Kelly Moran


New Yorker Kelly Moran is a woman of many talents. Producer, composer and a multi instrumentalist, she released her first album Ultraviolet for the legendary Warp label last year to much acclaim, bringing her virtuoso piano skills together with moody electronics to a wider audience that she’s been exposed to before. Moran is here at Band on the Wall tonight in support of said album, promising an ‘AV show’ to go along with the twinkling landscapes she paints. Taking to the stage to polite applause, she asks us to not applaud during the show until the end, as she’s going to play the entirety of Ultraviolet in one go.

Sitting behind a beautiful piano with a laptop for the electronics and an iPad for reading her music, she’s flanked by several large white boards onto which projections entwined with the tracks are shown, painting a picture to accompany her intricate compositions. It’s literally a track for track interpretation of the album with no deviations save for a new track in the encore (from a hitherto unannounced EP she’s releasing this year), and as much as I want to be transported to another world through a mesmerising performance, I struggle a little to engage fully with it, feeling that it’s easier to admire than to love.

The musicianship is extraordinary, her elaborate compositions brought vividly to life with the kick of a brilliant sound system that regularly sends intense bass right through the room, reverberating through my entire body as she twinkles away on the ivories. The visuals are slightly underwhelming, but fit nicely with the music, transforming and mutating with every new track. The highlight is undoubtedly the brilliant one-two centre piece of ‘In Parallel’ followed by ‘Halogen’, the intensity of the two tracks and the stunning visuals that ape her album cover managing to momentarily do that transportation trick that I’d hoped the whole performance would supply. Having admired the album late last year, I’m struck by just how complex the tracks are in a live setting, the sheer amount of notes that Moran plays during each track an impressive feat alone; however, I can’t help but think of the infamous line from the film Amadeus, where the emperor, seemingly bored during one of Mozart’s operas, explains that he thought there were “simply too may notes”, to Mozart’s absolute disdain. It’s a feeling I have this evening, overwhelmed by the sheer intricacy of the tracks, sometimes finding it hard to take it all in in order to truly appreciate it.

The crowd are suitably reverent throughout, following Moran’s instructions to not applaud during the album, but it adds to an odd atmosphere that is one of chin stroking appreciation and admiration rather than the celebratory high that the best gigs provide. I don’t, by any stretch, not enjoy the gig, it’s just that it doesn’t quite take me to the place I thought it would. Maybe my expectations were unreasonable? In any case, one to chalk down as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘amazing’.

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