Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Devi at Sullivan Hall, NYC 1/6/10

Ten PM showtime, the band hits the stage at about quarter after eleven. C’mon, Sullivan Hall, get your shit together.

In an Anna Sui print skirt (so says the fashionista) and shiny leather midriff coat, Devi frontwoman Debra looks like Christina Ricci with a guitar. “Am I too loud?” she asks the sound guy. Yes, he avers – too bad, she would have been able to blast the crowd to guitar nirvana.

Bassist Keith Maninno is clearly a rocker, bobbing and weaving and trading grins with his bandmates. Drummer John Hummel is all business until he interjects a boisterous John Bonham doublebass hit to wind up a verse; guest keyboardist Rob Clores plays tersely, impressionistically, interweaving organ or Rhodes voicings depending on the song and the mood. It’s obvious that he’s listened to this music, hard, and he wants to make what he does count – which should be a sine qua non but so often it’s not. The percussionist/backup singer doesn’t do much although he does check his voicemail during a song – twice. The band notice this and don’t like it very much.

The first song is Get Free, title track on the band’s new cd. Bass foreshadows the guitar, a jazz device – pretty sophisticated for a powerpop band. Big organ swell into a lightning blues guitar solo, and then down to just bass and drums.

Debra starts out Another Day, a riff-rocker, with a breezy Hendrix-style intro. The bassist is a ham but he’s good, building up to the end of a phrase while the organ swirls lushly.

Another riff-rocker gets a dizzying Jimmy Page treatment when it comes to the guitar solo, Clores’ organ smartly signaling the end. Although it feels too soon – she could have gone on for a lot longer and it would have been twice as fun.

When It Comes Down is the big jamout, this time they don’t go quite as long as they usually do but it still hits the spot. Debra is all dirty blues, trading accents with the drums which hint at doublespeed but don’t go there, loping along like a wounded rhino. A brief climb up the scale with some bleeding bent notes, and then down to bass and drums. And a stately, subdued ending. “We could do this all night but we wouldn’t want to torture you,” Debra grins. She’s being sarcastic and the crowd knows it.

A new song sounds like a cross between the Melvins and Patti Smith, a sludgy, dark epic about trying to talk sense to a cop at a protest and eventually having to dodge a charge by the mounted police.

Welcome to the Boneyard looks like it’ll be the highlight of the night, as usual. Clores plays with a haunting, watery setting – does he have a Leslie speaker up there? Debra lets her guitar hang, just sings it. It’s a 9/11 elegy and it’s awfully sad, and beautiful.

They bring things back up with All That I Need – it’s catchy and kinda funky with some cool electric piano to start it. Debra throws some quick signals at the band to wind it up, James Brown style.

“The mothership has landed,” she tells the crowd, deadpan, as Clores’ keys conjure up a spiky moonscape. This one’s new. The rhythm is tricky – is that 11/4? “Tired of waiting, tired of waiting.” Sunbaked blues with a slide, the drums trade off a few bars with the guitar and then it’s over, cold. They could have taken that one a lot further and it wouldn’t have hurt. They close it with a jangly, slinky Howl at the Moon and then their cover of Runaway with yet another solo that could have gone on twice as long. Always leave ’em wanting more.

January 11, 2010 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] the rest of the review here. And here’s a live review from Lucid Culture of one of our shows. Tell me the guy can’t write. […]

    Pingback by Get Free Makes “1000 Best Albums of All Times” | Devi | April 16, 2012 | Reply

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