Published Jan 24, 2015Considering that he's dabbling in some of classic rock'n'roll's most rollicking, fevered sounds, the first half of the Devin Cuddy Band's Dead of Winter set proved a bit of a snoozer.
The venue and scheduling certainly weren't ideal. The generally wonderful Company House was at seating capacity — meaning little room for the crowd to move and get engaged — and Cuddy and company were following two softer, quieter folk performances that had the crowd decidedly in "sit attentively and listen" mode that proved difficult to shake, rattle and roll out of. But though the band members were displaying their immense talents as players from the opening notes of their own "She Ain't Crying Over Me," their energy level seemed low as well. The first several songs were impeccably but indistinctly performed, and while Cuddy's voice is solid it's not unique or powerful enough on its own to elevate the material's familiar formula.
It was Cuddy's tribute to Randy Newman that turned the corner: back-to-back covers of "Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong" and "Old Kentucky Home" seemed to light a spark in both the band and the crowd. The band followed those with its own sharp and clever "My Son's a Queer" — which Cuddy cheekily claimed they wrote for Newman ("Sent him an email, a Dropbox," he laughed) — and from that point the spirits seemed both looser and heightened among everyone in the venue. Bandmates Nichol Robertson, Zack Sutton and Devon Richardson had a field day with standards like "Take Me Back to Tulsa" and "Pay Me My Money Down," and any lingering sleepiness from Cuddy finally dissipated. It took a bit of time, but that ol' rock'n'roll spirit finally won out.
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