Kevin Morby Returns to Sell Out Rough Trade NYCJune 23rd, 2016
Kevin Morby – Rough Trade NYC – June 22, 2016
For a long time, Kevin Morby called New York City his home. After arriving here in his late teens, the city found it’s way into the songs he wrote, as it almost always does. He’s since moved on, but the songs remain and the place still loves him enough to welcome his return for back to back sold-out shows, the second one at Rough Trade NYC on Wednesday after playing Mercury Lounge on Tuesday. “I played New York last night so I’m trying not to regurgitate my banter,” Morby told the audience.
His set began with the soft and reflective “Cut Me Down” before jumping into the stop-and-start momentum of “Dorothy.” Morby’s got a knack for creating hook-laden grooves that pull you along, but at moments throwing you off the groove and floating the song with just his lyrics. The winding NYC-inspired “Harlem River” rolled through its foreboding rhythms and into an energetic jam, much like the river that cuts off Manhattan from the mainland. In his jams’ heftiest moments, Morby swung back and forth, throwing around both his mop of hair and his bolo tie.
Morby recalled an earlier time he’d played a local show with just his drummer, Justin Sullivan, when someone shouted, “Where’s the band?” He’s since added Cyrus Gengras on bass and Meg Duffy on guitar, who backed songs like “Destroyer” and “Miles, Miles, Miles” with some beautifully understated soloing. The band left the stage and Morby played through “Black Flowers” and Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place to Fall.” Everyone then returned to the stage for the encore, another Gotham-inspired tune, “Parade,” before shutting down things with the barn-burning “Ballad of Arlo Jones.”
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks