Photos and Review by Stephen Bloch
There is an old saying that the suit doesn’t make the man (or woman). It’s what’s in the suit that counts. I think this is particularly true of Kevin Morby on Tuesday at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom. Morby clearly has a thing for uniquely decorated suits, often with interesting language; but it’s really his music that stands out. The show began with an enchanting opening set from the eclectic indie pop band Coco, a project led by Maia Friedman of Dirty Projectors. The band charmed the audience with their lush sounds and looseness (that no doubt was at least partially due to a bandmate leaving the tour the night before). They disclosed that the set would be somewhat experimental with the new lineup, which didn’t seem to bother anyone in attendance.
After their hour-ish set, Morby took the stage donning a sparkly silver fringe jacket. This was a clear indication that this night of indie rock was sure to pop. He is currently on a lengthy tour which started back in May in support of his stellar 2022 release, This is a Photograph. The show was divided into two distinct chapters, new and old, with both parts having palpable energy and warmth (which in this case was appropriate on a 70 degree November day in Milwaukee). The show began with a heavy dose of the new album. The tunes, in particular “This is a Photograph,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and “Rock Bottom” were even better live than the recording. No surprise here as Morby puts on a powerful live show with extended jams and much animation. The second half was even more filled with unbridled urgency; patrons were whipped into a frenzy when the band launched into “No Halo,” “Piss River,” “City Music” and their most recognizable song, “I Have Been to the Mountain.” The band has an even more full and exuberant sound than in the past, with the addition of vocalist Elizabeth Moen and sax/flute player Cochemea Gastelum.
Morby is a serious songwriter and musician who has put together a stellar group of musicians. He has developed a very loyal following for nearly a decade and is clearly attracting many new devotees with the release of his current album based upon the many sold out shows that he’s playing. He’s a showman who knows how to work a crowd.