Tonight’s concert at New York City’s Town Hall is Morcheeba’s only current US public appearance. Needless to say, we’re well excited. The lights go down and they take theatrically to the stage of the old-style theatre, breaking into the sultry groove of ‘Friction’. The trio behind the band, vocalist Skye Edwards and Godfrey brothers Paul and Ross, are fleshed out to an eight-strong band for tonight’s show, a cast of characters that DJ Paul explains is “here to make love to you for the next hour-and-a-half”. Perfect.
When venue staff ask one dancing audience member to sit down, Skye responds by shouting, “No! Tell them to stand up!” Within seconds, everyone is on their feet. It’s a polite crowd here this evening, you see. They were just waiting for an invitation. Guitarist Ross wails out with the wah-wah on early favourite ‘Tape Loop’, following which Skye nods in approval at the dancing crowd, before issuing a light-hearted Eminem reference, cooing, “Please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.”
Edwards seems to have been born for the stage. Her movements are slow and graceful, carefully calculated, yet completely fluid. “Are you going to sing along then?” she asks the crowd with a grin, before the band launches into ‘Part Of The Process’. Steve Bentley-Klein, frequent Morcheeba collaborator, stands towards the back of the stage, dressed conspicuously in a brightly-patterned shirt and sunglasses. He has been alternating between playing the trumpet and the violin, adding a brilliantly lively element to the songs with each. During ‘…Process’, it’s the violin that leaps to the fore, accompanied by the wonderfully twangy slide guitar-work from Ross and Skye’s sultry vocals, for a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, bluesy romp.
And this is all just the beginning. Still to come is the disco-blast of ‘Love Sweet Love’, which sees more amazing guitar work, with Skye taking on the rap performed by Mr. Complex on the album version. It highlights one of the night’s many pleasant surprises: much of the newer material comes across much stronger live than it does on CD. Singles ‘Blindfold’ and ‘Moog Island’ draw huge bursts of applause from the crowd, the latter prompting Skye to thank all the fans that have been with the band since the start. “You were there,” she says, pointing into the audience. “You were there and you were there.” “I was there before the first album,” exclaims Paul. “How cool does that make me?”
Regardless of how you answer that, however, tonight Paul is providing comic relief. He does more intentionally silly dancing and posing behind his decks than scratching and spinning, coming off remarkably like a ‘Young Ones’-era Alexei Sayle – and we’re all the better for it. They close out magnificently, with a beautifully extended cover of Donovan’s classic ‘Season Of The Witch’, during which a spotlight is cast on every one of the eight performers and musicians on stage. “I like it, I like it,” they chant, before each one gets their chance to show off.
We all like it, for that matter. We love it.