Bittersweet moonlit duet
I had missed Moon Duo's previews gigs in Portugal for a myriad of reasons. Either they happened to play too far for the money I had or, the worst of all, because I was out of the country on a place they didn't even play on that tour. This last reason is the one I really wish I had seen them. But, as people say, life goes on and the opportunity to see Moon Duo appeared once more in front of me. This time, come hell or high water, I wouldn't miss them.
Having followed Moon Duo since their first 12"'s, I couldn't wait to see how they would transport the sound I heard on the records to a live setting. A thing that really made me curious was how would they operate their improvisational sound with a drum machine. Would it be human operated? Would it be a push play button with a limited timeset, thus forcing Moon Duo to be controlled on their jams? The thing is, I had read beforehand, Moon Duo were a trio this time around.
As they marched onstage, singular notes from the keyboards emerged through the speakers and then!, BAM!, they launched with Sleepwalker from their latest record, Circles. One could even imagine King Khan appear and strut like in the video. As the concert progresses, you start travelling to places unknowed though strangely familiar, like a sonic deja-vu, since you already knew the songs from the records. You felt yourself densely immersed in the music.
Ripley's guitar playing, believe it or not!, was stratospheric and ferocious as usual and his vocals sounded as phantasmagorical as ever. Sanae's ethereal backing vocals added an eerie and soothing but menacing Ulysses' like siren call to the lunar ringlike soundscapes that come to life from the keyboards.
The projections on the backdrop were as mind blowing as the music and the shadows of the band swaying to the twists and turns of their own creations elevated the projections to a higher plateau.
As for the drummer,it brings a bit more muscle to the music and a certain more inventiveness and freedom to the players. To start off with, away were the shackles of the drum machine, allowing Moon Duo to explore wider avenues in their sound. The songs sounded like you could drive way over the speed limit and if the police saw you, they would just encourage you to drive even faster.
At the same time, the presence of a drummer made Moon Duo sound slightly closer to Wooden Shjips and though they are two separate bands working on different chemistries, that human beat stripped away part of Moon Duo's uniqueness and charm of being, well, of being just a duo. At the same time, that's just me talking because I really wanted to see them as a duo.
After a single encore the audience realized they had been hypnotized to dance away the night. Moon Duo might that have been a duo onstage that night but they created a duo with the audience.
Simply put, it was like we witnessed all the phases of the moon from new to full and even with a lunar eclipse in there somewhere. Also, I finally got to see Moon Duo.
Somehow, I still wish I could have seen them as a duo. Especially that one gig they had played before in Lisbon...
Report made by Carlos Ferreira/2013
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