Deaf Institute, Manchester
25th March 2013
Willy Moon describes himself as if rock’n’roll had been deep-frozen in 1965, just before the Beatles discovered acid, and abruptly reanimated 45 years later by a laptop hip hop producer. Alana Turk was in Manchester for the recent gig at the Deaf Institute.
With his debut album out next month, the Kiwi-Brit retro pop performer Willy Moon is currently on tour and creating quite a stir within audiences. Combining a mix of 1950’s rock, modern digital beats and blues vocals, he has a unique edge and powerful sound that is almost certain to make him an international musical maverick. As I enter the Deaf Institute, I am not surprised to find it absolutely rammed, from the front of the room to the toilets at the back…
Moon bounds onto the stage, oozing with charisma from head to toe in his dark and dapper suit. His presence alone seems to have injected a shot of adrenaline into the fans – probably aided a little by his drop dead gorgeous female backing band and their slightly transparent apparel! The short-but-sweet set opens with the Little Willie John classic, ‘I’m Shakin’’, which was brought out as a single by Jack White last year. From the onset, Moon has the audience eating out the palm of his hand. With all songs lasting less than three minutes each – in true rock and roll fashion – the set proves to be intense. The crowd, are fully engaged and shuffle along to the rhythm with great enthusiasm.
Moon’s perfectly combed hair does not stay in place for very long. Just three songs into his set and he is dripping over the audience as he throws himself about and leans over the edge of the stage during ‘Fire’. One of the crowd favourites, ‘Railroad Track’, sees Moon’s high energy levels have a momentary relapse as he collapses onstage – still managing to sing pitch perfect, regardless of where he is lying. ‘Yeah Yeah’ appears to be the most recognized track of the night – obviously due to its use on the recent Apple iPod adverts – as feel good vibes resonate throughout the room.
“Can I be your towel?” asks a female fan in the front row. After a swift unsure look to the rest of the crowd, Moon shrugs off any doubt and kneels down before her to much applause. Wiping the sweat from his face with her sleeves and hands, the woman then screams, “I TOUCHED WILLY MOON!”. The rest of the room let out whistles and cheers as he responds, “You can all touch me after the show okay?”. Moon truly has this bunch in a frenzy.
Spirits are extremely high as the band start playing ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, with every figure under the huge disco ball dancing along to the beat. Still giving this performance everything he’s got, it is evident why Moon has sold out this show tonight. His singing and dancing abilities draw you in it’s true, but the entire atmosphere this man manages to create is incredibly infectious and something quite special.
With a slight look of exhaustion, Moon embraces his guitarist and kisses her on the neck as she rolls her eyes and looks slightly embarrassed. He then introduces her and his drummer as Juliette and Gigi, to much applause and a significant amount of wolf whistles. The night has hit its peak, albeit maybe far too soon. Thanking the crowd once more, the trio begin to close the set with ‘My Girl’, roughly only half an hour after they had graced the stage.
Proving to be a very intimate gig indeed, it becomes apparent that this bottomless pit of energy that is Willy Moon, truly knows how to work a room. Constant interaction with the audience and spoken appreciation makes Moon a wonderfully gracious host. His superb vocal range, individual style and suave moves all factor into him being a top performer. If you get the chance go and see him now, up close and personal – while you still can.
All words by Alana Turk. More work by alana on Louder Than War can be found here. Photograph by Erik van Ekelenburg.