Having been forced to cancel last October’s gig following Sascha Ring’s motorcycle accident, Moderat finally return and this time they’ve been upgraded to Vicar Street. It’s a sell-out show and the venue is at full capacity, creating a sense of expectation as the crowd wait for the German synth wizards to take the stage. When they finally do appear the lights stay low as sustained organ chords begin to drift over the audience before being reinforced by the powerhouse synth pads of ‘This Time’, the closing track of their most recent album Moderat II. The chords really demand the audience’s attention, immediately showcasing the band’s ability to craft huge layered sounds made expressly for big sound systems.
They waste no time in dishing out the old favourites as the familiar pulse of ‘A New Error’ whips the crowd into motion. Pfadfinderei’s entrancing visuals also kick into effect at this point as a pair of giant hands is projected onto the set of screens directly behind the musicians, arranged in such a way as to create a false three-dimensional effect, allowing movement to be generated between the still images being used.
‘Rusty Nails’, ‘Bad Kingdom’ and ‘Damage Done’ provide sing along moments, with Ring’s soulful vocals lending an R&B element to the performance, which is warmly accepted by the crowd this Sunday night. Perhaps it’s the fact that the weekend is drawing to a close that the band seem to be holding back some of their more dance-oriented tracks as they start into another vocal track from Moderat II entitled ‘Last Time’.
The most energetic section of the night comes just before the encore with two of the heavier tracks from their first album, ‘Les Grand Marches’ and ‘Nr. 22’. The visuals at this point also reach a climax with mesmerising black and white illustrations giving way to scattered fragments gliding through a three dimensional space. It’s an impressive sight to behold when the main lights come up in the auditorium as 1500 fans cheer for Moderat to return. When they do, they opt for two more of the soulful, downtempo tracks from their second album, before going out on a high note with one of the best tracks from their latest release, ‘Therapy’. A fitting way to play out the night as Ring picks out the melody on his Nord Modular synth over the echoing vocal samples and melancholic chord progression. Ring’s impact on the group’s new material is undeniable and for fans of Moderat II this gig certainly won’t disappoint. It’s a far cry from some of the older material and perhaps doesn’t allow for the same sort of intensity in a live setting. Then again, if that’s the kind of thing you’re after you can always go catch a Modeselektor gig and enjoy the best of both worlds.