Poor Moon, The Lexington, London
Tuesday 04 September 2012
"We can sink some Pro Plus… or some sex pills," suggests a dazed Christian Wargo as an after gig "treat" for the intimate crowd.
The singer’s proposal feels like a far cry from the pastoral whimsy of the Fleet Foxes of which Wargo and his fellow, bearded (of course) Poor Mooner, Casey Wescott, are members. However, Poor Moon is one of those rare side projects that categorically works.
Fleet Foxes, which is controlled by pack leader Robin Pecknold, tip-toed their folkie feet into prog-rock on their latest album, Helplessness Blues, but Wargo and Wescott go further on their debut Poor Moon (named after the Canned Heat track from 1966), experimenting with a range of sounds (they employ a harpsichord, marimba and fretless zither tonight) without losing those soaring, haunting harmonies.
The duo are assisted by brothers Ian and Peter Murray, from little-known indie act The Christmas Cards, and apparently this Pacific Northwest "supergroup" have been swapping song ideas for four years. The themes, as with the Fleet Foxes’ material, are not terribly taxing: flowing rivers, heaven’s door, golden flowers, the early morning light, summer breezes, losing the trail, forlorn love, passing away… But the live sound is sumptuous, and even gets away with jaybirds tweeting and crickets chirping as on "Clouds Below". Ultimately, however much these artists are trying to extend themselves the twee(t) message is clear, their sound is still a safe place; this is more Little House on the Prairie than Straw Dogs.
Nevertheless, Poor Moon’s influences are legion; languid, lolloping tracks such as "Come Home", "People in Her Mind" (from their breezy EP Illusions) and "Birds" recall The Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Big Star, George Harrison, the Beach Boys (particularly Pet Sounds), JJ Cale and Paul Simon.
Wargo's awkward on-stage banter could do with some honing, though. "We played in Manchester last night," he drawls at one point before being corrected by Ian Murray. “Er, we didn't play in Manchester last night… Darn." It barely matters as Wargo's heavenly vocals consistently satisfy, as on tonight’s two standout tracks, the evocative "Waiting For" and the melancholic "Pulling Me Down", with the tangy lyric "I couldn't keep it silent, I didn't know that sadness could be so violent."
It must be a little odd for Wargo and Wescott to be performing on such a tiny stage after the mammoth success of the Fleet Foxes, but they appear at home here, relaxed with their free-wheeling flights of whimsy. Two foxes could well be fleeing the pack soon…
Sitting by the Riverside
Hindsight in New Jersey
No Good Trying
People in Her Mind
Pulling Me Down
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'