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Nuha Ruby Ra @ The Moth Club, London (Live review)

  • Written by  Captain Stavros

Nuha Ruby Ra

@ The Moth Club

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros


The horseshoe-shaped booth at the foot of the stage at the Moth, our go-to clubhouse for one, is occupied by a group of human fossils this time around. These lot have been around long enough to know a good spot when they see it, and luckily for us, they are as friendly as they are savvy, letting us rest our weary bones for we’ll need all our strength during Nuha Ruby Ra’s set tonight. We first spot Nuha on the frontlines in the audience beckoning the crowd forward during the support acts (End of Europe/Miss Tiny), closing the gap and blurring the boundaries between performers and spectators. The theme on stage this evening is gothic birthday party (curly ribbons and black/red balloon bouquets) celebrating Ruby’s day and tour.

Sets run late but eventually the Ra and what looks like a gang of extras from the set of The Warriors start setting up their kit. An oblong copper ring suspended on a stand above a box with a cowbell inside of it looks like The Eye of Sauron; grabbing our attention, and holding it. Imagine a love child between a theremin, a belt buckle and a birdhouse. An LED flood strobes and bathes the entire stage in lightning blue whilst a mesh-clad, beret-wearing saxophonist empties their spit valve as they float through scales, is this a band warm up or an ‘80s softcore sex scene? Answers are no clearer when Nuha comes out during sound check clutching a bugle and rocking Morpheus’ sunglasses. It appears the band is having issues sound-checking her twin mics. Naturally, only she can decipher how to turn on her mics and her audience alike.

Where have this lot come from? Not much info there pre-2023, seemingly they’ve materialized out of thin air. Going into a gig space blank is our forte, mostly, we want to remain impartial. Making all the connections and digging in deeper is strictly a post-show MO for us. Watching Ruby on stage with her six bandmates reminded us of the time we caught up with Black Country, New Road (RIP kinda) about 5 years ago, only to find during our deep dive that none other than Andy Savours in fact produced their new single ‘Fetish 2 Forget’. Both were/are sleepers but quickly gained traction and notoriety. If living bare chested legend Iggy Pop (BBC 6) and Goat Girl are longtime fans we’re certainly here for it.

Having played a plethora of prestigious festivals both on home turf and abroad including Glastonbury,SXSW, The Great Escape, Green Man, Wide Awake, Manchester Psych Fest, Levitation (FR), Grauzone (NL) and several more, as well as having previously supported Self Esteem, Yard Act, Warmduscher, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Viagra Boys. Following a string of mini releases, two EPs and a few singles, both momentum and pressure are building in equal measures for this much hyped artist.

Back on stage, the set opens with noise track, ‘Cure For Tired Business Men’, followed by ‘Sparky’ where the sax goes to work. “Experiment, experiment with each other” allocates Nuha into dual mics; the experiment from where we’re sitting is certainly producing favourable results of which honky-tonk samples and hushed and luscious saxy tones top the list. Outside of ourselves (strictly business kids) no one is on their phone, which is saying a lot. The audience is fully engaged in this lattice of aurality while the oblong copper ring is fondled with a couple of snare brushes by a mulleted maestro. We’re still not sure we can hear it but we’re certainly paying attention.

‘Rise’, is instantly recognizable. The music essentially sounds like the collapse of civilization; thrilling, entertaining and frightful all at the same time. The bass is completely discombobulating, accompanied by keys whose deep synth reverberations shake our teeth in our skull and concentration alike. Psych visuals, provided by Mate Koi, bleep, bloop, blip, and splash across the stage along with sound devices of unknown origins to mortal ears. The set confuses in as much as it captivates.

The performance was as exceptional as it was enigmatic. After each song, we got a tiny peak behind the inner workings that is Nuha’s mind, ‘2-7-4’ would be repeated, a numerical mantra, and that would be it. Were they thinking of a bus route they’d need to follow to return to parts unknown or a storage locker combination? The cipher would remain a mystery. “What does punk mean? It doesn't mean whatever you think it means.” Although these snippets come from a stream of consciousness seemingly untethered to reality. Ruby is fully present and reigns in control when necessary. Although the audience is off the hook throughout the performance, the same can’t be said for the band. Ra works both solo and with bandmates but her work is her own, so tread lightly. On more than one instance eye daggers were thrown or an abrupt gesture used to snuff out a rogue solo or transition from accompanying bandmates (so much for experimenting with each other).

Even though Nuha informed us that she’d had lost her voice at the beginning of the tour, the extra husky tones worked a treat, but their set was now drawing to a close. “How much longer have we got, 15 minutes?” The reply, from the audio-tech came, “1 more song”. Two were played ‘Run Run’ and ‘Hookah Chalice’ before the house lights came on forcing a conclusion. Seemingly, Ruby has fallen from the sky, but so does lightning. "Nuha Ruby Ra is set to begin her trailblazing quest of what may be her breakout year – dismiss her at your peril." - Clash


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