Devil’s Elbow

21 October, Common Room

Celebrating their 10th year anniversary Devils Elbow returned to their roots in Hawke’s Bay to play – what turned out to be – a sell-out gig for an upbeat and dynamic group of fans. Common Room was buzzing with dancing bodies that included both new and long time loyal Devil’s Elbow groupies. Strutting their stuff to beautifully crafted songs, the atmosphere was alive.

Devil’s Elbow play a tight fusion of Rock n Roll, and Country, peppered with punk. Think Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top. Their songs may appear simply arranged and classic, but the dance-ability and ease of listening that their music throws at the audience is owed largely to the band’s capable and talented approach to writing and performing complex songs.

Their songs wind their way through many elements of a musical journey. Much like their namesake – the section of State Highway 2 between Whirinaki and Tutira – the solos, the harmonies, the rhythms and the riffs roll into one another, assembling and disassembling in musical crescendos and diminuendos. To take a slow approach with a liberal use of breaks – as described in Te Ara when tackling the Devil’s Elbow corner – this band, in contrary put their feet to floor and give full throttle.

The lead singer’s voice has a sneaky hint of Tom Petty, expressing stories in a true country fashion with the odd unpredictable lyric taking the audience by surprise. But every great band has a character and John Hastings, the drummer, provided an interesting edge to the line up. Topless and tense, he made people get up and dance.

Playing a mix of songs from their six albums the evening was full of people singing along and thoroughly enjoying themselves. For a $10 cover charge, that came with a free CD, I felt this gig was well worth every dollar and a lot more besides. The polished quality of the performance left the excited fans with smiles on their faces and fully satisfied.

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