The lights are inspired by a traffic accident scene in a lightning storm. The percussion is straight from a prison riot. And the whole event feels like a documentary of those moments preceding death when your life is flashing before your eyes. Moby live is a riveting confluence of man and machine, of exorcising demons and catharsis. In the end, when the lithe and compact Moby rises from a Neanderthal crouch into a crucifixion pose bathed inred light, the artist has completed a life cycle in 75 minutes.
Presence is his strong point. His voice is far too often an indiscernible scream. His guitar playing is rudimentary and his chordal structures rarely venture beyond Songwriting 101. But the rhythmic textures — an engrossing mixture of electronics and acoustic timbales, trap drums and congas — propel this music to heights no other artist working within an aggressive dance medium, specifically techno and industrial, has been able to achieve.
Judged by the mixed crowd that filled Legion Hall and focused intently on the music and visuals, Elektra artist Moby is tapping into a broad age and race spectrum. It’s Moby’s human touch that’s making the difference in this musical form dominated by volume and machines.
Moby’s uniqueness is clearly his scruffy-yet-precise amalgamation of a wide array of musical forms from the last 20 years. Hardcore punk, disco, jazz-rock fusion, ambient — even covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama”) and Jimi Hendrix (“Purple Haze”) play roles in the Moby oeuvre. It has street credibility and a viable classiness — a rare combo — that makes it suitable for mass consumption.
Openers Sensor also try to meld disparate elements: rap, techno, hardcore, flute solos and ambient. The A&M act is at its best in softer moments, when the band allows some formlessness to creep into its material.