“Devin Bing and the Secret Service” at the Metropolitan Room

April 11, 2013 | Cabaret | Tags:
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Devin Bing is on a journey to success. It is important for this delightful and talented crooner to decide soon which “road” will be the best choice for him. His engaging appearance at the Metropolitan Room on Sunday April 7, 2013 suggests at least three important choices that might need to be made.

Mr. Bing has a pleasant jazz-blues-rock voice which he effectively presses into service to deliver the meaning behind the lyric in any of these three musical genres. However, he seems most contented when he enters the jazz and blues zone, accompanying himself at the piano. Devin truly shines here and makes his deepest connection to the audience and to his material. This ability to consociate and captivate is most evident in his renditions of “My Funny Valentine” inspired by the Chet Baker Recording of the 1937 Rogers and Hart show tune from “Babes in Arms” and “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” (Cole Porter, Arr. by Devin Bing).

This is not to imply that Mr. Bing’s vocal forays into the more rock genre are not successful: for this critic, they are just not as pleasing. Further, Devin seems clearly more connected to the lyrics and better interprets them when he is singing in the jazz and blues sphere.

When Devin Bing and the Secret Service (Gavi Grodsky, guitar; Michael Feinberg, bass; and Blaise Lanzetta, drums) enter the rock genre, the balance between vocalist and band becomes problematic – at least this was true during the April 7 performance – and the drums (especially) completely overpower the rest of the ensemble.

Mr. Bing’s arrangements were evident in all eleven songs in the evening’s set including the encore (“Rock with You” by Michael Jackson). And when he writes and arranges songs, his stamp – his emerging identity as an artist – becomes even more tangible. These songs (“I’m Feelin,’” “Just Surrender,” I’m So Happy,” and “Be All Right” among others) sport a tenderness in voice and lyric which is satisfying to the ear and to the heart. One wishes for perhaps more sophisticated lyrics given Devin’s obvious talent as a songwriter.

This songwriter’s skills are equally evident in his performance of the standards in the program which include “Angel Eyes” (Matt Dennis) and “Feel Like Making Love” (Eugene McDaniels).

Devin Bing is clearly on his way to an impressive career as a crooner. He needs to choose his personal songbook carefully and continue to ensure his considerable craft matches his choice of material. Along with his Secret Service, Mr. Bing is definitely worth the look and listen. Do all you can to catch one of his remaining four performances at the iconic Metropolitan Room in New York City and be on the lookout for the release of his upcoming studio album.