Morpheus Rising chose Bilston Robin 2 as the location for the launch of their second album, both as an excellent rock venue with great acoustics, and as a central location that’s accessible for fans across the country. Not only that, the show also marked the live début of Luna Rossa, Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards’ acoustic Panic Room side project.
Luna Rossa played a beautiful set, drawn almost entirely from “Sleeping Pills and Lullabies”. Shorn of the strings and additional instrumentaion of the album, the stripped-down sound of just voice, piano and guitar emphasised the strength of the songs. Jon Edwards’ expressive piano and Anne-Marie’s equally expressive voice make a perfect combination in a live setting, and songs like “Heart On My Sleeve” came over especially well. The one all-new song was an atmospheric piece featured electric piano and some of Anne-Marie’s flute, and offered an intriguing taster for the next Luna Rossa album. They closed with the multi-layered “Gasp”, the one time they resorted to backing tracks for a song that wouldn’t work without the strings and looped backing vocals.
Then it was time for the twin guitar classic hard rock of Morpheus Rising. Their shows supporting Panic Room last hear had previewed quite a few of the new songs, one of two of which even became live favourites. But for the launch show the band played the whole album including the two download-only bonus tracks. The whole thing came over very powerfully live, so much so that it’s hard to pick a single highlight, though “Bending Light” with Pete Harwood’s e-bow solo came over especially strongly. With new drummer Nigel Durham they’ve gone up another gear as a live band.
They had intended to continue with the highlights of their first album, but unfortunately a poorly drummer forced them to curtail their set, making for a slightly confusing ending. They did come back for one more number, a rousing rendition of “Lords of the North”. But the slightly premature end failed to take the edge off a fantastic night. On paper, the two very different acts sharing a bill ought never to have worked. But the combination of delicate acoustic beauty with full-on rock and roll ended up complimenting each other extremely well, and the whole thing made for a remarkable evening.