MOBY SURVEYS HIS CAREER IN CONCERT, AND IT IS JUBILANT.
The feel good concert of the year for hipsters and sensitive types alike can be found on Moby‘s current tour in support of his album, Wait For Me. On Sunday, September 20, at the TLA in Philadelphia, the eclectronica savant careened from the opening heart-pounding ecstasy of “A Seated Night” to a jam-like romp through “Honey,” one of many songs pulled from Play, still his signpost album. In between were songs of heartbreak, loss, ecstasy (the feeling and the drug) and a tune Moby called “stupid,” Bodyrock.” Through it all, he kept a 25-50-something audience enraptured.
Moby executed a career spanning set that included a big chunk of his latest album, Wait For Me. lot’s of Play and hits from across the years. The bald and slender artist has been known for mounting the stage with a laptop, maybe a keyboard and guitar doing the music minus one thing, but for this tour, while there were some drum loops and vocal snippets, he’s got a full, band of drummer Joe Goretti, bassist Hagar Ben Ari, violinist Claudia Chopek and two singers,Inyang Bassey and Kelli Scar who also doubled on keyboards. They supercharged Moby’s music giving it a an energy and spontaneity you might not expect from the CDs. Popular songs from Play, including “Natural Blues,” “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” and an uproarious version of “Honey” were given gospel-blues spins. Inyang Bassey handled the vocals on all those, replacing or singing in unison with the samples, getting as much soul as she could into the repeated, mantra like lyrics.
Kelli Scar handled most of the tunes from Wait For Me. On the album and her opening solo set, her vocals were vulnerable and fragile. But onstage with Moby, she pumped up the energy on these tunes, often leading to imploring choruses, especially on “JLTF.” Sung by Melody Zimmer on the CD, it’s a heart-breaking lament. Sung live by Kelli Scar, it took on the force of a gospel hymn.
Moby himself was a surprising ringmaster, stalking the stage with his wireless Gibson SG, strumming out power chords, cranking out Shaft-like funk rhythms and occasionally letting his classic rock guitar hero out, playing riffs from Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
The band has been touring this music since early summer, yet Moby made it all seem spontaneous, from the pop spirituality of “We Are All Made of Stars” to the faux-impromptu cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” He saluted his rave roots several times, although there were only a couple of glow-sticks among the nearly sell-out crowd. There were powerful runs through “Go!,” his first single based on the melody of the “Twin Peaks Theme, ” and the still exhilarating “Feeling So Real.” On the later, singers Inyang Bassey and Kelli Scar replicated and amped up the vocals from the original version.
Only one new song appeared, and Moby apologized for that, an untitled 80s style anthemic sequencer propelled groove that might fit on a Flock of Seagulls album. That’s not an insult, just a point of reference.
I’ve never seen Moby live before. His control of pacing was impeccable, taking us from rave-up stomps to the more introspective materiel of Wait For Me and back again. Playing with a real band, he turns performance into celebration and jubilation. Moby will be touring the U.S. and Canada till the middle of October. Tour Dates here.
You can hear a pair of Echoes interviews with Moby:
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))