Live Review: Cursive & Kevin Devine – Ruby Lounge, Manchester – 04/06/12

Approaching the venue I’m suddenly hit with the realisation that I’ve never been to Ruby Lounge before. I’m often excited about venturing into new musical spaces but this one left so much to be desired. Arriving inside and there are, much like Underworld in Camden, pillars in the middle of the room. It’s obviously very impractical and for the turnout I was expecting tonight somewhat of a liability. Anyways, after accquiring a drink and enjoying the musical playlist of, I can only presume to be one of the crew members, Kevin Devine takes the stage.

Having only found out about an hour or so previous to leaving my house that Kevin Devine was playing, I was understandably excited to see him. The last time was about 3 years ago at Retro Bar, a long way away from how he now had fine tuned his act and played beautifully and professionally. If you’re not aware of Kevin Devine, you’re missing out, but a small introduction here anyways. Kevin’s a singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, New York. He mostly takes his influences from acts such as Elliot Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Bright Eyes.

His blend of real honest music is definitely captivating to watch. He played a wonderful mix of all his albums. Highlights included ‘Cotton Crush’ from his 2005 record, ‘Split The Country, Split The Street’ and ‘Off Screen’ from his 2011 record, ‘Between The Concrete And Clouds.’ His empathetic and glowering introspective style left me feeling like I’d witnessed something special and it would be a hard act to follow. The crowd that actually watched Kevin play seemed as captivated as myself and I notice a lot of positive whispers from people who had obviously not seen him play before.

Only a mere 15 minutes later and Cursive take to the stage. What can only be described as a melodic mess of indie rock, my excitement at this point is beyond expression. Having been a band that have been around a long time, but rarely had I got the chance to see them.

Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska and having been formed in 95, totalling 7 studio albums, they had plenty of material to choose from. The first half of their set was quite a relaxed affair. Maybe half due to the new album, ‘I Am Gemini’ being heavily played, but also, it just seemed very quiet.

The second half, the volume was hightened, and the crowd really began to participate. This is where Cursive shine, in their older material. Highlights included ‘Big Bang’ from their 2006 record ‘Happy Hollow,’ and ‘Art Is Hard’ from their 2003 record ‘Ugly Organ.’

The venue is definitely a factor in their performance tonight. I can’t help but think a smaller more intimate show would’ve been a wise move, but despite this, Cursive captivate the people that are there. Having been a band for a long time, it shows in their act, but this is a positive rather than a negative. They haven’t changed their show, they haven’t become jaded with time. They seem as enthusiastic as a band just starting out and just as humbled by the crowd tonight. I definitely leave the venue tonight thinking that I have witnessed an amazing show. I however, cannot help the niggling feeling that perhaps in another venue, this could’ve been a really rare and special evening.

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