Last night on vacation in Calgary had to be spent at a gig, right? Hello Moth and BMBSHL were on the cards for the night – something rather different from the normal.
It was BMBSHL’s, the brainchild of Canadian songwriter and producer Brenda MacQuarrie, first solo show – when this gig was booked she was performing with a full band who had since split up, so it was as much of a learning experience for MacQuarrie as it was the audience. Her voice was strong and the sheer amount of equipment she used was in itself an impressive feat, but there were occasions when her voice got lost due to everything else she had going on. When she’s realised just what an asset her voice actually is and starts to rely more on this than the synthesised sounds she’s also producing and instead uses them as an accompaniment, she’ll start to accomplish the potential she has. As it was, she certainly piqued the curiosity of the audience, who grew warmer towards her as her set went on. The music itself was a high standard- she describes herself as electronica soul, but that doesn’t nearly begin to describe the atmosphere she creates. Every note was hugely thought out and perfectly placed, starting the night off with a powerful impact that was to continue for the rest of the evening. She may have lost her vowels but she’s certainly won over some new fans,and with some slight changes to her sound to really spotlight her voice, she’s going to be a beautiful performer to watch in the future.
Hello Moth – it’s pretty much impossible to describe what exactly this entity is. Throughout the set Hello Moth, the solo venture of the singer with Canadian proggers Diatessaron, uses a loop pedal, synthesiser, hugely powerful voice and various techniques to make a world of noise and sound that’s just that tiny bit different each time it’s performed, as everything about the show is live. The audience had two full sets to look forward for this show, each featuring a whole host of different experiences. It’s unusual to find a solo artist who falls into the ‘indescribable by genre’ category as mostly, there’s only a limited amount that one person can do. However, Hello Moth appears to push the boundaries of the normal, the recommendable and the generally accepted to create something that’s a world of its own.
Songs range from the painfully heartfelt Hold Me Goodbye to a completely reworked traditional songs like Rain And Snow, each song only being alike in their ability to bring something completely different to the table. Hello Moth’s vocal work is everything from classically trained high notes, angelically sung and designed to capture the audiences’ admiration to plunging and spat out growling words, designed to instil and inspire unease and discomfort in everybody’s preconceived notions of what the show would be. Added to this already almost lethal combination, Hello Moth’s stage presence is also absolutely spot on – the show completely consisted of him strutting around the stage, singing directly into peoples’ eyes and making sure that every single person in the room felt as though the show was being performed solely for them.
Adding a touch of beauty and spectacle to the show was the supremely talented Carisa Hendrix, an entertainer resplendent in a water nymph costume for the song River, and needless to say, she had everybody’s hearts and imaginations captured within seconds of coming onstage. If all the above hadn’t been enough to completely win over an audience, Hello Moth also added some Inuit throat-singing techniques and styles into some songs. This is a pretty rare technique that not many people can boast of, and it was fascinating to be able to see this kind of singing performed in the live environment. A version of Silent Night incorporating the WW1 story about English and German troops was hugely well received, and a thought felt touch to a pre-Christmas gig.
Hello Moth’s show encompassed everything that can be versatile, exciting and beautiful about music. While some of the audience looked a little bemused and confused some of the time, all the audience left feeling as though they’d experienced a night rather than seen a show. All the time flamboyantly projecting dark and light contrasts, Hello Moth owned every inch of the stage for the entirety of the night and even the show lighting, subtle as it was, followed and highlighted every contour of the performance. A Song About Devotion is not only a stunning example of a Hello Moth song, but also a reference to the entire Hello Moth entity – the lyrics “don’t be afraid, I’ll show you how” sum up the live experience of a Hello Moth show. It’s bewildering, exciting and a journey in itself, led by a performer who pours true emotion into every note that he sings.