Confession: I never watch videos of live shows. “Why?” you may ask. Because after all these years of listening to music until each lyric and bassline has been soldered into memory, I prefer to keep the element of surprise inherent with live shows in tact. So when I walked into the Fonda last Thursday after playing a rousing game of find the free parking in Hollywood expecting to see Moby working the decks solo, I was floored when I was instead greeted by a full band helmed by the Dean Pelton-lookalike himself.
Before you whip on those technicality pants, I fully realize that the show was billed as “Moby Live;” however, generally when an electronic musician is billed as performing a “live” set, promoters are referring to live mixing. Not the case here. I was greeted instead by a guitar-wielding Moby, Inyang Bassey’s robust vocals belting out the chorus of “Don’t Love Me,” and inordinately attractive backup band members rocking out on the keyboards, bass, and drums. The smile that graced my face in that moment remained firmly planted there for the next three hours.
Given that the entirety of Moby’s Innocents tour consisted of three shows at Hollywood’s historic Fonda Theatre (suck it, not LA), I knew right off the bat that this would be a special night. The 3.5 hours of musical bliss comprised two parts. The first set was composed entirely of material from the new album while the longer second set was a “greatest hits” performance covering the 20+ years of Moby’s dominance in the electronic world.
I’ve previously gone off raving about Innocents like a frothing lunatic, so I was more than happy to start with the new release’s set. Al Spx of Cold Specks fame graced the stage for a stunning live rendition of “A Case For Shame” complete with blinding beams of light that swayed in time to the music. Equally enchanting was Skylar Grey performing “The Last Day,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. Still, the biggest moment from the first set was by far a cameo keyboard performance by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (yeah, you read that right). To his credit, he’s legitimately quite good!
After a short intermission, the two-hour greatest hits extravaganza began. I could write an opus about how incredible it was to hear all these classic tracks from someone whose career has spanned much of my time on this planet, but instead I’ll opt for the markedly more succinct HOLY SHIT!
Highlights included the gorgeous “Porcelain,” the driving pulses of “Lift Me Up,” acoustic versions of “Slipping Away” and “In This World,” Skylar Grey’s surprise encore in the form of backing vocals for “Southside,” the soulfully somber “Natural Blues,” and an earth-shatteringly, face-meltingly epic rendition of my favorite Moby track, “Bodyrock.” Really though, the entire set was a highlight in and of itself.
As a semi-jaded music blogger who averages a concert a week, I’ve become desensitized to the exciting allure that concerts once held for me. If concerts were my boyfriend — and let’s face it, given how much time I spend at/with them, they may as well be — I’d be long-past the initial honeymoon phase and firmly settled into the comfortable phase. Sure, I still love them to pieces and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but the once-blinding sheen of OMG-I’m-so-amped newness has been somewhat dulled by the occasional observations of their shortcomings.
But once in a blue moon, a set that makes me swoon and smile from ear to ear comes along and sweeps me off my feet. This was that mythical Prince Charming of a set. It’s been a long, long time since I witnessed something of this caliber, and I look forward to seeing what Moby impresses me with next.