Kevin Morby performed at the High Noon Saloon Monday with Hand Habits. A packed and excited crowd met Morby, with an audience member at one point shouting “you guys are pretty good!” in jest.
Hand Habits, a band with individual music which also accompanied Morby, opened with several mellow songs. Morby began his set with “Singing Saw,” the title track from his 2016 album, which is initially a quieter song, until midway through when it becomes slightly more rock.
The lyrics state repeatedly: “Thought I saw a singing saw / cutting down a willow.” He followed up with “Cut Me Down,” and “Drunk and On a Star,” slower songs also from Singing Saw.
The performers shifted tone with “Destroyer,” which had a different musical quality than the previous songs. Morby switched from guitar to keyboard for this piece, while one of the band members played the violin. Morby seemed very relaxed — absorbed in the music rather than trying to put on a spectacle.
After playing “I Have Been to the Mountain,” also from Singing Saw, Morby transitioned to songs from his 2017 album, City Music, by first playing the title track. The band was creative with their performance, playing the violin for many pieces, even though the recordings don’t feature the instrument.
“Crybaby” was next, a song with the lyrics: “I never was someone that I liked / I never was someone that you know / Now the tears flow through my eyes / And the trouble fell like a snow.” This song was represented in Morby’s outfit as well, which was a suit featuring clouds with lightening bolts, rain and the words “Crybaby” on his back.
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Morby played several more songs from City Music before finishing with a few of his older classics, including a slowed version of “Harlem River,” and “Parade.”
He paused to thank everyone for coming and expressed how much he and his band love Madison, the Isthmus and the Old Fashioned.
“It’s a great town to have a night off in,” Morby said.
His band then left the stage as he played two solo songs, including one of everyone’s favorites, “Beautiful Stranger,” and his band came back on stage for “Dry Your Eyes,” as an encore. One of his band members jumped on his back and played his guitar while Morby held her up, closing out the show.