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Kelly Moran, Hallé St. Peters. 23rd April 2024

It’s a cathartic experience as I walk into the magnificent Hallé St. Peters tonight. Five years ago I had a ticket to see Kelly Moran at Band on the Wall, but I never made it due to crashing my car. So as I enter this former church and rehearsal space for the Hallé Orchestra, it’s with a sense of relief that I’m in one piece. The last time I was here was to watch Cherry Ghost perform a striped back set accompanied by a harpist. That was spellbinding and tonight’s performance will be the same. Now I say church, but tonight’s performance is in a very modern addition. I’ll not lie, I was looking forward to high ceilings and pews, but when I said magnificent at the start, I wasn’t lying. This place is beautiful as are the acoustics. It’s suits Kelly Moran perfectly as her music moves through a world of beautiful piano introspection. Intricate melodies interweave through the space and permeate your soul. It’s an intimate room, chairs neatly laid out for a very civilised audience, with an air about them that they all play themselves. There’s a chap at the end of my row caressing a glass of red wine. A messy gig it is not. More a recital. After we’ve all been encouraged to the left hand side of the room by Kelly so you can see the piano keys “because that’s where all the action is”, she begins and instantly the room levitates. Much of the set is made up of the new record Moves in the Field and sees her playing solo, but alongside a recorded track or sorts, of her playing the other parts. I say of sorts, it’s not merely a backing track, but a Disklavier, a piano that you record into and plays back, complete with the keys moving like magic. This is shown on a massive projection above Kelly’s piano and makes for quite an arresting visual. Arresting is a good word for songs like the title track from the album. It sounds like Mogwai without the guitars. She may look delicate, but make no mistake, Moran can pack a punch. There’s a real breadth to the sound though. Particularly on songs where she’s largely on her own. There’s something about the piano that’s just magical, whether the keys are moving by themselves or not. It’s an odd sensation to be in the room with. I find myself both transfixed and untethered. It’s completely disarming. I’ve been to a lot of great gigs, but this is genuinely a new experience. I think Moran must feel this every night. She plays like the music is channelling through her rather than originating there. Watching someone sat at a piano for an hour I suspect in some cases could be a little dry, but not with Moran tonight, she’s fluid and flawless. Finishing with a few of pieces by Ryuichi Sakamoto, there’s a melancholic air as we leave. An interesting way to close a set, but Moran really does give you a bit of everything and I’m moved effortlessly to the merch table to pick up the new record. She’s as lovely to talk to as you’d hope after such an experience. I didn’t crash my car tonight, but I’m left dazed in the best possible way.


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