Gilli Moon Show Review (September 2002 issue)

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Jughead checks out Gilli Moon’s debut show at Club Galia in San Francisco.

Gilli Moon played in the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time July 20. As the opener at Club Galia (also on July 21 and 30), she played mostly in front of the other bands scheduled to appear that night. Club Galia is a relatively new club and so far has few regulars.

Moon (normally playing as part of a six-piece) was alone on this debut tour, and it was just her and her keyboard. Now before you go making those Tori Amos analogies, please understand the difference between the artists. Amos’ neuroticities are what make her stand out. Not to take away from her skill set, but she would seem a lot more ordinary if she were not so wacked out. The woman is crazy.

Level of composure is what sets Moon apart. Raised in Australia, but now living in Los Angeles, she is a tremendous singer with good-enough keyboard skills to perform solo. While her five bandmates were not there, she was able to symbolize their existence by putting Beanie Babie-like creatures on her monitor for us. At one point during her set, she introduced them. Two songs later, while doing a drum solo a cappella, the “drummer” fell off. After the song was over, she got up, moved “Hawk” (yes, they all had names) back next to the “guitarist,” and went back to performing for the humans in the building.

Leading off her nine-song set with “Tiny Diamonds,” Moon captivated me. With a voice so strong, it was easy to be swept up in her vocal pleasantries. Every song in the set was great. Her style forced you to think she was singing just to you. Admittedly, with the crowd so sparse, that wasn’t far from the truth, but her stage presence indicated to me she could do that in a room of thousands.

Moon also sang the title tracks of her albums, “Temperamental Angel” and “Woman,” which she just picked up at the beginning of the tour. “Hot off the presses,” as she put it. “Woman” required audience participation. With a mostly female lineup that night at Club Galia, about 75% of the audience were women as well. This made interaction with the song that much easier, as they were asked to sing back “Woman” at the appropriate times. Moon was quite the conductor, getting these women to sing on cue (and on key).

So if she is so good solo, then why have a band? Because she gets even better. One of her bandmates normally plays the keyboard, and this frees her hands to… paint. Yes, that’s right. She paints on a glass “canvas” during her performances, which she promptly washes off afterward. This sort of depressed me upon hearing it. However, she sometimes uses a real canvas if, for example, the venue can auction it off for charity.

Such gimmicks are normally reserved for someone who needs to cover up mediocre talent, but that’s not the case here. Some people really know how to focus on their strengths. A published writer, she says in her book, “I Am a Professional Artist,” that if you spend all your time working on your weaknesses, you will never be able to develop your strengths. I can see her point. Everybody has weaknesses. I have no idea what hers are, and I likely will never find out. She knows what she does well, and she blindsides you with it. Fine with me.

As cliche as it sounds, Moon is wise beyond her years. The thing is, all those cliches are true for once. Her book explains the professional side and the fun side of prioritizing your time and getting the most out of being an artist. Moon takes what should be, but normally isn’t, common sense and explains it in an efficient manner. It would be too patronizing to call her book “Artistry for Dummies,” as even the best artists stand to benefit from reading this book. But she is more than an author, as well.

She runs a record label, Warrior Girl Music, which “Woman” and “Temperamental Angel” were released on. She has a Finnish artist signed and is working on signing others. How does she manage all this and still find time to tour, yet be one of the friendliest and most selfless people I have ever met? Read her book. We all can be more efficient, but the things she has figured out will improve anyone who takes the time to read it.

Moon will play to larger and larger crowds, as the word gets out as to how talented she is. Get in on the ground floor. Check out her Web sites. See her live if she’s in your neck of the woods. You won’t regret it.


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