Live Music + Gig Reviews

Moby @ Roundhouse, London

31 July 2011

He may refer to himself as ‘the little idiot’, but Moby’s plan for closing night at the iTunes festival was a pretty smart one, packing his set with hits, and uptempo ones at that.

This has been a big year for the festival, attracting big names to its month long bill with impressive regularity, and while the execution may still err on the side of corporate, there is a genuine desire to give the competition winners the experience they have been expecting.

The two-tier bill started off with Silver Apples, now a solo act under the concern of Simeon Coxe III. For half an hour he did battle with his self-built synthesizer, constructing tracks of unexpected depth of feeling. Very much a case of ‘less is more’, I Don’t Know contained poignant observations within its beats and squiggles, while the quicker numbers generated energy among the crowd if not as much through Coxe, who remained largely stationery, occasionally looking like he was tinkering with a lawnmower as he went about his electronic business.

Moby clearly recognises his long standing influence, and dedicated his performance of Go to the pioneer. This was second up in a hugely impressive set which was heavy on hits and low on filler. Save for an opening salvo of Be The One, there were few references to new album Destroyed, the band choosing instead to pump up the beats and speed up the music.

There was plenty of nervous energy to get rid of in the opening, Moby earnestly striding around the stage as his music took hold, but as his set took shape he got visibly more assured, especially as his secret weapon, Joy Malcolm, was playing a blinder. Malcolm’s range really has to be heard to be believed, and it was hard to reconcile that the fulsome alto for Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? was the very same voice that hurled out the emotive highs of In This World.

Moby sings too, of course, and he helped raise the spirits with a stellar double of Lie Down In Darkness – awash with a sunshine backdrop – and We Are All Made Of Stars, funked up considerably to navigate its own projected galaxy. There was time for a more soulful approach – Malcolm taking centre stage for Bring Sally Up – and for an unscheduled look at Moby’s punk aesthetic, That’s When I Reach For My Revolver given out with the aid of bass and drums alone.

The energy levels grew still further, Moby refuting his own claim that on Sunday night everyone “drinks tea and does…Scrapbook or something” with a set of tunes designed to release the endorphins. Lift Me Up did just that, the first of a trilogy with the storming Move (You Make Me Feel So Good) and Disco Lies, while when the foot came off the pedal Porcelain was there for the camera-wielding masses.

As an encore we had Honey and then, to bring the house down, Feeling So Real – proclaimed by Moby as his own favourite, ‘bringing out the rave kid in all of us’. It certainly did that, part of a set showing off his versatility and rounding off the weekend with a bang.

Moby played: Be The One, Sevastopol, In My Heart, Go, Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?, The Day, We Are All Made Of Stars, Raining Down, Bring Sally Up, Bodyrock, That’s When I Reach For My Revolver, Porcelain, The Low Hum, In This World, Extreme Ways, Hymn, Lift Me Up, Move (You Make Me Feel So Good), Disco Lies, Natural Blues, Honey. Encore: Feeling So Real

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