Live Review: Kevin Devine and Katie Malco – The Lexington, London – 04/02/2014

Undeterred by the looming threat of tube strikes and horrid weather, many descend upon Islington’s famous Lexington venue this evening to catch Kevin Devine’s first visit to these shores in what, comparative to some of his exhaustive tours, has been aeons since the last opportunity to do so. However, before the Brooklynite takes to the stage in front of tonight’s sold-out crowd, support comes from London-based singer-songwriter and long-time Already Heard favourite  Katie Malco. The maltreatment of acoustic artists in some of London’s, ahem, “cooler” venues is a prominent issue, but the already busy room is reverent and quiet throughout her set (except, of course, to clap and cheer between songs), allowing Malco’s heart-rendering lyrics to take full effect. ‘September’ from last year’s piano-led EP ‘Tearing Ventricles’ is a stand-out, but the entire set is simply gorgeous, made all the more charming by her adorably neurotic between-song repartee. (4/5)

The last time I caught Kevin Devine was supporting Cursive at an aforementioned “cool” London venue (clue: it rhymes with “Embargo”) and the experience was unavoidably marred by the waggling of ignorant tongues. Thankfully, armed with only an acoustic guitar, Devine has the crowd in the palm of his hand from the off. It was somewhat of a surprise to find he was going solo on this tour considering his last three records have been made in a full-band environment, but songs from his recent efforts sound just as fantastic played on his own. The man is charm personified throughout, and even though tonight’s set is a lengthy one, it never once outstays its welcome. It’s a set filled with Devine’s natural warmth, with some welcome surprises; a brief lyrical “shoutout” to The Front Bottoms and an Elliott Smith cover (‘The Biggest Lie’) are well-received, and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard snippets of Metallica’s ‘One’ played on acoustic guitar. No matter how many times you may see it played live, his penultimate number ‘Brother’s Blood’, the eponymous track of his 2009 album, never fails to send a frisson up one’s spine and cause the hairs to raise from the arm, and a closing ‘Ballgame’ ensures tonight’s crowd get home in any way they can on a high note. KevDev promises to “be back real soon” during the set; we can only hope he does so and brings his ‘A’ game like he did tonight. A delightful way to spend a Tuesday evening in the company of such magnetic artists and people; some little bloke called Prince may have grabbed the headlines with a secret set down the road, but truly, nothing compares to these two. (4.5/5)

4.5/5

Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)

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