Kevin Devine @ Birmingham Academy 3 – 4th December 2009


Christmas has come early for those at the Academy 3 tonight as the Big Scary Monsters Christmas Tour stops off in Birmingham bringing with it Shoes and Socks Off and Kevin Devine both signed to the independent record label. Its stripped down, festive affair tonight with all the acts playing acoustically and with crackers being pulled and paper hats being worn with pride!

The first support is already playing when I arrive, being 5 minutes late and only thinking there was 2 bands playing tonight things seem to be running annoyingly time due to the 9.45 curfew. I learn midway through the set they are called Henry’s Children a local band playing an acoustic set. With 3 members, 2 guys, one girl they play a good set, the lead has a great voice and the piano with it’s simple melodies adds that extra something and with some great harmonies provided by the female singer complimenting the singers voice nicely they put on a pretty good show.


Next up on stage is Shoes and Socks Off; it’s one man, a beard and his guitar. With no introduction and pretty much no crowd interaction Toby Hayes powers through his short set with sparse guitar and vehement lyrics. He has been described as being anti-establishment and that definitely shines through tonight but for all the wrong reasons as he manages to annoy the entire audience during Kevin’s set by talking really loud at the bar. It’s a shame really because he was something a bit different, not your average run of the mill singer songwriter.

Its 8.20 and Kevin Devine is wandering around the venue trying to find the sound guy who seems to have gone AWOL! However it’s not too long to wait and Kevin takes to the stage with no introduction and goes straight into ‘Brothers Blood’, it’s a hauntingly vulnerable rendition and even when not using his microphone he voice travels tantalisingly across the crowd. He then introduced himself ‘Hi I’m Kevin Devine and I’m from Brooklyn, New York’ he then heads straight into ‘Brooklyn Boy’. He plays a varied set including ‘Cotton Crush’, Yr Husband’, ‘Tomorrows Just to Late’ and ‘Carnival’.


Kevin Devine is very good at interacting with crowd and is a very funny guy getting a few laughs after revelations that his views on climate change are that it’s ‘scary and real!’ and pulling crackers with members of the audience after being told what to do with one! ‘Bag of Bones’ is pretty spectacular and with covers of Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Holland 1945’ and ‘The sun will come out tomorrow’ thrown into the mix his amazing vocal talents are shown off. Closing with ‘Lord, I know we don’t talk’ the crowd have witnessed something a bit special tonight the only down point being the rudeness of a small minority of people speaking over him, why go to a gig, especially an acoustic one if your going to talk through the entire set?

Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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