All This Happened, More or Less: Moby's Live Return to NYC

Photo: Sachyn Mital

After several years away (at least as a performer), Moby performed two intimate shows in New York City in support of Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt.

Before 2018, the last time I may saw Moby perform in NYC was way back in 2011 (I'm not suggesting this was the last time he performed here). The show was a small, promotional event for Destroyed at Barnes and Noble in Union Square. Prior to that, in 2010, I caught him perform a DJ set at the Electric Zoo Festival. Neither was not a full band performance -- the last one of those I saw was in 2009 at the Theater of Living Arts. (Moby himself noted, "honestly, it's because I'm old, can't remember the last time I played a show like this in New York City.")

But after seeing several of his live shows culminating in the 2009 gig, I recognized Moby had a certain schtick going. At some point in the night, he would play some of his hit songs in a different genre, or maybe even riff on it across several genres. That showed his musical dexterity, but it also came across as rote. His music, though evocative, often relies on repetition. So seeing him perform in a repetitive manner got a little tiring even if he new music helped to vary up the shows. But it was hard to believe it had been nine years since I saw him last.

Moby's last two official releases (excluding the Long Ambient works) were with the Void Pacific Choir and leaned more on his punk roots. But the new album Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt is a refreshing return to the form that made him famous -- Moby's continued to hone his brand of subdued, bluesy electronica. More importantly, he booked a few live shows (with a full band) to promote the record, and I couldn't miss this opportunity to see him again. My warmup for the first of Moby's two sold-out shows at Rough Trade was the broadcast of his performance "This Wild Darkness" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

And the Rough Trade show proved thrilling (even if the gospel chorus didn't attend). It leaned heavily on the new album (as one might imagine) but Moby delved into hits from 1999's Play (like his only #1, "Southside") and a few other jams, including his club anthem "Go" (his actual first release as well), one from 18 ("We Are All Made of Stars", dedicated to Stephen Hawking) and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". All the new material meshed well with the older hits -- music just flowed for nearly two hours sans gimmicks.

The formidable guitarist and his strong band smashed through track after track without an encore break pause (what would they do backstage, eat pizza?). Helping the bald vegan bring the new material to life were two of the new album's vocalists, Mindy Jones and Julie Mintz (on keys primarily), along with a drummer and a bassist. They sounded great, and I'm hoping these small shows are a warm-up for a bigger tour. Check out a recording of the show below (or here on Facebook if that link fails) and photos below.

Mere Anarchy
The Middle Is Gone
Falling Rain and Light
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
This Wild Darkness
The Tired and the Hurt
The Last of Goodbyes
A Dark Cloud Is Coming
The Sorrow Tree
The Ceremony of Innocence
Like a Motherless Child
Extreme Ways
South Side
Natural Blues
Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin) w/ Honey interlude
We Are All Made of Stars
Almost Home





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