Half Moon Run have always demonstrated their strengths as a live act. Onstage at The Triffid the group could do little to displace the fact. Returning to Australia for the first time since 2014, the quartet’s welcoming crowd teemed with excitement as the Canadian outfit took the stage.
Frontman Devon Portielje shifts between the husky timbre of a purring croon and soaring vocal melismas. A slick yet powerful live ensemble, the group poured over their respective instruments with confidence and quiet command.
The droning guitar jangle of ‘Unofferable’ proved itself as a poignant upswing of the early set. Devotional lyrics and brassy harmonica drew central focus. The sweeping ‘Everybody Wants’ projected mesmeric sway upon the crowd. A snaking tempo and wearied delivery cemented a warm and welcoming vibration.
A communal vibration descended amidst the crowd. At times stygian and operatic while at others a straight ahead country rocker, the song embraces the magpie mentality of the group. The addition of expressive slide guitar added an emotive gut punch as atmospheric sonics spilled out across the venue’s acoustic space. As the song verged towards its soaring crescendo, the comparison between Portejie’s warbling vocal and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke begged arresting comparison.
Following what appeared to be the unequivocal close to the set, a collective pattering of claps and stomps built to a roar. The audience remained steadfast, subjugating themselves in typically ritualistic pleas for the band’s return. The group indulged. Re-materialising onto the stage guitars noodle expectantly, yet the faint musical gesture is met with raucous salvos of applause. “Ah…I think we got a couple of more for ya,” Devon jibes.
The band breaks into ‘Fire Escape’. Replete with sugared harmonies, its clear that Half Moon Run have saved their best for last. The group sucks attention inward while twinkling guitar licks, yet more lovesick lyrical musings and mournful mouth harp ply their way. The song leaks with abandonment.
While this encore seemed like an afterthought to those in attendance, these closing licks certainly hit home. Intense swells of instrumentals provided a thundering conclusion. Crashing guitar licks and sweeping washes of synthesised sounds flickered around a pounding rhythm. The crowd swayed with violence, lost in the ascendant builds, but the closing track dissapates no sooner than it arrives.
Gallery: Half Moon Run – The Triffid, Brisbane 11/01/2017 / Photos: Rebecca Reid