Devlin’s talent has long been unavoidable, large in part due to his presence on the microphone and his ability to spit deep and intelligent lyrics while walking the fine line between the mainstream and underground sections of grime. Though the budding MC has been out of the limelight much of the past two years since releasing his debut album Bud, Sweat and Beers, the 23-year old has slowly re-emerged as of recent in preparation for his upcoming sophomore effort A Moving Picture, and at an exclusive gig at The Hospital Club in London showed the audience that he’s more than ready to get back in our faces.
Before making his way to the stage the rapper was supported by Willy Moon, most known for his hit single “Yeah Yeah” that you’ve likely heard in a recent iPod ad from Apple. Accompanied by a drummer and guitarist, both sexily dressed, as he began with a cover of “I’m Shakin” by Jack White it wasn’t hard to see that the singer’s peculiar presentation carries throughout every aspect of his character, and that’s by no means a bad thing. From his look, to his stage-name, to even his stage presence, Willy Moon defines the word, and with his unique mash-up of bluesy rock n roll with hip-hop inspired curiosity in those not familiar with his work. Though he seemed a little anxious at times, he showed glimpses of a future headliner in the making, and it’s only the beginning for him having released his debut EP in December of last year.
Once it was Devlin’s time to hit the stage his charged rhymes changed the atmosphere instantly, backed by a live band providing the gritty sounds as he opened with “Brainwashed” from Bud, Sweat and Beers and proceeded to move into newer material including “Sun Goes Down”, “Runaway” and “Watchtower”, the lead single from A Moving Picture which samples Bob Dylan’s classic 1968 hit “All Along the Watchtower” as well as the highly influential riff from Jimi Hendrix’s cover of the song. Olivia Leisk backed Devlin up on vocals for the most part, charmingly covering Katy B and Dianne Birch’s parts on “Sun Goes Down” and “Rewind” respectively. One unexpected surprise came when the drummer sang Ed Sheeran’s chorus on “Watchtower”, all the while playing spectacularly, which was a sight to behold in itself.
Devlin seemed more energetic than ever, and took no breaks between “Sun Goes Down”, “Rewind” and “Runaway”, moving through the tracks fluidly. Throughout the rest of the 5-track set he cracked jokes with the crowd, and showed off his relaxed and amusing personality, one of his strongest features when coupled with the serious and strife-centric content he often deals with in his rhymes.
Despite his set being fairly short, much to the surprise of some, Devlin’s performance gave the audience a brief yet stark warning to keep aware of his return as he has big things in store this year , which is exactly what he set out to do.