3 is the magic number – Moderat at the Albert Hall, Manchester
Sascha Ring’s motorcycle incident last September brought the tour, only a month into action, to a screeching halt. Now Ring, better known as Apparat, and Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary have returned more triumphantly cinematic than ever and to a standard far larger than their main monikers. Still, remnants of Apparat’s dream-state melodies and Modeselektor’s iron basslines are present. You may love Moderat and you may have an amazing stereo at home through which you share my affinity, but you will never know the extent of that love until you’ve experienced it live through every sense. The impeccable timing along with clean, elaborate visuals and the venue itself (with its ornate decor and stained glass windows), was a journey to be remembered for years. I felt I was a part of it all, like I was inside the music, just stood atop the upper tier (best spot in the house à mon avis), looking down on them in admiration. Thankfully, the crowd wasn’t your normal scruffy students, tripping over themselves in WHP. No, there was this scent of mature adulation and respect in the air.
Anstam’s set was a gospel of machinery and I almost enjoyed it if it weren’t for the dreadlocked cybergoth in front, going all too wild for it, whipping those dreads over the banister. He needed to leave the vicinity before I could focus again. Illum Sphere followed Moderat’s set, but unfortunately didn’t hold the same water that the headliners had stirred up. Although no one could’ve bookended that act properly, there could’ve been some visual aspect for him, rather than a mute spotlight and playing space on the first floor balcony to the left of the stage.
Moderat boarded the stage to a monumental applause. Their visual component, ingeniously crafted by Pfadfinderei, was an arrangement of four translucent walls in an ‘X’ – the larger angles facing the crowd and rear of the stage. Whiter than white images danced and flickered across their four-plane playground, consistently improving upon themselves. What began as a white column of light in the centre steadily began to smoke – the smoke was so subtle it seemed it wasn’t really there. Then the image was well and truly ablaze. An ‘M’, an ‘O’, then a ‘D-E-R-A-T’ threw themselves on top of each and fell back through the stage. The first track, one most familiar, was also the first track of their debut, self-titled album. A pair of god-sized hands conducted A New Error, furthering it along as the intensity of sound pulled up from under itself, crashing down on an already astonished crowd. Instantly clear, this would be a show to remember forever. Also from the same album, the towering Seamonkey shocked the heart into a crazed trance as hypnotising gears galloped to a war-like drum rhythm. Rusty Nails cloaked the crowd in dream as ominous as it was inviting. From II, Bad Kingdom by far evoked the largest reaction the night had seen yet. As one of the biggest tunes of 2013, Apparat’s vocals rose above the riotous commotion. Pfadfinderei’s comic illustrations of mad scientists flashed overhead.
Yet, the most emotional rendition remained Last Time. Appearing simultaneously on the screen above, Apparat’s poignant lyrics assumedly spoke of the Berlin Wall: ‘When I was dead asleep/Behind/Towering Walls/They built a world outside/And I/Missed the wake-up call’. The performance stays in my mind as more than a gig, more than theatrics – rather, a trip to another place in my mind, to a subconscious understanding of the beauty of experiencing music. Excuse that for sounding immensely airy-fairy, but I mean it. Absolute joy, thinking back on it. One time is not enough.