Click here for photos of Moby at South-by-Southwest 2011 in Austin, TX in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for QRO’s review of Moby at Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR on October 19th, 2010
Moby, whose new album Destroyed is released alongside with a coffee table book of some of his pictures taken in the last few years, toured a few museums to promote this multimedia experience. His last date before flying to Europe was Brooklyn, NY, where he not only chatted with NPR Soundcheck’s John Schaefer, but also treated his audience with an acoustic set.
The short Q&A covered, of course, some of his photography and the story behind a handful of pictures, his amazement of empty cities in the middle of the night, his angst facing big crowds (especially during daytime sets), his DIY filming of the video of "After" with a Flip cam, actress Heather Graham as an archangel in the video for "The Day", his move to L.A. (which could be summarized by, "The rent is too damn high") and his extensive collection of analogic beat box machines.
Then, after a short intermission, the real fun began.
Moby introduced Inyang Bassey and Kelli Scarr on vocal, Claudia Chopek on violin and long time friend Daron Murphy on harmonica, and started playing a mix of new tunes, "The Day", classics from Play such as "Porcelain", "Natural Blues", "We’re All Made of Stars" (from 18), and several covers like Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire", a sultry version of "Whole Lotta Love", involving a violin/harmonica battle (who knew this song is about anal sex?), and a powerful rendition of a lullaby Moby’s mother used to sing to him and that Kelli Star now sings to her kid.
What made the performance so genuine is the complicity between Moby and the musicians, and their individual talent. Bassey’s voluptuous voice and wide range and Scarr’s singular tone complete and compliment each other; Chopek’s ease to improvise, following Moby on guitar or dueling Murphy’s harmonica.
After being notified that he had one song left before the museum closing time, and playing a few measures of "The End", Moby and crew closed the set with the long version of "Honey" (including a bit of Black Sabbath’s "War Pigs").
Not all music can be reduced to its essence and one would think that Moby’s, with all its electronic roots, layers, effects would make a poor candidate for an acoustic set, but Moby is an analogic musician using digital instruments and the conversion of his songs to one guitar, one violin, one harmonica and a couple of (amazing) voices show that there is a heart inside this self-proclaimed bald alien, and that heart is probably bigger than yours.