In the club: Wailing with Moby in Aspen
July 3, 2012
ASPEN – Have you ever noticed that when people speak of Moby, they inevitably talk about how smart he is, with barely a mention of his music?
Attending Moby’s appearance at Belly Up Aspen on Friday night, I listened to the music – an acoustic set of songs, followed by a rave with Moby as DJ – and contemplated just how smart this supposed descendant of Herman Melville is.
• Smart: telling the audience early on that talking would not be tolerated. Moby was making his Aspen debut, but he clearly had foreknowledge of the local penchant for treating live music as background for personal chit-chat. More debatable was the wisdom of continuing to berate the audience for talking, which alienated some so-called listeners.
• Really smart: having Mindy Jones at his side. Besides being a superb singer, Jones had a light personality that worked as a needed counterweight to Moby’s seriousness.
• Of questionable intelligence: Moby’s comment that when you perform cover tunes, they should be tunes that everyone knows and can sing along with, or why play cover tunes at all? I can think of several other reasons for playing cover tunes, including the best reason of all: because someone wrote a song so damn good, it screams to you to play it. Moby stuck to his guns; his list of covers comprised “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Ring of Fire,” “Walk on the Wild Side,” “Helpless” and “Whole Lotta Love.”
• Smart: Rounding out the performances with anecdotes and observations because Moby really is an interesting dude with an affected quasi-accent and clearly a lot going on upstairs. He explained that he was playing the version of “Whole Lotta Love” as written by Willie Dixon, not as interpreted by Led Zeppelin, and offered the opinion that “I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday,” from Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” was the most romantic phrase in rock music. Which it might be.
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He also told of making out with the real-life Holly, the transsexual immortalized in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” Moby was introduced to Holly in an L.A. club and figured the only thing to do was to start kissing her. “Because, why not?” he said. Wise, indeed.
• Out-and-out dumb: Missing Moby’s pre-concert talk, focused on L.A. architecture and other matters, as part of the Aspen Ideas Festival. (This was my dumb, not his. But hey, people aren’t constantly talking about how smart I am. Are they?)