Philadelphia-bred, Nashville-based Devon Gilfillian filled World Café Live with optimism on Wednesday afternoon. He and his band offered up a solid set of soul and hard rock, including a few unreleased selections from his forthcoming Capitol Records debut.
Gilfillian never wasted a moment on stage, and he never shied away from showmanship either; by the time he reached the second chorus in the opener, “Unchained,” he was already belting in his strongest range. The singer’s voice shook the room, rich, full-bodied, and gorgeous. During the R&B-inflected “The Good Life,” Gilfillian charmed the audience with sweet falsetto and plenty of smiles as he dreamed about life in a loving city. “Remember when the bank got sold, and everybody took their gold, and everybody helped each other?” he asked in the second verse.
My favorite song of the afternoon was the unreleased ballad “Stranger,” which Gilfillian introduced with a story from the band’s time on the road: He and his beloved bandmates got into a terrible car accident in 2018 that involved a drunk driver speeding through the hills in Georgia. When the band survived and lived to travel on, Gilfillian wondered at how quickly a stranger could accidentally change the course of another person’s life. But the “stranger” the singer calls out to in the song’s chorus turns out not to be the stranger who caused the accident, but the stranger who let him live through it — his savior.
The band closed the show with the burner “Come Here and Come Down” and the single “Troublemaker,” their heaviest track of the afternoon. Gilfillian’s latest single, “Get Out and Get It,” was released in March, and his debut full-length is due out later this year on Capitol.
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