Sat near the corner of Parliament Street and a few doors down from larger-than-life extroverted neighbours Camp and Furnace, The Baltic Social is by comparison a relatively unassuming space for a gig. However, as locals and exponents of Liverpool culture will testify, the so-called ‘Baltic Triangle’ is full of surprises, and Baltic Social does more than live up to its name.
Woodland Social is becoming a mainstay night for fans of local music. Set up by some of the names behind Fiesta Bombarda and Everisland, the night consistently champions the best new music in the area; and tonight was no different. Opener(s) Seprona were represented in the form of lead singer Daniel Badger accompanied by his acoustic guitar. Stripped back versions of indie songs were given an interesting, almost folk, interpretation, which alongside Badger’s strong vocal regularly surprised and transcended genre boundaries into areas as far reaching as soul.
Aspen Home brought a considerably larger entourage, including keys, drums, guitars, bass and backing vocals. Unfortunately some quality was sacrificed in the name of quantity, and the various components of the band struggled for cohesion throughout the set – some often going completely unheard. A punchy blues intro and some undeniably uplifting songs quelled any notion that the set was close to substandard, though it must be said some tracks strayed a little too far into 90’s cheese.
A few more orders at the bar, and the tail end of some distinctly electronic sounding sound checks could only spell one thing; the start of headline act LUNA’s set. Otherworldly sampled vocals, electronic tapestry and LUNA’s soaring vocal cried out the eponymous opening lines “Way Beneath the Water” over a canvas of dimmed lights and hushed voices.
Despite her age, LUNA seems very much from the vintage side of the art-pop spectrum. Her music is seldom linear, shadowing the likes of Kate Bush and David Bowie in style and authenticity. Piano-heavy Blizzards gave ample platform for her vocal to dance and weave between the production and the audience, a feature that runs through so much of her music to great effect. In fact, a mash-up of James Blake and Massive Attack midway through the set neatly surmised the musical tastes of her potential future listenership. Although, from a couple in the corner I spotted mouthing the words to Denied, perhaps that potential is quickly being realised.
Seemingly at ease with being on stage, LUNA chatted with the audience regularly and made sure to thank her band who had performed so well throughout the night. In return the crowd were almost silent during the music, absorbed throughout the whole set. I say ‘almost silent’ – unfortunately a couple of people ahead of me, whom I unintentionally found out were also musicians, chatted loudly throughout one of the later tracks about how their new material was ‘a real journey of self discovery’.
While this revelation reeked of disingenuous pretension, it did offer a nice paradox to LUNA’s music that was at times candid before shifting to something all the more playful. Recent single release Run Run Run capped an enchanting set, affirming LUNA’s position as one of the cities most exciting up-and-coming female solo artists.