Montreal’s Half Moon Run enthralled fans with their exquisite indie rock Friday at Portland’s Wonder Ballroom. The fiercely talented foursome were here to promote their new “A Blemish in the Great Light“ release, and to kick off a winter tour.

The band’s unique music has been described by The Guardian as “well-crafted indie-rock, somewhere between My Morning Jacket’s shimmering alt-Americana, and Coldplay’s melodic bombast.”

Playing from a setlist spanning all three studio albums while emphasizing many brand new tracks, the band’s gig was a potent one.

Sharing center stage were frontmen Devon Portielje and Conner Molander. Both easily kept the venue spellbound via their accomplished, multi-instrumental showmanship.

Devon Portielje (L), Conner Molander (R).

Performing for a modest-sized but enthusiastic crowd, the band first warmed things up with a riveting performance of atmospheric “21 Gun Salute” from their “Dark Eyes” debut. They kept things impeccably paced, each track energizing showgoers and building momentum.

Fans lean in for highlights

Many times it’s the audience as much as the performer who help determine a good concert experience.

Fortunately, Friday’s crowd was on-point with the music. So much so, it’s nigh impossible to say where the peaks were. Many would agree that “Sun Leads Me On” and “Turn Your Love” – both from 2015’s “Sun Leads Me On” – were right up there.

From their “Dark Eyes” album came compelling “She Wants to Know” and sunny “Call Me in the Afternoon,” both exceptional standouts.

Additional showstoppers? Three tracks off the new release: “Then Again,” “Razorblade” and “Flesh and Blood – with one fan humorously calling “play it again!” following the latter.

About Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run’s “Dark Eyes” debut went platinum in Canada, while their second “Sun Leads Me On” release earned them a Juno nomination.

The band is popular for their heavy use of percussion, melodic group harmonies, and for playing multiple instruments during live performances. They sell out hefty-sized venues in Canada in mere minutes.

It’s a mystery, then, why in the U.S. they have yet to make their breakthrough. Worth mentioning: Friday’s crowd had clearly memorized many song lyrics from the new album – a sign their fan base continues to grow in Portland.

Half Moon Run are: Devon Portielje, vocals, guitar, percussion; Conner Molander, vocals, guitar, keyboard; Dylan Phillips, vocals, drums, keyboard; and Isaac Symonds on vocals, percussion, mandolin, keyboards and guitar.

Above: An endearing moment for fans was the foursome singing four-part harmony on “Sun Leads Me On” into one microphone.

Curtain call

Near-bedlam ensued for the show’s encore. Of course, the band returned to play several more, including their lighthearted “Jello” from the new album.

Music…and love

What is it that sets this band apart?

In addition to musical talent and superb song arrangements, it comes down to sincerity and heart.

In an interview with a blogger five years ago, Portielje was quoted as saying:  Humans need love…they need connection, they need attention. And if you are able to communicate your feelings accurately and articulately with somebody you don’t know – they will feel a connection to you. And they will feel gratification and love, and you’ll feel love giving it to them. That is the truest experience of music.”

Taylor Janzen

Opening for Half Moon Run was immensely impressive Taylor Janzen from Manitoba, who was also warmly received. 

Her superlative vocals, natural stage presence and solid setlist were a delight.

Listen for her music on PRP.


That’s a wrap

You can find music by Half Moon Run on their website, or check for upcoming tour dates here (April shows in Montreal are already sold out).

Enjoy this musical morsel from Friday’s show!

Favourite Boy


Cynthia Orlando
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