GIG REVIEW: Devin Dawson – Live At The Camden Assembly, London

Warner Music’s latest breakout star, Devin Dawson, is really dipping his toes deep into the UK country scene, having made multiple trips across the pond over the last 12 months. It was a pleasure to be in attendance for Devin’s first headline UK show at The Camden Assembly on Monday night, and his efforts are certainly paying off, judging by the crowd that turned out to finish their bank holiday with some great music! It’s great to see an artist making such a commitment to the UK fans, and the turn out was so pleasing for an artist at such an early stage in his career.

We were also treated to the added bonus of Laura Oakes, who opened the show. Laura needs no introduction to all you YLIAS readers, you know how much we love her! The queen of British country sounded as wonderful as ever, and even though she performed solo this time, she still captured the hearts and attention of every single person in the room. She performed a selection of songs from her gorgeous ‘Nashville Stole Your Girl’ EP, starting with the catchy ‘Glitter’, followed by the likes of fan favourite ‘Better In Blue Jeans’, ‘Lazy’ and the title track to finish. Slotted in between was my personal favourite, ‘Whatever You Want’, which still hits me just as hard as it did years ago. One of the finest examples of British country music at its very best.

Devin took the stage shortly after 9pm, joined by two guitarists who added another dimension to the performance. Particularly with the electric guitar, which is used wonderfully on the album and makes Devin’s material so powerful and infectious. The set list mainly consisted of songs from his debut album ‘Dark Horse’, with all but one of the songs from the album included. It’s without doubt one of the albums of the year so far, and it sounded incredible live, despite the lack of a drummer.

The thumping ‘War Paint’ kicked off the set with great energy and power, followed by the first song on the album, ‘Dip’. Two songs that emphasise Devin’s boundary-pushing style and sheer diversity within the world of country music. He’s the ideal artist to introduce the mainstream fans to country music, so much so that Radio 1’s Scott Mills was in attendance, filming for a BBC iPlayer documentary. Devin’s material could do big things in the UK market and it’s no wonder he’s making the trip across the pond such an important ad regular commitment.

The album has its wonderfully uplifting moments like ‘I Don’t Care Who Sees’, which sounded epic live with the electric guitar riffs, and it also has moments like ‘Asking For A Friend’ (Devin’s new single), full of feeling, depth and meaning. Then you have ‘Symptoms’ which adds a sexier, sultrier element. All of these made for a rollercoaster ride of a show, with its high points and moments of thought and reflection.

Towards the end of the set, Devin said “I can do that shit where I walk off the stage and you all applaud until I come on, or I can just stay here and get on with it” – that’s what I like! And that’s exactly what he did, performing his smash-hit debut single ‘All On Me’ which had the whole crowd singing along, and finishing with ‘Dark Horse’, his most personal, autobiographical song. Vocally, you just can’t fault him – utterly flawless, and the songs are undeniably catchy and will instantly resonate with new listeners.

Devin will be back in the UK later this year to support Thomas Rhett at the Eventim Apollo; hopefully one of many UK dates to come!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan