Brixton Academy, London, 19 May 2005
Mellowing with age is an inevitable part of life, a fact
seemingly exemplified by Moby - going from rave scene kingpin,
to critically-savaged thrash metaller, to 'big beat' James
Bond theme remixer before blues-meets-chillout career epiphany,
release of latest album 'Hotel', where samples are dropped
in favour of original vocals, appears to continue this trend
of winding down, laying back and taking a calmer, more traditional
approach. But that only tells half the story; Moby has always
been a man of contradiction. Portrayed as a tee-total, religious,
eco-centric outcast when involved with the drug-fuelled
dance scene, he then embarked on a well-documented journey
of debauched rock and roll excess when the sedate tones
of 'Play' sold millions worldwide.
the man also known as Richard Hall live is an equally unpredictable
experience as he plays new material alongside selections
from a rich back catalogue of rave, rock and downtempo soul.
Opener 'Extreme Ways' is followed by a typically euphoric
track featuring Laura Dawn's belting diva
vocals before his more sensitive side is unveiled with a
slow, sleepy, but sluggish, version of 'Natural Blues'.
The New Yorker soon atones for this by launching into first
hit, 1991's 'Go', with both the crowd and the bongo-bashing
Eminemesis going absolutely mental.
as dance music is best heard on a crowded dancefloor, downtempo
introspection often lends itself better to home listening
than expansive concert venues, this means a tender, poignant
cover of New Order's 'Temptation', is sadly
ignored by much of the chattering crowd. New additions including
'Beautiful', with its upbeat pop charm, and bittersweet
torch-song, 'Slipping Away', are strewn amongst familiar
favourites including an extended psychedelic take on 'Honey',
which is stretched and contorted into a Floyd-esque
punctuates the set with frequent, light-hearted anecdotes
and ends every song with a customary "Thankyouthankyouthankyou",
his gratitude seemingly as genuine as the enjoyment he gets
from performing. Ducking, diving and dashing around the
stage with the exuberant excitement of a teenager, when
it comes to the mesmeric 'I Feel It' the diminutive 39-year-old
is unable to contain himself. He charges over to steal control
of the keyboards, thumping away manically at the keys.
encore is a calmer affair with covers of 'Walk On The Wildside'
and guitarist Daron Murphy's convincing
rendition of The Doors' 'Break On Through'
until goosebumps are raised along with the tempo for another
old anthem, 'Feeling So Real'. Pounding away at gabba speed
with fairground organ chords and cheesy rave samples, this
is unashamed white-gloved madness, and forms a superb, breathless
end to the night. Moby proves that, while he may appear
to be mellowing on the surface, he is certainly not ready
for his (peace) pipe and slippers just yet.
- Ian Roullier, 05/2005