Live: Half Moon Run @ Roundhouse

Devon Portielje of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Devon Portielje and Conner Molander of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Playing their biggest headline show to date, Montréal-based indie rockers Half Moon Run returned to Camden, albeit the Chalk Farm end, just a few months after their explosive Koko show following the release of their second studio album Sun Leads Me On.

Yes, I went along to their Koko show (read all about that one here) and immediately went out and grabbed tickets for this Roundhouse follow-up as soon as it was announced. Why? Because I haven’t enjoyed a show so much in a while and the chance to do it all again was too much to resist, being asked along to take a few photos was just an added bonus.

Formed of multi-instrumentalists and singers all: Devon Portielje, Conner Molander, Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds, the band exude an energy and confidence in their live show you wouldn’t necessarily expect from listening to their two incredible albums.

Conner Molander of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Conner Molander of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

But before we dive into that, this time around the group brought along fellow Canuck Aidan Knight who fronts an experimental folk band of the same name to open. Joking about the misspelling of his name as Aidian Knight on posters advertising the night, the 29-year-old suggested to the Roundhouse audience that his band Aidan Knight might just be the best Aidian Knight covers band out there before ploughing into third album Each Other track The Arp, the structure of the almost seven minute long tune really highlighting the experimental nature of the band’s material, long instrumental bursts shifting focus between horns, drums and guitar, interspersed with Knight’s mellow vocals.

Aidan Knight (Kalpesh Patel)

Aidan Knight (Kalpesh Patel)

Following sufficient warming up of the crowd by Knight, the four members of Half Moon Run appeared on stage to huge cheers but kicked off a stellar 90 minutes of rock show which the rather mellow Sun Leads Me On opener Warmest Regards before throwing themselves full pelt into Turn Your Love, Portielje stepping out from behind his dual microphone, keyboards, drums and guitar setup whenever he could and Molander, sharing the front of the stage, flailing his long hair around as he switched between bass and lead guitars alongside vocal harmonies.

Conner Molander of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Conner Molander of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

“London, you’re beautiful!” shouted Portielje before launching into I Can’t Figure Out What’s Going On, the slow introduction leading into the band’s famous four-part harmonies.

Nerve was the first airing of material from 2012’s Dark Eyes, the mellow track encouraging a gentle head nod from the North London crowd.

“This is actually the single biggest headline show of our career so far, so thank you” 28-year-old Portielje said before the quartet continued with Sun Leads Me On track Narrow Margins, cheers from the crowd as a female audience member threw a bra onto the stage.

It Works Itself Out demonstrated the sheer energy of Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds, while situated behind Portielje and Molander, it was their duelling drumming that added the heavy dynamic to compliment Portielje’s high falsetto.

Dylan Phillips of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Dylan Phillips of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Dark Eyes’ track Need It took the set in a slow blues direction, Portielje lost in his guitar as the stage lights dimmed to blue and purple hues to compliment the tune.

Poking fun at a pair of knickers that had been thrown in his direction, Portielje lifted up the underwear and joked “The first thing I do is check for skid marks”, laughter rippling across the crowd. Putting them down he continued “I’m going to leave them there … for later consumption.”

Devon Portielje of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

Devon Portielje of Half Moon Run (Kalpesh Patel)

The main set was closed out with sophomore record track Consider Yourself, Portielje riling the audience by playing his guitar with his teeth during the song.

Following a three-song encore, closed out with Dark Eyes single Full Circle, Half Moon Run made a return to the stage bringing out tour mates Aidan Knight for a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1967 song I Shall Be Released, the newly expanded eight-piece band making the most of Julia Knight and Olivier Clements’ flugelhorn skills with Portielje & Knight sharing a mic for vocals but also handing over lead vocal duties to Isaac Symonds for a time.

Half Moon Run and Aidan Knight (Kalpesh Patel)

Half Moon Run and Aidan Knight (Kalpesh Patel)

It’s clear to see that this is a band that exudes energy beyond the recorded form and will certainly be making waves this festival season. Expect this Roundhouse show to be considered small in years to come.

Half Moon Run head back to their native Montréal next for four sold out shows at the city’s Metropolis venue ahead of a US tour. They then take to festival stages throughout the summer with stops at the Isle of Wight, Lattitude, and Belgium’s Pukkelpop before hitting up the twin Reading and Leeds festivals.

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Live review of Half Moon Run with Aidan Knight @ Roundhouse by Kalpesh Patel on 23rd March 2016.

Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here:

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