Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ian Moore Live at the Granada Theatre

Ian Moore / Radiant*

@ Granada Theater

December 2, 2004

Ian Moore’s “Society” could be a blueprint for the revision of the Granada Theater from second-run movie house into a beating heart of the Dallas music scene. The red-lit stage surrounded by violet candles is the perfect Ian Moore venue. The nearly gothic art deco interior infuses a luminescent counterpoint to the western feel of Moore’s music, evocative of the wide-open spaces of the human heart. This was a night of mellow rock by candlelight, opening with the spiritual melodic pop of Radiant* and culminating a long Ian Moore blues virtuosity.

In all fairness to Radiant*, it just wasn’t singer Levi Smith’s night. Babying his voice because of illness, Smith’s usual passion was only approximated. But with new strobes and a helpful soundtech, plus an especially heavy hand on the smoke effects, the show was as theatrical as ever. More low-key than usual, Radiant* set the laid-back mood for the night. Dragan Jakovljevic and Daniel Hopkins were intense throughout and Smith’s voice finally caught up with him on “Do Not Delay,” which they ended like a musical prayer.

Ian Moore’s obligatory black blazer, striped mod shirt, shaggy mop top, and vintage Levi’s jeans mark him as an indie rocker, but beneath the understated trappings, his heart is that of a bluesman. Still producing records on vinyl, Moore also admits to being a Bee Gees fan, who were better songwriters than their ‘70s silk shirts allowed them credit. Luminaria was produced in an alternative universe where music is the thread between friends. Moore brought a little piece of that world with him to Dallas. In “Ordinary People” -where ‘friendships are like fanzines’- Moore lamented the falseness of the underground with deep thumps on the kick drum that resonated in the audience’s heart and gut. Moore introduced “New Day” as a “simple song with a complex bridge, just like me.” His grimacing, tongue-thrusting vocals and punctuating drum added depth to the poignant lyrics. Moore promised “one more, and then I’ll get my friends up to do bass and drums.” The cool, higher vocal range of Paul Hiraga provided counterpoint to Ian’s warm resonant voice. They are, by their own admission, opposite images of each other. Moore is the light, Hiraga is the dark. Where Ian’s edges are rounded and mellow, Paul’s are more angular and strung out. Backed by Fernando Braxton blasting soulful horns, Lauren Fogle on bass (also an Austin-Seattle transplant who hung out with Ian as friends before being asked to join the tour), and Travis Garaffa (formerly with The Picket Line Coyotes) on drums, Moore relied on the band’s accompaniment for only about a third of the set. Musicians came and went from the stage as if at a jam session. It was all very relaxed.

Not going for the buck, but rather the pure glory of songcraft for an appreciative and responsive crowd, Moore was true to his muse. His songs are sung with mature emotion, an energy tinged with sadness. His progression from rock into folk is not a departure but rather an evolution of his music. The feel of Luminaria most closely resembles the longing of “Blue Sky” from Moore’s 1993 self-titled album. He played for an hour and half, a set not derailed by a broken string, and filled with the ability to evoke intense aching; songs about a mother’s death, friends who didn’t show, and many beautiful women. Moore’s genius is shepherding us into a mood that encourages putting your head on a lover’s shoulder and sinking into the depth of the songs. Moore creates a place you don’t want to leave. The minimal but cool light effects bled up the walls, and spots ran over the audience and amplified the brilliant, dreamy atmosphere. “It’s gothy- god damn, I left my mascara at home,” joked Moore, “This is a beautiful place; I wish we had something like this in Austin. It’s a wonderful spot, I’m grateful to play here.” The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes, as they will turn out to be just people. With Ian Moore, that is a blessing, not a curse.

-- Kate Mackley

Ian Moore is returning to Dallas on Dec 30th at Bend Studios to promote Luminaria, his latest release on YepRoc. Paul Hiraga can be found in Downpilot.




Set list:

What I’ve Done


Kangaroo Lake

Blue Sky



New Day


Ordinary People

Everyday Dream



New Orleans



Originally published ©2004 Dallas Music Guide

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