Murder by Death/Kevin Devine - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Murder by Death / Kevin Devine

live in Cambridge (2016)

live show

This great, fat-trimmed lineup offered a nice way to spend your Saturday night. Murder by Death sold out this first show of a two-night stand at Cambridge’s wonderful Sinclair venue, with Kevin Devine and his Goddamn Band opening it up.

Kevin Devine’s career has definitely been a game of inches, but through it all he’s amassed a considerably sized catalog that makes for a very excellent selection of standout songs whenever he plays live, whether that’s solo or with whatever incarnation of the Goddamn Band he assembles. He had a small scattering of fans throughout the crowd here, though some new to his music were certainly a little obnoxious. This version of the Goddamn Band was able to drown them out, though, playing as a trio with some ramshackle, straightforward cuts of slightly noisy, occasionally dark and often catchy and energetic indie rock. I imagine this was closer to the vibe of his days in Miracle of 86. Opener “Off-Screen” was a pleasant surprise of an opener as I don’t think I’ve seen him play it since he was first out supporting the album it’s lifted from, 2011’s Between the Concrete and Clouds. Devine told some good anecdotes in between, like an honest one about how his coke dealer back in the day told him he should stop buying from him. He picked some solid tracks from the last 11 years of his work (“Redbird”, off 2013’s Bubblegum, is a stunner), and even played a promising new one, “No Why”, likely from his forthcoming ninth (!) full-length. You wished there was a bigger response, but there seemed to be some singing along and plenty of attention paid at least.

Set list (9:00-9:44):

  1. Off-Screen

  2. Bloodhound

  3. She Can See Me


  4. Cotton Crush


  5. Little Bulldozer

  6. Magic Magnet


  7. I Could Be with Anyone


  8. Just Stay

  9. No Why [new]

  10. Redbird


  11. Brother’s Blood

Murder by Death had a projection screen behind them for some visual accompaniment, but it was nothing too distracting. They opened with the joyous revelation of “I Came Around” and barely paused from there, playing a heavy block of a half-dozen songs to kick things off. From that point on it was a good mix of the fun-time, major-key songs from the band’s recent albums, some slower, slightly darker fare, and their older, Cursive-leaning material. They mentioned relearning lots of songs from 2006’s In Bocca al Lupo in celebration of its 10th anniversary, playing a little more than usual from the record (three for this show, but others on this tour it seems they play as many as five). That was a welcomed surprise, as it’s one of my personal favorite LPs of theirs. The crowd was enthusiastic to the career-spanning set, raising beer cups high in the air to plenty of the alcohol-referencing lyrics, or otherwise because they had no free hand to point with, likely.

The band seemed in good spirits as usual, with singer/guitarist Adam Turla mentioning after “Ash” he was taking advantage of their full weekend stop by putting a dent in his personal quest of visiting every American ballpark and attending the Red Sox game the next day at Fenway Park. They played their 1-2 punch of David Bowie-related songs, one a tribute to him and the other a spirited cover they often do live of “Moonage Daydream”.

Set list (10:12-11:25):

  1. I Came Around

  2. ‘52 Ford

  3. The Curse of Elkhart

  4. A Masters in Reverse Psychology

  5. Strange Eyes

  6. Big Dark Love


  7. Good Morning, Magpie

  8. Lost River

  9. Ash


  10. Foxglove

  11. Steal Away


  12. Natural Pearl


  13. I Shot an Arrow

  14. Moonage Daydream [David Bowie cover]


  15. Shiola


  16. Brother

  17. Dynamite Mine

  18. Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue


  19. Comin’ Home

    Encore (11:26-11:33):

  20. The Desert Is on Fire


  21. Fuego! -or- Spring Break 1899