Bad Books played the Newport Music Hall on Saturday night and showed the always welcoming Columbus audience that playing music with your friends is an absolute blast and a treat for anyone lucky enough to be in attendance.
Bad Books is the side project of Manchester Orchestra front man Andy Hull and indie singer-songwriter Kevin Devine. Formed in 2010 and currently touring their second record “II”.
To fill out the live sound, members of Manchester Orchestra and drummer Ben Homola were brought in. But Bad Books isn’t just a mash up of two bands and songwriters, Devine and Hull gel together to create something similar yet at the same time different to anything they’ve done before. Both take turns taking up the front-man role and while Hulls voice is as powerful live as it is on record it never dominates and allows both singers to interweave their own vocal style.
Musically jumping from low-key indie-folk to full on stadium rock, the band put on an intimate show with a little bit of comedy banter thrown in between songs. Both Devine and Hull bring a very down to earth presence to the stage that made the Newport feel much smaller and comfortable than it really is.
Hull gave a nice shout out to CD102.5 before launching into current radio single “Forest Whitaker,” which sounded great live. The full band sound gave the song a heavier, more guitar forward sound.
The three-guitar, double-vocal attack really elevated Bad Books more upbeat numbers and makes the studio versions of “It Never Stops,” “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask” and “No Sides” sound weak in comparison.
Hull and Devine both looked like they were really enjoying playing with each other, Devine especially, who would dance back and forth while playing off of guitarist Robert McDowell and drummer Ben Homola.
It’s refreshing to watch a band play without the expectations that comes with their other bands. Catch them live if you weren’t there for the Newport show. it’s honest, ego-free music from a collection of highly talented musicians and songwriters with the confidence of past success in a band that’s still so new everything feels fresh and exciting.
Matt Ellis is a freelance photographer who covers bands that visit the city and the Columbus Crew MLS team. More about Matt can be found at Matt Ellis Photography.