Ian Moore, You Should Know His Name
By Cory Weaver
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Performing for 25 years. Recording 14 albums. Making it on Letterman (and falling victim to Paul Shaffer’s “showbiz smile”). Getting an 8:30 a.m. wake-up call from Ice Cube telling you he wants to shoot a video for a song from your very first album. Yep, Ian Moore has pretty much done it all.
Before telling you about how incredible his show was at the Monocle in St. Louis last Wednesday night, let’s just get one thing out of the way—the dual reactions I had when I heard Ian Moore was coming to town:
At first I thought, “How in the hell is Ian Moore playing the Monocle?!” I took it as a negative. But then I thought, “Wait, I get to see Ian Moore at the Monocle!” Which was a 180 from my initial reaction.
The Monocle, located in the Grove neighborhood, has a capacity of a little over 100, so to say it’s intimate is an understatement. This was my second time seeing a band perform there, and both were very well attended. Unlike the last show (The Life and Times in January), the Monocle staff set up cocktail tables in a sort of cabaret style for the show.
I didn’t mind the cabaret/dinner theater-style seating; I was just thankful that the waitresses weren’t coming around taking drink orders, which I think would have disrupted the performance. The Ian Moore experience is a quintessential Rock, Blues and Soul experience, and sitting there taking it all in is recommended.
In fact, for me, seeing Ian Moore is somewhat of a spiritual experience. His guitar prowess is second to none. He sounds like a classically trained vocalist, ranging from baritone to falsetto. And in the day of 10-to-12 song, 60-minute sets, Ian played for two hours. His 15 songs satisfied those in attendance, and he’s a great raconteur—he peppered the set with interesting stories about his music and life that most of us had never heard.
He took the stage with a playful smile that seemed to say, “I’m gonna blow the roof off of this place.” And he did exactly that. He opened with the title track from his 2017 record, “Strange Days,” one of two tunes he played from that album; the other being “Saturday Night.”
The evening continued as Ian weaved his way through a musical time warp: “Nothing” and “How Does It Feel” from his self-titled debut album Ian Moore, and “Muddy Jesus” and “Today” off of his second record Modern Day Folklore.
The set was split in two between old tunes and new tracks. He played “You Gotta Know (My Name)” and “Lords of the Levee” off of his new EP, Toronto. “You Gotta Know” is about as poppy as Ian Moore gets, but it has a touch of angsty punk flowing through it. It’s an anthem ridiculing rich, entitled hipster kids who, as he’s said, “Get their marching orders from Pitchfork and fill their brains with coke and MDMA, looking for soul and depth.”
He ended the set on a guitar-shredding rampage with a mix of covers and old originals that included, “Champagne and Reefer” by Muddy Waters; “Me and My Guitar” by Freddie King; and “Satisfied,” “Harlem” and “Blue Sky,” all from his debut album. The covers were spot on, with a bit of Ian Moore inflections.
The entire set from top to bottom was incredible and meant to please his fans—even though he was on tour in support of his new EP. If there were one thing I could change, it’d be the attendance. Not that Ian “deserves” a larger crowd (well, he does), but rather, in a day of three-chord guitar riffs, back-track samples and synth, it’s important to pay homage to actual guitar playing, soul searching and self-aware songwriting, minus the cliché lyrics.
And if there were one thing I could add to the show, it would have been a few tunes off of his 2000 release, …and All of the Colors. It was the album that broke the mold others put Moore in—wanting him to be the heir apparent to Stevie Ray Vaughn, which are rather large shoes to fill and at the same time, confining. Colors catapulted Moore into a new era, a new millennium so to speak. He put out what would become his signature sound: melodic, sexy, soul and bluesy, gospel-heavy, all the while maintaining the infectious guitar vibrato he’s become known for.
There are no plans for Moore to be back in St. Louis anytime soon, but he will be in Springfield, Ill., on June 12th at Bar None. He’s worth the drive