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benjaminchesworth
28th November 2022

Live review: Luna Li enchants audience at YES

Luna Li performs in Manchester for the first time, with a captivating concert at YES
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Live review: Luna Li enchants audience at YES
Photo: David Lee @ Wikimedia Commons

No place was better aesthetically suited than YES’s Pink room for Luna Li’s performance. It’s gorgeous, vibrant colours perfectly mirrored the captivating performance of Hannah Bussiere Kim (Luna Li) and her tour band, who managed to effortlessly capture the luscious blend of Kim’s music on Duality, that combines classical, indie, bedroom pop, and rock elements into a uniquely familiar style.

The concert’s opener, Nyah Grace, served up a wonderful dose of modern RnB and soul. Complete with virtuoso guitar lines, heavenly piano playing, and a drummer and bassist so in sync with one another, that you’d struggle to convince me they weren’t long lost brothers, the band put on a brilliant show.

The baton was then passed onto Luna Li and company, opening with the sweet, danceable ‘Alone But Not Lonely’, a title that perfectly encapsulates one of lockdown’s rising stars. She achieved virality from her minute-long vignettes on social media, that instantly displayed the incredible amount of talent and personality behind her music: from the classical inspirations in her violin, harp, and piano playing, to the galvanising electric guitar solos in her rockier influences. After a few songs from Duality, the band went into a quick-fire of these vignettes from the Jams EP that were an excellent warm up into the emotionally potent latter half of the concert.

The band created a versatile soundscape, with each member holding their own. Both Charise Aragoza on synth, and Hallie Switzer on bass doubled as a stunning backing vocal duo that filled YES’s Pink Room. The former also swapped briefly onto guitar for a few cuts, displaying the her multi-instrumental talent.

The band was rounded off by Braden Sauder, providing larger than life drumming that brought harder cuts like ‘Star Stuff’ to new heights in a live setting. Whilst unfortunately the harp couldn’t make it to the performance, Luna Li’s guitar, piano and violin playing were a delight, with her resonant, distinct voice cutting through the dense soundscape.

A personal highlight on Duality, ‘Silver into Rain’ continued the momentum of the concert, with its ethereal guitar intro slowly evolving into the glorious blend of vocal harmonies and distorted guitar that was nothing short of triumphant. This was combined with lyrics grounded within nature and power within oneself, specifically from the female perspective. The first half finished with ‘Trying’, Kim’s first breakout single, complete with a weeping cacophony of strings that die out into a peaceful, 8-bit like version of the song.

This underscored one of the most seamless costume transitions I have seen live, into a signature long sleeved top, tied together to create butterfly-shaped holes – an aperture into the magical and personal world of her music. No moment in the show was more reflective of this than in the album closer, ‘Lonely/Lovely’, as Li asks the audience for a moment of meditation, slowly looping her violin into an entire orchestra. Whilst virtually lyric-less, this was a palpable demonstration of the emotion in her instrumental writing.

The show ended with ‘Cherry Pit’, another favourite of mine, and the first track of Duality, which opens with walls of drums, guitars and synths, to abruptly turn into a soothing, indie-pop cut, that slowly ramps back up into insanity, an energy that was perfect to finish the night on, and most certainly the most head-banging I saw. No encore was required – the audience knew that the night couldn’t have ended in a better spectacle.

Luna Li has previously opened for some of the largest growing acts like Japanese Breakfast, but there was something so wonderful about being able to watch her perform her music with some of her closest friends. Bassist Hallie Switzer even designs all of the fantastic merch. I can’t recommend Kim’s music enough; it’s both very accessible yet has a real musical and lyrical depth, and so much life was breathed into it in the Pink Room.

 

You can visit Luna Li’s official website for the latest updates here.

Duality was released March 4, 2022, which you can stream here:


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