If you had to pick only one Kevin Devine song, what would it be?
That’s what Kevin tasked the audience with on Monday night at St Pancras Old Church (btw, there are two St Pancras churches, the other is St Pancras Parish Church, don’t go to the wrong church like I did!).
150 pieces of paper with a single unique number written on them were distributed to each fan upon arrival. In true bingo caller fashion, Kevin picks a number and who ever has that number gets to request a song of their choice.
96 to choose from. And that’s just the number of songs from his eight full length albums, not counting B-sides, EPs, Bad Books etc. I mean, how often does he practice playing and singing songs like Tapdance from Make The Clocks Move?
I watched Kevin play an acoustic solo set in Brighton in August. Watching him play solo again, I wonder how much of his arrangement is planned and how much is ad libbed, being there in the moment and just feeling the song.
There were the usual suspects like Brothers Blood and Ballgame, but also some left field picks like Splitting Up Christmas and Murphy’s Song, songs Kevin might not necessarily pick for normal sets and songs I don’t listen to on a regular basis either.
And that’s one of the many reasons which made the gig so interesting and unique. I absolutely loved the idea. Putting fans in control, it was also interesting to hear what one track they had selected. Listening to the lyrics I tried to guess what emotional connection and tie that person might have had with their chosen song.
Kevin (somehow) honoured all requests, even managing the chorus of Buddy Holly by Weezer, a line of Where Is My Mind by The Pixies and Pyotr by Bad Books (which he didn’t write or sing originally but still knew all of the words. I doth my cap to you sir.
And there was still time for his wonderful stories and anecdotes. It probably won’t come as a surprise that he’s a great storyteller, just look at the lyrics in his songs for evidence.
He told us all manner of things including:
- background to songs
- when a drug dealer advised him he might want to stop
- the time someone gave him ‘constructive criticism’ to never play as three band again
- Amnesty International rejecting Another Bag of Bones because it was ‘too political’
- and someone in his old band Miracle 86 told him the acoustic guitar was gay (thank heavens Kevin didn’t quit the acoustic guitar there and then!)
Kevin said he wasn’t going to do much talking at the beginning of the set so he could play more songs, but I’m glad he did. If, on the off chance, a book publisher is reading this, please get in touch with Kevin so he can write his memoirs or something – it would be fantastic and hilarious.
A memorable night requires a special venue and setting. St Pancras Old Church was just that. I sat in the sunny garden for a bit and enjoyed the wonderful details in the architecture as I queued. Inside, the church was dimly lit while a depiction of Jesus on the cross provided a surreal backdrop.
My number was nearly called out. Twice. What would I have picked? I ummed and ahhed for a while but I don’t think I would have any regrets with my final decision. No Time Flat.
Although I love the slow burner Carnival. The chorus to Little Bulldozer is so catchy. So too is The First Hit. But I do love a sing a long to You Wouldn’t Have To Ask…
I did begin to take a note of what songs were selected, but I soon forgot as I was enjoying myself too much… But here is what I can remember from my somewhat unreliable memory.
- Brooklyn Boy
- Billion Bees
- Just Stay
- Brothers Blood
- Murphy’s Song
- Kings Crossing (Elliot Smith cover)
- Splitting Up Christmas
- I Used To Be Somebody
- Another Bag Of Bones
- Never Stops
- Fever Moon
- Cotton Crush
- Noose Like A Necklace
What one Kevin Devine song would you have picked? Tell me in the comments section below!