Moon Duo at Heaven, London - Live Review

Psychedelicists blast off and forge their own identity

A shot of a crowd at a gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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The smartest move Moon Duo ever made was the addition of drummer John Jeffrey. In a live setting, acoustic drums are always going to have the edge over mechanised gonzo beats and so, in the process, Moon Duo have become less of a Wooden Shjips side project and more a band that has overtaken it antecedents. What they’ve come to realise is that it’s all down to the groove, and once you’ve got that down then everyone gets down. And tonight Moon Duo mine a groove so deep it’s a wonder they don’t reappear in Australia while bringing up one technicolour nugget after another.

Performing in front of a circular screen showing hypnotic, psychedelic imagery, it quickly becomes apparent that Moon Duo have stepped up to the next level. Current album Occult Architecture Vol 1 is their most fully realised to date, and those pulsing beats, metronomic throbs and Ripley Johnson’s creamily wah-wah’ed guitar aim straight for the feet as much as for the head.

The Death Set and Creepin’ provide an instant lift thanks to precision and flight, but it’s with the 10-minute White Rose that Moon Duo truly hit their stride with minimalist bass lines, motorik propulsion and six-string intervention.

A mesmerising performance of rhythmic psychedelia, Moon Duo are in an orbit of their own.

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.