Catch my video of Devendra Banhart here singing ‘Bad Girl’ at Koko, Camden, July 4th London, a winning performance, showing his mellow wistful side. But it seems there are multiple facets to Devendra.
Is there any style he cannot do? Soft and Hard Rock, Folk, Jazz, Reggae, Ska, Accapella parody, acoustic, solo on piano, falsettos and warbles like Bolan though he’s toned down the Bolanesque throat warble these days. Big highlights were when he sang two of my favourites: ‘Seahorse’ and ‘ Rats’.
He showed off -but in a nice way- this beguiling eclecticism and versatility. This guy can sing, rap, play, curse, kiss the audience AND tune his guitar all at the same time, plus he has a great line in witty banter ( I wanna feel the heat with somebody + Boom there it is) aimed directly at the heart of the audience. He even sang a surprise bonus – a rollicking version of Taylor Dayne’s ‘Tell it to my Heart’…’wanna feel my body rock.Tell me I’m the only one. Is this really love or just a game? Tell it to my heart. I can feel my body rock every time you call my name. ‘ Funny how there was not one person in the house who didn’t know ALL the words to this song.
Thus it was that Devendra rocked Koko; he delivered the goods- with star plusses. But his quirky songs with weird quasi mystical lyrics are what endears him to us; as if he alone is in touch with the multi-verse,and this is what makes grown men in the audience shout out ‘I love you Devendra’ without a trace of embarrassment, drowning out girls shouting ‘I want your baby’.
What a humble chap too for one so talented. Smiling and patting his band mates on the back,even singing their songs. He praised the support act Rozi Plain from the ‘bottom’ of his heart, threw his body at the audience for multiple groping, and even invited some random guy up from the audience to play his own song- the bigger surprise was that it was damned good. The guy was called Bert? He took Devendra’s guitar and played ‘I Love My Tortoise’, a soft acoustic Devendra-like piece of whimsy. Surely it was all staged? The line that got me as ‘ I love you, but you’re not good for me.. This was more Syd Barrett than Devendra, if not a real Syd Barrett song.
Devendra thundered back on stage and encored with a medley of ‘ I Feel Just like a Child’ and ‘Chinese Children’ and, for that moment, we were all Devendra’s ‘wild- child’ offspring.
I for one will be always eager to know what he gets up to next.