Gig review

VanIves / Liela Moss

Tonight gave us a first look at the solo project from the Duke Spirit’s front woman Liela Moss.

Compared to her other band she isn’t making radically different music – it’s maybe more dreamy and introspective than the guitar-driven indie pop that the Duke Spirit usually provide.

However, there’s nothing introspective about how these ten songs were performed… interestingly, not all the same songs that are on her album ‘My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth’.

You can tell someone who has paid their dues and learned their way around a stage.
Complete with multi-instrumental backing band they switch around on each song – sometimes mid -song.

It’s unusual that the support band on the night ends up playing for longer than the main attraction but that’s the case tonight.

But what Van Ives lacked in quantity they more than made up for in quality.

VanIves, for those not familiar, are Stuart Ramage on guitars & vocals and Roan Ballantine on keyboards, beats and sequencers.

With a lot of soul and R&B influences in the vocals and a lot of EDM, soundscapes & full-on indie pop, they are a musical breath of fresh air.

And finally I get to see a new band who understands that they’re there to put on a show and not just belt out a few tunes at ear-splitting decibels.

The stage set up had live drums and violin performing with the duo while above the stage there were visuals being projected and each of the four members on the stage had a foot light.
At the times when they move around the stage or the room the spotlights followed.

And am I ruining the surprise by telling you this?
Ah, to hell with it. I cannot tell the story without ruining this.

When the band played their last song and came back on for an encore they didn’t go to the stage, but instead to a mysterious object in the middle of the room covered by a sheet.

Stuart told us that when they first moved to Glasgow they found someone offering an old piano that was free to a good home.

And there it was – being put to good use.

Stuart climbed on top and sang without amplification, Roan sat down and played it.
This ended in them setting off confetti bombs while others went off in the room too.

Then the lights on the stage went back on and the band started playing again and they seamlessly transitioned back into the show.

This gig was crafted with so much care and attention – an absolute highlight of Celtic Connections 2019 for me.