Moby/Silver Apples, Roundhouse, London
Moby gives fans a whale of a time
Wednesday 03 August 2011
In 1968, the American duo Silver Apples became the first example of a phenomenon that would eventually take over pop: the electronic duo. Essentially just a drummer and a chap called Simeon who used his hands, feet and elbows to operate a bizarre conglomeration of oscillators (which he called The Simeon), Silver Apples were at least a decade ahead of their time. They achieved cult status in hindsight.
Simeon subsequently revived the Silver Apples brand and tonight he is supporting Moby, his modern kit perched on a flight-case. With his turtleneck sweater, spectacles and greying hair, he looks like the leader of some Californian cult from The Rockford Files as he twiddles knobs, sending frizzy whines and tremors of electronic noise soaring around the Roundhouse, most effectively over the rumbling, funky groove of Silver Apples' signature, "Oscillations".
Moby has moved in the other direction: once a one-man operation, his seven-piece band now accommodates drums, keyboards and string section, with a further keyboard, congas and timbales for Moby's personal use. However, he spends much of his time wielding a guitar, displaying slick funk rhythm work on "We Are All Made Of Stars" and later essaying an impressively soulful wah-wah solo.
The set is drawn from most of Moby's career except, it seems, his current project, Destroyed, its more understated pieces not fitting the relentlessly bangin' nature of tonight's song list. Only a punkish cover of Mission of Burma's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" interrupts the characteristic see-sawing string motifs, plaintive piano figures, crucial chord-changes and pile-driver rhythms that bring fond memories of more luvved-up times to the Roundhouse crowd.
Fists pump the air to "Natural Blues", "Body Rock" and "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad", the last providing the first of several showcases for the thunder-lunged soul singer Joy Malcom, who seems to dominate centre-stage more than the elfin techno-boffin himself. "Go" is dedicated to Simeon, "because without Silver Apples, electronic music probably wouldn't exist."
"Lift Me Up" is dedicated, in Spanish, to Moby's South American fans, after he enquires how many of the audience are not from England. The response – somewhere in the region of 40 per cent – speaks not just of Moby's wide appeal, but of London's cosmopolitan charm.
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