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Moon Safari / HeKz http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/de/12/44/moon-safari-2013-live-review-rocktopia-thumb-95-1389806324.jpg Hot

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Moon Safari / HeKz - Classic Rock Society, Malby (UK) - 14th September 2013

I was one of three Fireworks contributors in attendance at this gig and it says much about the quality of the headliners that we unanimously agreed that across our vast collective concert-going experience this show was up there in our 'Best Ever' category; yes, they really were that good.

The evening was opened by HeKz, a remarkably young (23-27) but incredibly talented and impressive group of lads who proved to be extremely accomplished and fine exponents of their instruments. Their style sits in the Prog Metal genre with a bit of Hard Rock in the mix. The twin guitars were particularly effective and their dexterity belies their tender years. They're a very promising outfit with plenty going for them and are far superior to a number of support bands I've seen recently. Vocalist and bassist, Matt Young, sounds as if he's had formal training at a Stage School, as such his voice doesn't always fit the Rock style, but I get the feeling that will come.

Moon Safari were utterly superb from first note to last and I can't believe that anyone would have left the venue thinking anything other than they'd just witnessed a very special event. I have no idea how old these guys are but they still look too young to be producing music of such outstanding quality, beauty and with consummate skill. Renowned for their vocal prowess on record, it was soon clear that they can reproduce these live too (no samples or triggered backing tapes for these guys); trust me, it was remarkable to witness. Five and even six part harmonies were the order of the evening and all executed perfectly, even when the venue was plunged into total darkness, twice, they didn't miss a beat or a note. Many readers of this magazine will dismiss Moon Safari because of their Prog credentials, but let me tell you they exude more melody than any AOR band you care to mention. I don't mind admitting that I stood in awe throughout the two hour set with a permanent grin on my face. It was a joyous affair and everyone was having fun. The band talked with the audience making a number of self-deprecating jokes, much to our amusement.

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As for the songs, well to my mind aside from playing their entire catalogue of songs they couldn't have chosen a better set. Their brilliant new album ('Himlabacken Vol. 1') was well represented, but the choice of numbers from their earlier releases were perfectly selected to give a stunning insight into the band's capabilities. I would go as far as to say this was a flawless performance. I like a band that makes an effort to start a gig properly and not just wander on stage; Moon Safari's introduction ticked that box. They emerged to the strains of the short first track off the new album ('Kids'), which is a wonderful in itself, but as that ends the band burst seamlessly into the next track, the exquisite 'Too Young to Say Goodbye'. Unlike me many in the audience had yet to hear these songs as the CD had thus far only been available at gigs, but the rapturous applause that followed the song's completion suggested that despite a lack of familiarity everyone had been wowed by what they'd heard. 'Heartland' showed off both their soft and heavy sides while 'Barfly' upped the power before the wonderful 'Mega Moon' mixed supreme melody with Dream Theater moments. After a delicious rendition of 'New York City Summer Girl' the band deserved a breather from the multiple vocals and played the delightful instrumental 'Moonwalk', which like any good song was chock full of melody.

'Red White Blues' was delivered brilliantly as was the lengthy 'A Kid Called Panic'. The encore was a somewhat contrived affair, but I liked the banter that followed 'Crossed the Rubicon' that the next song, 'Lover's End Pt. III: Skellefteå Serenade' is longer than a Beatles album. That closed the show in stunning fashion, or had it? No, all the band's six members gathered centre stage to deliver a tingle-inducing A cappella 'Constant Bloom'; a perfect full stop to a quite sensational show.

This was my long-awaited first sight of Moon Safari live and they lived up to every expectation, in fact make that they exceeded my expectations. Fantastic! I hope they tour the UK again, soon.

Gary Marshall

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