Over the course of several weeks, Montreal based indie-rock band Half Moon Run released live stream performances via social media to advertise new music. But HMR wanted to do a bit more for their fans and soon after announced an intimate, secret show at Toronto’s Great Hall.
The show itself would not be structured like a traditional HMR gig, but instead offered a select group of fans who requested tickets to see firsthand new material. Even the show’s opener took an unconventional route, with a routine from comedian James Raymond Brown – who nonetheless left the audience floored with his witty punchlines.
Once HMR took the stage, opening with ‘She Wants to Know’ from HMR’s 2012 debut album ‘Dark Eyes,’ the energy in the room reached new heights. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for HMR to perform their new music – giving what the audience had come for early on. In fact, the near hour and half set list comprised of a balance between their two previously released albums, including 2015’s ‘The Sun That Leads On’, with an array of new songs.
Lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Devon Portielje was captivating – commanding the stage with his hypnotic movements and fluid hand gestures as if he were conducting an orchestra. But Portielje was far from being the only multi-faceted talent on stage. The collective group of HMR, which consisted of Conner Molander, Dylan Phillips, and Isaac Symmonds, seemingly moved between multiple instruments – with an emphasis placed on percussion throughout much of their performance.
The many intricate pieces that went into songs like ‘Drug You’ and ‘Turn Your Love,’ were woven together by layers of instrumentals in brilliant fashion. This only benefited Portielje, whose vocal chops were on full display, with his fellow band-mates providing crisp vocal harmonies that could be felt throughout The Hall.
And with a plethora of new tunes, HMR seemed to have expanded on their two albums with material that shared a similar tone. However, nothing is set in stone with the songs performed. What was heard live might not sound anything like the final cut. Still, HMR received positive feedback from the audience and it was rightly deserved.
Finishing their set with ‘Call Me in the Afternoon,’ HMR went right back at it with not one, but two encore performances that included crowd favourites ‘Full Circle,’ ‘Give Up,’ and ‘Fire Escape.’ And as the night came to an end, HMR received a thunderous round of applause.
There is currently no release date set for HMR’s new material. Then again, fans were left with a lot to look forward to.