi-deserted after the rush hour. The weekend has just started and those Friday vibes are in the air while I walk down the street, glancing at the pubs around. The venue is one of those places I like the most for some live music. Cosy and warm, The Dome gives you that sense of connection with whoever artists are up on stage. At the prospect of seeing Kevin Devine, honestly I couldn’t ask more.
I’ve only had a few swigs of my beer when Thomas George, aka The Lion And The Wolf, shows up and picks his acoustic guitar. Thomas is a Londoner who was born and bred just at the other end of Dartmouth Park Hill and he looks like the kind of friend we all would like, for how funny and nice he’s on stage when interacting with his audience. He sings a few of his classics and songs off his brand new album, ‘The Cardiac Hotel’. His crushing melancholy becomes the highlight of the first part of the night. Right after him, Laura Stevenson gets on stage. Some sorts of gloomy vibes spread as well during her acoustic set, and she’s smiley and sweet, while she go through her setlist.
It’s half past nine when Kevin Devine takes the stage. No special effects, it’s all like I had imagined it to be, starting from the electro-acoustic opening ‘Ballgame’. Kevin sings in a way that is loud and fragile at the same time, one of the trademarks of his innate style. The atmosphere suddenly changes and The Dome is now all eyes on its fellow New Yorker from Brooklyn.
Devine’s lyricism and sound have always been notoriously introvert, inclined to examine the intricacies of the human spirit, as well as political themes. ‘Just Stay’ and ‘She Can See Me’ fill the emotional baggage, right before the whole backing band – The Goddamn Band – joins him for a fast-paced series of hits off Kevin’s most acclaimed studio albums. ‘Instigator’, as well as ‘No Why’, ‘Off Screen’, ‘I Could Be With Anyone’ are the highlights, then the setlist gets quieter and more introspective once again. The singer plays a delightful electro-acoustic version of an old song by his band Miracle Of 86. ‘Every Last Famous Word’ is one of those moments that make me feel good about myself; when the power of music and genuine, fearless feelings find a common ground.
Straight after the pressing ‘Daydrunk’, ‘No History’, and ‘Redbird’, another soulful electro-acoustic mini-set brings the night to an end. Devine sings ‘Brother’s Blood’ and ‘I Was Alive Back Then’ and the audience looks visibly moved. Kevin is thankful to everyone, from the supporting acts to the whole staff, for a “beautiful tour which has come to an end”.
I had some expectations, knowing of Kevin Devine’s mercurial talent as a songwriter and as a musician. I can still taste the sweetness of a night of music where folk, punk, rock ‘n roll and emocore got blended in the same room. It all happened naturally, softly and in a spontaneous way. Not to mention that urge I felt for the whole length of the gig, to close my eyes and sing along to those anthemic songs brought to life on stage by an extraordinary talent.