Devandra Banhart, Vetiver

Mike Caulfield 08/09/2006

Lovably deranged, oddball folky and catalyst for the psych/acid/avant/whatever-folk movement Devendra Banhart, brings his travelling family to Manchester for a bright and breezy show that's both compelling and enjoyable.

Support tonight comes from Banhart cohorts, Otto Hauser and Andy Cabic's group Vetiver, showcasing a mix of old and new material to a largely indifferent crowd, a shame really as their light breezy folk melodies and relaxed nature could have culminated into a beautiful serene moment before the headliner appears. Fortunately, some people appreciate them, and they exit the stage to healthy applause.

Following a short break and with people still returning from the bar, on steps a slightly reserved Banhart for a brief solo moment. He is soon followed by his usual band Hairy Fairy, tonight christened “First women millionaire”, breaking into a series of spacey songs, one of which turns out to be a David Crosby number and a quickly aborted tongue-in-cheek rendition of an Oasis song, much to the amusement of the crowd.
After several numbers Devendra, in the spirit of community, asks the audience whether anyone has a song of their own they'd like to share, which has now become a regular part of the show, taking on the challenge is a rather “relaxed” looking fellow by the name of George, playing a slightly melancholic solo piece whilst the band exit for a quick breather.

Upon the band's return the show moves into more of an upbeat, party feel, with many of the songs taking on a blues boogie arrangement and featuring some beautiful, well-crafted four-part vocal harmonies. Break-through single 'Little Yellow Spider' is given a reggae makeover and is greeted with huge applause, followed shortly by another crowd-pleaser, 'At The Hop', which tonight is kept faithful to the quiet acoustic original, whilst being augmented by some gorgeous harmonies from the now slightly inebriated group.
Biggest applause of the evening is reserved for 'I Feel Just Like A Child' from last year's Cripple Crow LP, which, despite a rather weak mix and Devendra's vocals barely audible at times, gets much of the equally inebriated audience dancing and singing along.

In the end my only complaints would be the lack of solo acoustic moments and the group's over-reliance sometimes on twelve-bar blues boogie style numbers: all only minor complaints, however, for what was a compelling and entertaining evening.