A jam-packed Koko gives a joyful send-off to ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’, this year’s lauded debut by The Big Moon. A bouncing mass of fans has as much fun as the band. Bassist Celia Archer gasps, “I can’t believe how many of you are here.” As always, The Big Moon end with a passionate and euphoric ‘Sucker’, smiling at each other while the whole of the front of the pit sings along in unison. There’s no need for an encore, so they don’t do one.
The Big Moon create happiness and solidarity — with nothing more than faultless singing and harmonies, two guitars, bass, drums and a natty keyboard. The festivities start with a rip-roaring ‘Silent Movie Susie’, the band harmonising in true bubblegum style, and a celebratory ‘Nothing Without You’, a rolling, rollicking rocker. ‘Happy New Year’ is tight, driving, touching, rich and beautiful, while the keyboard playing by drummer Fern Ford on early single ‘The Road’ is a thing of joy and Soph Nathan is in total control of her guitar and feedback.
“There’s nothing like home. It feels so good to be back in London,” says charismatic lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Juliette Jackson. Her voice is beautiful on the swinging Ramones-tinged ’60s pop of ‘The End’, the crowd swooning as she repeats “I’m melting”. It’s sweaty and joyous as the guitars of Nathan and Jackson chime, whoop and roar through ‘Pull The Other One’ — Blondie meets the Ronettes.
The set hits delicate notes with the “wooh, oohs” of ‘Love In The 4th’, punctuated by dynamic guitars and thumping drums. Jackson has an emotional catch in her voice as she yelps the lyrics, while Ford is drumming as if to fill a stadium. “This is a good song to make love to, consensually,” Archer says before the dreamy descending guitars and shimmering keyboards of ‘Zeds’ and, as if on command, punters in the pit snog their way through it or climb up on their dates’ shoulders.
Old fan favourites sound better than ever, the rolling drums fast and furious on ‘Eureka Moment’. Only their punked up version of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ is missing, but they’ve replaced it with then unlikeliest of crowd pleasers — Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse’: it seem as if every punter has memorised all the words, as the cheesy old hit turns into a glorious bonding ritual, accompanied by Nathan’s screaming guitar.
Everything on ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ is played, and all the singles. There are even bonus tracks — the spiralling ‘Hold This’, all jangling tambourine from Ford and sudden bursts of heavy rock guitar and bass, matched by a flash of lights; and Jackson’s solo stint for ‘Something Beautiful’, a gentle B-side reminiscent of Young Marble Giants.
This is the last contemplative moment of a set that climaxes with a string of popular and rowdy bangers. The relentless moshing is fevered and hot, but friendly — creating an incredible feeling of innocent pleasure and joint enjoyment. Cheeky lyric “Pineapple juice, tropical Rubicon courage” from ‘Cupid’ is sung throatily by the crowd, everyone joining in with “Ooooh, ooh, oooh, I’ve been waiting for a girl like you, I’m not ready for the change.” Integrity, honesty and sincerity shine through the friendship song ‘Formidable’, exploding with heart as Nathan’s guitar soars.
Bringing band and fans closer, Jackson clambers on to the barrier during a raucous ‘Bonfire’, without her guitar for a short while, as the crowd shouts back her anthemic words in an incendiary singalong: “We’ll start a bonfire / to make the time fly.” At London’s Village Underground in May, before the latest tour, moshers managed to open a circular pit and slam it closed during ‘Bonfire’, but Koko is too crowded for such shenanigans. With one voice, as ‘Sucker’ closes the set and the first chapter on The Big Moon’s career, Koko sings out the heartfelt loving lyric: “I never thought that you would become my greatest friend… I’m a sucker for you.” It’s an emotional ending to just under an hour of pure participatory enjoyment and 16 uplifting songs.
The Big Moon setlist at Koko
Silent Movie Susie
Nothing Without You
Happy New Year
Pull The Other One
Love in the 4th Dimension
Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler cover)