Tuesday 12 November 2019

LIVE: Half Moon Run & Leif Vollebekk at Electric Brixton (7/11/19)

Last Thursday I had the utter joy of seeing Montreal indie rockers Half Moon Run headlining Electric Brixton at the London date of their tour supporting brand new album A Blemish in the Great Light. The album was released at the start of the month and I'm really enjoying it, with highlights for me being the single Favourite Boy, the quite intense and immense (over seven minutes long) Razorblade and the lyrically humorous Jello on my Mind.

Opening up for the band for the current run of European shows is fellow Canadian Leif Vollebekk , who created the perfect atmosphere for the show. It's a pretty positive sign when a support act can get some crowd participation going in the first track of their set. When not helping with harmonies or clapping/clicking, the crowd was mostly quiet for his set, respecting and clearly enjoying his music.  There was a really endearing effortlessness as he made up the setlist on the spot. Flitting between the piano and guitar, Leif's musicality was as compelling as his beautifully unique vocals which really captured my heart when I first heard his music through single Hot Tears a few months back. If you like the track below, he released his album New Ways on the same day as HMR - listen here.

Once Leif had finished up, it wasn't long until Half Moon Run took to the stage. I last saw them back in 2015 when they headlined the much smaller Oslo in Hackney, and I'd forgotten quite how impressive a live band they are. All multi-instrumentalists, they're each usually playing more than one instrument at once, or at least switching between one or two seamlessly within tracks. Drums and keys? No problem. Guitar, harmonica and keys? Easy. Slide guitar and guitar? Not an issue. All of this while coming together to create the sublime four part harmonies that the band are loved for. The result of these various additional instruments is that the band are able to create a much richer soundscape, with far more depth than you might expect from a four-piece band.

The setlist featured a mix of tracks from all three albums; the new record, their debut Dark Eyes and second album Sun Leads Me On. The newer tracks were received incredibly well and it seemed the crowd had already learned a lot of the lyrics, despite having had just under a week to do so! Favourites from the past two albums elicited a lot of singalongs, mainly on the likes of Call Me In The Afternoon and Full Circle, two of their best known songs from the debut. A highlight of the set was a stripped back performance of Sun Leads Me On at the front of the stage around one microphone, with the band showing that they can tackle the quieter tracks just as well.

There was a slightly overwhelming response from the crowd as the band took back to the stage for the encore, with unfailing clapping and cheering, which the band lapped up. Eventually, Dev asked for quiet for a "serious" song... cue Jello on my Mind. It was a really superb evening with two brilliant artists and a whole lot of talent on show. If you get the chance to see either of them live - be sure to take it. In fact, Communion have London shows coming up with both of them - Half Moon Run are at the Roundhouse on 12th March (tickets here) while Leif Vollebekk headlines Bush Hall on 28th April (tickets here.)

Follow Half Moon Run - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Leif Vollebekk - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

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