The audience was palpably teeming; shifting from foot to foot impatiently while standing shoulder to shoulder with a full house of Half Moon Run’s fans. The band’s entrance was welcomed with a massive cheer, which quietened just as quickly as it roared; frontman Devon Portielje’s haunting vocals soon hypnotised listeners who stood and stared in a trance, seemingly dumbfounded.
Although Half Moon Run are renowned for their stunning three-part harmonies, it was still awe-inspiring to hear the rich, vocal layers in the flesh; with Portielje at the helm, he steered Molander, Phillips and Symonds through a series of delicately-balanced melodies that sent shivers down every spine in the room.
Half Moon Run at The Triffid - image supplied
Despite the band’s evident strengths in singing, their incredible use of instrumentation is also something to behold; members switched between guitars, keyboards and percussions aptly and capably without breaking the spell between songs; the harmonica in particular sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The set-list comprised of an interesting combination lead by tracks from recent album ‘Sun Leads Me On’, sustained by emotion-tugging classes from ‘Dark Eyes’ and heightened by heavier, more rock-inspired releases, such as ‘Turn Your Love’ and ‘It Works Itself Out’.
With an instrumental introduction drawn-out tantalisingly before launching into the first verse, ‘Sun Leads Me On’ encompassed all of Half Moon Run’s most distinct qualities in only four minutes of music; choral vocal strength, intricate guitar riffs, and an ability to build so much raw emotion, the track’s abrupt closure leaves the listener feeling breathless. A stunning piece.
The band exited the stage without a word, crowd revelling in the predictable though exhilarating demand for an encore, stamping and yelling until the boys re-emerged: “I think we have a couple more for you.”
‘Fire Escape’ lulled the audience over with gentle guitar licks and honeyed harmonies, while the highly anticipated ‘Trust’ next triggered an eruption from fans, showcasing Portielje’s admirable vocal range, the band’s multiple instrumental prowess, and their ability to produce some truly powerful music.
‘Full Circle’ proved the perfect closure, crowd chiming along in unison while Half Moon Run reminded us how and why their career kicked off.
On top of boasting a stellar venue and a dazzling light show, Half Moon Run’s performance at The Triffid is difficult to describe in technical terms; terrific musicianship, a seamless change of tempo between songs, and spell-binding vocals can only go so far in summarising the band’s overwhelming talent.
I once noted that, while etched with similar underlying tones as ‘Dark Eyes’, ‘Sun Leads Me On’ demonstrates significant progression lyrically, harmonically and musically, arguably establishing Half Moon Run as one to worship, instead of one to watch.
If the band continues to rise on their currently sky-rocketing career trajectory, album number three is certain to solidify the Canadian four-piece as one to remember, as well.