24.08.2023 in Review

Concert review

Moonalice is a band of veteran musicians. The members of the band are solo guitarist Barry Sless, keyboardist and vocalist Pete Sears, bass guitarist Roger McNamee and drummer John Molo. However, they are all multi-instrumentalists and often change their roles on the stage. They perform their original songs but also sometimes they cover some popular songs of such prominent artists as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Now I would like to mention the concert Moonalice gave at the Union Square in San Francisco on June 19, 2013.

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The audience was not numerous and at first people felt themselves constrained but after several songs they were warmed-up and became active, singing and dancing. I noticed that the public was of various ages. It means that the band is popular among old and young people. The surroundings were not typical for classic rock concert. Moreover, it was a daytime, so it was really uncomfortable at first. Nevertheless, I came there to enjoy high-quality music and especially to listen to how Barry Sless plays his magical and virtuosic solos with blues tinge. Unfortunately, I did not feel the drive of rock concert. However, it is understandable, because the group consists of seasoned musicians and, unfortunately, they do not have the youthful ardor.

The concert was opened by Down the Road a Piece. That is an energetic and exciting rockabilly song. Moonalice performed the song in the best traditions of Jerry Lee Lewis and set a mood of the whole concert. I admired many songs from this concert, and one of them is Daylight. First of all, I liked the lingering and melodic solo played by Sless. He was playing his solo almost during the whole song, progressively developing it and improvising. In addition, the song combined several musical styles, such as folk music and reggae. The verses were played in reggae style, while the choruses were performed in folk style. Another song is Summer Rain, where Pete Sears played acoustic guitar with capo. It reminded me some classical rock ballads by Bob Dylan as it was sad and romantic at the same time. Additionally, I was greatly impressed how Sless played pedal steel guitar in the song City of New Orleans. The bridges between verses were exciting, and it sounded spectacular.

I liked Hesitation Blues least of all because Barry Sless replaced his solo with bass, while McNamee tried to play his own solo, which, I think, can be poorly compared with Sless’s one. Actually, all the magic disappeared from Moonalice playing after this substitution and the song sounded poorly.

Wonderful instrumental performance along with keyboard and guitar solos can impress even the most fastidious audience. However, powerful instrumental skills of the band members reveal the problem of the vocal weakness. Actually, Pete Sears does not seem to be a strong vocalist enough, although he is a very skilled keyboardist. Even in some rock and roll or country songs, where the vocal is not the most necessary part of the performance, his voice was getting close to recitative. Sometimes, his voice and manner of singing was a little bit similar to Mark Knophler’s. As for me, McNamee sang much better and his vocal sounded more distinct, while Sears’s voice was melting in the music. Generally, I think that Moonalice needs a strong blues or folk singer, and then they will be able to reach an incredible success.

All in all, I enjoyed the concert because I have heard the high-quality music and watched nice performance. Also, the sound was perfect, which is a rare thing at live performances. I was dissatisfied only with the fact that Barry Sless had to tune his guitar almost after each song instead of replacing it by another one that usually other guitarists do during live performances. However, when such situations were taking place, the frontman of the band entertained the public with different stories, and the delay was not appreciable. Additionally, Moonalice has nice tradition to hand around their posters after concerts, and I was glad to be among those lucky ones who has received their poster.

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