Some bands are like one night stands, others perhaps a weekend fling or holiday romance. There are relatively few, however, that turn out to be lifelong love affairs, but to their devoted fans at least, David Devant & His Spirit Wife are just that.
Initially signed up in the Britpop goldrush, Devant – named after a famous Victorian spiritualist who lead singer Mikey ‘Vessel’ Georgeson claims visits him even now to deposit songs – were always a little too individual and eccentric to fit into this pigeonhole easily. They had a touch of the kitchen sink dramatics that connects The Kinks with The Smiths, it’s true. But there was also more than a hint of the daft theatrics and androgynous nature of glam about them too. And, to paraphrase Alan Partridge, if the testosterone-heavy vibe of Britpop was anything, it was never confused.
Fast forward to 2020 then, and we find the Brighton four piece having just released their fourth album ‘Cut Out & and Keep Me’, their first for 15 years although they’ve been gigging consistently throughout that time. Not ones to be constrained by the restrictions of lockdown, they’ve been busy recording a AA-side single featuring the ancient but never released ‘Taking My Time; and new song ‘When Nature Calls’ and of course joining the list of bands doing the live online gig thing.
Everything this band does comes with a splash of originality, and this occasion was to prove no exception. The Vessel begins the session with a vaguely surreal chat about what they’re going to be getting up to, then the split- screened band jump into ‘Here I Am’, sounding like Bowie covering The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’. ‘Cookie’, one of their fan favourites follows, with Vessel imploring their viral audience to reach for the imaginary lazers through the fog of hypothetical dry ice he wants you to imagine. Who are we to decline such an offer?!
The performance fuses live and pre-recorded material in quite an ingenious fashion, with their new track ‘When Nature Calls’ appearing to show them relocating to a back garden somewhere in Brighton and, in keeping with its reflective melancholy, switching to evocative black and white. A sort of half-time breather in the set, between their more fast and furious numbers, it’s very moving and a definite highlight.
The slashing riffs of ‘Ginger’, a tribute not just to those of redheaded origins but to outsiders of all description everywhere, keep the energy levels high, but the tracks from the new album, the decadently swinging ‘Sublime’ and this broadcast’s quirky closing song, ‘Weatherman’, more than hold their own among the older fan favourites.
All of which definitely bodes well for the ongoing future of Vessel and his chums, who have more Zoom-style shows in the pipeline, including a slot on the Balcony Festival on June 20. And while they’ll no doubt be desperate to get back to the sweaty rooms and audience participation of their ‘normal’ gigging life, in the meantime they prove more than capable of putting in a Spirited performance down the line.