Devendra Banhart has become something of a mini-celebrity since the release of his first solo album two years ago. Two more solo albums later, he’s back in the UK for a tour with Vetiver, one of his side projects. Banhart plays guitar for the band, which is really a pseudonym for his friend Andy Cabic. On tour, Vetiver are a five-piece, comprising of Cabic and Banhart, Alissa Anderson on cello, Kevin Barker on guitar and Otto Hauser playing drums. Barker and Hauser themselves play as Currituck County, who are opening tonight’s show.

The first thing that comes across is how great Cabic’s voice is. In the hushed environment of the Lyric, his mellifluous tones reach right up to the balconies at the top of the theatre. It’s a classic country voice, although the first few songs of Vetiver’s set don’t do much to distinguish it. Despite Cabic’s virtuoso singing and the talent of the other members, the night really comes alive for the first time when Banhart unleashes his own, not insubstantial, voice. Having sat on the side and played guitar for half the set, halfway through, Banhart and Cabic finally start off singing in harmony, but by the end of the song Devendra is going off on his own flights of fancy, making strange (but melodic) bird-calls into the microphone and generally stealing the show.

The highlight of the set is the very next number, 'Been So Long', which is the first track on the band’s new' Between' EP. For it, Alissa Anderson discards her cello, not for the bass she has occasionally been playing throughout the night, but for a flute. The song, with Cabic’s plaintive but languid vocal drifting over the haunting flute line, is beautiful and is hard to follow.

The second half of the set is of a high standard, however, and includes a pretty cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 'Save Me a Place'. Banhart joins in on one more track which, predictably, is another highlight, and adds a few addled comments between tracks, then, without fuss or fluster, Vetiver are gone.














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Commenting On: Lyric Theatre, London, 4/6/2005 - Vetiver








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