Live Reviews

Live Review: Devendra Banhart at Shepherds Bush Empire in London on 15 Dec

By | Published on Monday 4 January 2010

Devendra Banhart

Unfolding within the regal surroundings of the Shepherds Bush Empire, the prince of modern folk Devendra Banhart casually ambles onto the stage with his backing band, The Groggs. Nonchalantly dispensing with a support act, they shuffle onto the stage in single file with the happy-go-lucky swagger of truant school boys.

A swirl of sporadic taps on the snare drum are knocked out by the drummer clad head to foot in a sensationally fluffy yeti costume, and gentle waves from shaking maracas blend with nomadically inspired acoustic melodies as the band set the tone with ‘Can’t Help But Smiling’. Devendra and the boys beam with their Cheshire Cat grins as they segue effortlessly into an assortment of songs from latest album, ‘What Will We Be’.

The sincerely delivered set encompasses everything from rustically woven folk ballads to barber shop harmonies. With the wide-eyed audience in the palm of his hands, The Groggs eventually exit the stage leaving Devendra to play a spate of solo acoustic songs. Sporting slim-cut denim jeans and a cabin boy’s woolly hat, he stands up and draws the microphone-stand closer to his torso. Tilting his head towards the microphone with the apprehensive sway of a first kiss, he delivers a sugarcoated monologue about the next song, ‘Paints Kismet In Experience’.

This intimate section of the show is brought to an end by thunderous shuddering from the bass drum and the band return to send the audience home with an amped up rendition of ‘Rats’, bringing to an electrifying close a show built on the unique candour of Banhart’s introspective lyrics. SG

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon