The First Time: Emily Dongray – Moby, The Astoria, London, 2002

Unlike my older comrades, I sadly can’t brag about having been to Woodstock or following Bob Dylan around New York in the 60s. The truth is I was late to the party. I was in my 20s before I bought a beer in a plastic cup and pressed leather-clad shoulder with sweating strangers and started the damage to my ears. But I have made up for it. As a DJ, promoter, radio presenter, music journalist, reviewer, band manager, record shop slave, singer, and occasional guitar player, I have been to a few gigs. Honestly, I had to wrack my brain to work out which was the first and follow several misremembered leads before settling on this one.

Moby. Why Moby? My friend (who I later married) bought tickets for a group of us while at university in London, and off I went. Recalling the gig this morning, I remembered it as the biggest venue in the world and figured it must’ve been Wembley or the like. Nope. I was just very small, and I had the widest eyes. Our group had seated tickets up on the balcony, which, in fact, meant standing in front of your seat to dance awkwardly in place. I recall my cynicism when Moby came out on stage and pressed a single long note on the keyboard, and the crowd went wild. I had no expectations, but he was going to have to work a little harder for my applause.

Moby, despite being a dance music producer, is known for taking country, folk, gospel and acoustic samples and giving them new life. Especially on the album ‘Play‘. The videos below contain samples of Georgian gospel legend Bessie Jones and The Banks Brothers. I enjoyed Moby along with a lot of dance, rave, trip-hop, and electro, and when I segued into more acoustic things, there was much overlap. I would later be a resident DJ in the building opposite The Astoria, where I played fusion music. The venue was a bastion of the music scene and home to the famous G-A-Y night. The Astoria was torn down in 2009 to make way for London’s Crossrail, and although transport links have improved, it is a shame that the iconic building and musical refuge were lost.

There is nothing pounding about his style of electro; much of it is ambient and relaxing while providing soulful and intelligent melodies and samples. If you want something digital that includes the odd bit of folk and gospel, give Moby a whirl. There is a new album ‘Resound NYC,‘ out on May 12th, featuring Gregory Porter and Lady Blackbird, available for pre-order now via your local record shop or the artist’s website.

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