Devon Graves

Drugstore, Athens - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

”Step inside, the Devon train is about to leave! And you want to be on it.”
- Devon Graves (guitar/vocals)


Yes, we were back at the Drugstore bar in Athens for another night of what we could only imagine to be a repetition of the awesomeness we had witnessed here just the night before. In part because Mr. Graves had finished last night off by asking how many of us were coming again (to my surprise not everyone yelled out ‘me’), and excusing that we were just going to get the same thing over again, because that’s what he had. Ha, no problem for me, that’s for damn sure!

On that note, Graves opened the night by greeting a few of the faces he did recognize from the night before, and again said that he hoped he wouldn’t bore us by playing the same stuff again. Here I was pleased to hear that there was a resounding “hell no” (I’m paraphrasing) in reply, and I do believe it also pleased the artist (can’t imagine why it wouldn’t).
All in all, the crowd was a bit larger this night, but it was still far from crowded in the small bar. Mostly people were standing around the bar and against the wall, or sitting by the four or five tables that were put out, some still had simply taken up sitting in front of Graves directly on the floor. The latter was probably the most appropriate way of enjoying this show, as it was such a stripped down and relaxed deal, and I curse my stiff body for not letting me enjoy it in this manner in a comfortable (or even bearable) way.
You see, what we had in front of us was a skilled artist (and I’m not just going to call him musician, because what he does transcends the (relatively speaking) simple skill of just making notes hang together, and take you to places where there normally would be no access), doing exactly what he loves to do, and in the simplest yet possibly most touching form.
Ok, I’m ranting on, what I came from was the audience. I liked the audience tonight, more so than that of the first night, and that was because the audience tonight was faster to respond to the music and the performance! For one thing, we got quite a few sing along moments this night, and there were also some fast responses to the little quizzes and comments Graves made; one man guessed Lady Of Rain after Graves said he would play a piano piece from The January Tree so quickly that Graves had to ask if he had been there the evening before, which he hadn’t. I later guessed Someday when it was time for that one, but he recognised me, so no points there I’m afraid...

Actually, I easily noticed that Graves wasn’t commenting nearly as much this night as he had done the previous one; most of the songs were played more or less directly following the previous one, and it was only in a few places where Graves felt he had something important enough to stop the music for mentioning. It was a bit sad, as it had been a good part of the show the other night, just listening to what he had to say, and I was missing it tonight, on my own behalf and on the behalf of the people who were seeing it for the first time now.
I did say he had kept a few comments though, and again we got the most important one, which was of course his speech about the record industry, how they were becoming too greedy which thus increased the amount of pirated music, and ending on the mentioning of his coming site where he would from now on post all the music he made (except for the Psychotic Waltz stuff which will still be released in a traditional way). On a slightly unrelated note, he also mentioned that after the business with Psychotic Waltz (you know, them getting back together and all), he had dismissed the idea of a band ever being truly split up, which of course gave some hope for the Deadsoul Tribe fans in the room.

Most of the songs tonight were of course also from the Deadsoul Tribe era of his career, as he again explained that these were the songs he knew how to play.
There were some minor differences to the day before though, for instance Regret had been replaced by Goodbye City Life (an excellent choice), the Lennon cover Imagine and the Cooper cover I Never Cry had changed positions with each other, and finally, we were handed another (not just one, but one more!) encore song which had not been on the actual setlist! This was due to the many shouts of the enthusiastic audience, which even had sung a self-written Buddy Lackey cheer anthem after the last regular song!
So, after once more giving us We Used To Know by Jethro Tull, Graves mentioned that there was one favourite artist of his that he hadn’t covered before, but if we would be so kind as to look past all the mistakes, he would like to give it a go (actually this was first said before playing Drift, but the same rules applied here) with a Hendrix song. Little Wing was the song of choice, and it was well received by all as far as I could tell.
There was actually one more, but I can’t give you a name for it, as I don’t know it, and frankly don’t even think it has a name; after the drinking pause which ensued Someday, the gig was started anew with Graves jamming on an old song of his which he has never published (another one for the coming site maybe?), which was mellow and really nice as well.

It was a more relaxed Devon Graves we saw this evening, and even though he hadn’t exactly struck me as tense before, there was still a subtle but noticeable change. My guess is that it was because he was in good time for this night, at the spot before the doors opened even, or maybe it was the little, warm drinks he kept ordering from the bar that made difference.
Either way, it also made an involuntary impact on the playing; luckily without losing much of the atmosphere, he was still making more mistakes in his playing and singing this night, more in number and more noticeable (mostly because he would stop up and apologise after making them).
For instance, in Fear he stopped some way into where the second verse should have been, and commented that he had accidentally sung the second verse first, and to correct it he had tried to sing the first one second, but that hadn’t worked out so he asked if he could do it over (you can guess the answer to this one I think).
In Under The Weight Of My Stone he started out on the wrong chord, and during Just Like A Timepiece the amplification messed up somehow, creating a short, squeaky feedback which threw us slightly out of the feeling in the song.
More than making him mess up from time to time though, the relaxed feeling gave him the chance to delve even deeper into the feeling of each song and give even more of himself to the audience. In Some Sane Advice he pushed his barstool back so that he could give more power to the third verse, and during I Remember and My Grave the combined singing of Graves and the audience gave the songs such a lift that they reached a whole new level of awesomeness!

Even with the aforementioned (and a few others) little hiccups going on though, there was no mistaken that Devon Graves once more managed to completely enchant his audience, and the fact that it was a bit livelier this evening only elevated the show as a whole even further in my eyes. All mistakes aside, the only regret I have is that he wasn’t booked for a third night at the Drugstore...

Setlist:

Toy Rockets (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Time (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Windsong
Some Sane Advice (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
Lady Of Rain (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Goodbye City Life (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Someday (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Untitled
...Into The Spiral Cathedral (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Just Like A Timepiece
Cry For Tomorrow / Spiders And Flies (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Black Smoke And Mirrors (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Under The Weight Of My Stone (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Empty (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Drift (Psychotic Waltz cover)
Hanging On A String (Psychotic Waltz cover)
Fear (Deadsoul Tribe cover)
Catch The Rainbow (Rainbow cover)
I Remember (Psychotic Waltz cover)
My Grave (Psychotic Waltz cover)
I Never Cry (Alice Cooper cover)
Imagine (John Lennon cover)
Hotel California (The Eagles cover)
Tribute (Tenacious D cover)
We Used To Know (Jethro Tull cover)
Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)

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