The Moonlandingz, Belgrave Music Hall Leeds, 26.08.15

The Moonlandingz are brought down to earth at the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds

the moonlandingzThe Moonlandingz are a fictional band brought to life: a creation of The Eccentronic Research Council (The ERC), a musical duo from Sheffield. The ERC’s spoken-word-to-mostly-incidental-music tells the tale of an overly obsessive fan, her story voiced by Manchester actress Maxine Peake. She becomes infatuated with The Moonlandingz’s singer, Johnny Rocket, and begins an amateur career as a superfan/stalker before ending Rocket’s life with a swift rock to the head.

The fictional Moonlandingz are a struggling beginning band, playing to practically no one across the North of England, wearing lederhosen and tinfoil socks. The now real Moonlandingz are much different. The ERC have recruited some friends and label-buddies, including Lias (as Johnny Rocket) and Saul from the Fat White Family. The Moonlandingz in the flesh is a more serious affair, the band appearing somewhat stoic in front of a pretty full Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds. The band had played a reportedly explosive show at the considerably smaller Broadcast in Glasgow the night before, Twitter users going mad about how it resembled an Iggy and the Stooges revival with the audience showered in sweat and cheap alcohol. According to the band there was a lot expected from Leeds as a follow up to such a strong opening show.

The Moonlandingz start off with “Sweet Saturn Mine” and “Psyche Ersatz”, both from their debut EP. Their music is good electronic rock, with the lightest sprinkle of weird to keep things interesting. Sweet Saturn Mine has a rhythm that encourages jumping around, it’s like a messed up indie pop song laced with innuendo and dark goings-on. The middle section of the set was dedicated to the new songs the band had just debuted on Marc Riley’s show on BBC Radio 6 Music, one of which was a serpentine old rock’n’roll tune, and without being able to hear the lyrics properly you can only imagine what kind of debauchery was going on there.

I’d say things were going well, the crowd were attentive and numerous – a great turnout for the band’s first gig in Leeds. But not far along one of the musicians called out to the audience that the set was going to be short because of the lack of movement – kind of strange to hear from a man sitting behind a keyboard, but I digress. It boggles the mind how an audience who are clearly listening to the music, paying the band all the attention, etc, is seen as a bad thing just because they’re not all dancing or bouncing into each other. The atmosphere of a show very much relies on both the band and the audience but the first step towards a good gig needs to be taken by the band – the music needs to be there, ticking all the boxes, for the audience to ‘click’ with them. The songs were played well, but the band did not make the effort needed to work the crowd.

Perhaps after the show in Glasgow there was a feeling that the music will do the work for itself, so why aren’t these people going mad for us already? Some crowds need to feed off the energy from the musicians to get going, or drink quite a bit more, or just be in a different mood. If you take a single person out of a crowd it can change a show’s dynamics. Maybe the audience weren’t feeling it, maybe their “moshing” days are long behind them, maybe the band just weren’t interesting enough to watch. But overall, the show felt flat. Cutting it early meant that there was no recovery option for the Moonlandingz in Leeds tonight. They seemed to be expecting a spectacle to unfold in front of them rather than in actually creating one themselves.

After 30, 40 minutes on stage the Moonlandingz had failed to “bring it”. The Moonlandingz were brought down to earth (maybe only momentarily if the other tour dates resemble the fabled Glasgow show): here we can see that as a fairly new band you have to go out and earn a 100% wild tour. Sometimes you can’t make it on reputation alone.

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