Dev Hynes is something of a musical chameleon. At only 25 he’s tackled thrash punk (Test Icicles), indie pop (Lightspeed Champion) and in his latest musical incarnation Blood Orange, r&b. With its layered grooves and full sound, the thought of him replicating Coastal Grooves in a solo show was enough to bring on at least mild panic. But like all of his other projects, the gig was well and truly a success.
If Fleet Foxes and The Doors had a Radiohead obsessed child, they would sound a lot like openers Tehachapi . The harmonies were strong and the musicianship was good, but at times it felt as though the band are in need of an editor with long instrumental jams taking up too much space in many of their songs. A cover of Radiohead’s Last Flowers to the Hospital was a definite highlight lead by drummer Laura Christoforidis on vocals. They have a lot of potential.
Dev Hynes walks on stage wearing a lot of leather and the stage set up of a laptop, guitar and synth looks strangely bare. However all of that is forgotten once he opened his mouth. That voice. Incredible. Hard to believe that not that long ago he was having vocal surgery and now possesses a falsetto to rival Prince.
Singing over a backing track can easily turn into terrible karaoke, but Hynes used his guitar playing abilities and crowd interaction to his advantage. The stage never felt empty as he ran between each side of the room, and from the third song in he frequently leapt into the crowd to play a solo or even an entire song.
Lead single Sutphin Boulevard got the biggest reaction of the night while Forget It got everyone dancing. A new song was also trialled at the gig and, it appeared to Dev’s surprise, sounded fantastic. While some of the backing tracks sounded a little thin, it was hard to deny the talent or the quaility of the songs being played on stage.
When the time to end the night came around, the cheers for an encore were met with Hyne’s admission that he didn’t have any more tracks. Instead he packed up his gear while chatting to fans. And what more could you want out of a night than that?