In the times of climate change real hot summer nights in Western Europe have become rare occasions. Think about it the few times you’ve been able to run around all night only dressed in shorts and shirt recently. This might sound like a way too dramatic start for a concert review but the basic message of it is quite simple – last Monday was one of this really gentle summer nights in Berlin. After quite tropical temperatures during the day the sunset cooled down the scenery, offering an interesting moment to have DEVENDRA BANHART in town. The American musician has been called everything – neo-folk prodigy, weirdo, hippie hero for hipsters. But on this night at the Huxleys Neue Welt he was basically just a great musician … and damn sexy.
The smooth summer setting might have called for a laidback open air event on that night but, well, you can’t have everything. BANHART‘s bandmember RODRIGO AMARANTE opened the gig with his tender almost-acoustic folk. Musically pretty much the same direction as his boss. A great way to set the right mood for the evening. It’s this mixture of tender folk melancholy with latino rhythms and the singer’s very own attraction that defines the sound of his biography. This year’s new longplayer Mala was surprisingly conventional for this extroverted man – simple and reduced to the basics of his song but still enough BANHART-madness to keep the fans and followers happy. With a quite normal looking haircut and the quite stylish clothes he might have been less hippie recently and more dressman but be sure that he still dedicates himself to his art one hundred percent.
And that’s the spirit you get when experiencing DEVENDRA BANHART in concert on this night – he’s a true artist, one that lives through his music. Accompanied by his great band he started with tracks from the album before playing a lovely mixture of previous output. Smooth psychedelic songs like Never Seen Such Good Things mix with more salsa-like moments. He performs in English and Spanish and ain’t even afraid of a few German lines during Your Fine Petting Duck. The tracks also comes with a quite unusual, almost NEW ORDER-like 80s wave finale – and we could easily imagine him doing a full record with that sound. He could get away with it because it would be authentic.
Every note belongs to him, he owns this songs as he performs. You can clearly sense it while watching DEVENDRA BANHART perform his music. He’s very kinky, wild, lost in the music and he definitely got a couple of memorable dance moves. But most of it he’s got plenty of sex appeal. And by the end of the show it’s really not just the girls screaming for him as he shakes his hip, bites on his lips and whispers – probably quite – tender Spanish words in to the microphone. Their is a sensual tension in the air, perfect for such summer nights. We know, it’s a cliché with the musicians getting all the girls and boys easily after the show – but after watching him perform we might get an idea why.
BANHART and his band are leaving with the joyful Carmensita from 2007’s album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Quite a live embracing and joyful way to end such a night. We’ve had it all – the soul, the songs and the sensuality. And there might be only a few better fitting ways to spend such a summer night.