Dev Hynes, better known as Blood Orange, has had his ups and downs in the past few years, but the audience at his sold-out Webster Hall show on Feb. 6 would never have known. Hynes delivered a positive, inspired and dynamic set with the rest of his Blood Orange crew and some guests.
R&B singer Ian Isiah opened the show with a bizarre performance full of explicit sexual lyrics and provocative dancing. He received mixed signals from a slightly bemused crowd, most of whom seemed uncomfortably entertained by his shirtless twerking efforts.
Not one for an extravagant entrance, Hynes and his band joined the crowd without flourish. The moment the audience caught a glimpse of the main attraction, there was a noticeable shift in the atmosphere. When the tall, willowy figure of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek followed Hynes onto the stage, the audience went wild for the beautiful opening tones of “Chamakay.”
Hynes has always been good at grabbing the fans’ attention, even when he began appearing in the mainstream circuit a few years ago. He started 2012 and 2013 optimistically, with a series of pop hits such as Solange Knowles’ “Losing You” and Sky Ferreira’s “Everything is Embarrassing.” Later, in November 2013, under his Blood Orange persona, he released his sophomore New York-inspired album “Cupid Deluxe,” which was critically acclaimed and well received by fans. In December, he was on the cover of The Fader magazine.
However, last year, his relationships with the aforementioned female vocalists began to fall apart. Additionally, Hynes and his girlfriend Samantha Urbani (of the Brooklyn band Friends) arrived at his East Village apartment one night in December to find it had been completely burned down in an electrical fire. As well as the clothes and personal items, the couple lost several incomplete music projects.
Even without the lost music, Hynes was able to give the crowd on Thursday a show full of hits from his most recent album.
The set continued with a modishly dressed Samantha Urbani, who joined the band on stage for “You’re Not Good Enough.” The onstage chemistry between the couple was enchanting as they continued to duet on songs such as “It Is What It Is,” “Chosen,” “Clipped On” and “Always Let U Down,” all while dancing together and sharing hugs.
Blood Orange’s performance featured Hynes’ rapid, undulating dance moves, jazzy electric guitar solos and seamless camaraderie among the entire band. During “Time Will Tell,” the final song of the night, Hynes hopped into the audience and danced the last few minutes of his set away with his adoring New York supporters.
Everyone in the packed venue recognized how fortunate they were to experience the performer’s talent. Hynes gave everything he had to the city he loves and was rewarded with a room full of delighted, familiar faces.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 11 print edition. Alex Berner-Coe is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.