Devine, The New Amsterdams pay homage to their pasts
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, May 14, 2023
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Devine and The New Amsterdams, which is really lead singer Matt Pryor and a few backing musicians, were both playing two decades-old releases in their entirety. For Devine, that would be "Make The Clocks Move," while Pryor, formerly with '90s emo band The Get Up Kids, trotting out "Worse for the Wear," which also came out in 2003.
Neither album was a big seller or catapulted Devine and Pryor to fame and fortune, but you would not have known it based on the response from the 100 or so fans in the house. For both acts in song after song, the crowd sang along lustily, no doubt giving both artists a boost. And a portion of the fans must have been under 10 when the albums were released.
Pryor was a commanding presence with his very full-bodied voice that somewhat recalls Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. There's a lot of depth to his singing, which was more dynamic than Devine's. When the songs were on the softer side, he put an alt-country stamp on the music (the very fine "Turn Out the Lights," a love song to his wife).
Pryor, who in a previous lifetime, lived a few blocks away from the club, wasn't above knocking one of his own songs, "Mass Pike," which also the most commercial song he played. The crowd did not seem to mind one bit, at least not based on their singing along.
For Devine, his reedy voice was softer, a bit more on the Americana/folky side ("Not Over You Yet") of the musical spectrum. His delivery alone makes you think he's getting serious and introspective.
Devine also was served well by his keen, but low-key sense of humor from the get go where he joked around before he had even sung one note. Eventually, he did get to the songs and made his material stand the test of time.
This was a night of veteran musicians comfortable in their own skin in music that has aged well.
Opener Caroline Swon, who performs under the moniker of Brother Bird, played solo acoustic. The Voice Season 4 contender has a nice voice, but the songs ended up being a bit too similar. The talent is there, but more variety would have suited Brother Bird. She also was a utility player throughout the night, showing up during the sets of both Devine and The New Amsterdams.
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