The 100 Club is buzzing. A sold out end of tour show by The Big Moon starts to a backing tape of ‘Millennium’ by Robbie Williams, and ends with an abandoned guitar and a string of coloured fairy lights on stage. There’s no encore and The Big Moon score 10 out of 10 — the set consists of just 10 songs, but none misses the target. You get what you get — two guitars, drums, keyboards, bass and a sassy pop sensibility.
Three voices belt out the bubblegum surf rock of ‘Suzie’, which builds into a high and sweet melodic wall of sound, with hints of Ramones in the choruses. As the audience cheers the hook from ‘The Road’, their second single, the band break into smiles and they don’t stop having a great time on the 100 Club’s little stage for the next 45 minutes. This track has drummer Fern Ford playing organ over a lilting reggae rhythm, and guitarist Soph Nathan picks out a riff as big and powerful as something by blues rockers Band of Skulls or The Black Keys, giving the song a distinctive charm with edge. Nathan spars on guitar with singer Juliette Jackson as the mixed-age, mixed gender crowd sways to the beat.
“This is fun,” says Nathan. “Yeah, this is really, really awesome,” adds bassist Celia Archer ahead of the roar of feedback that kicks off ‘Eureka Moment’ — a clash of boppy verses, a shout out of ‘London Calling’, and military drum rolls. The moshers at the front are getting pushed over onto the edge of the low stage and ‘Bonfire’ starts — a multi-phase song with smoochy, sexy bass from Archer, choppy guitar, a bit of a tango feel and a lot of rock. The arbiters of taste in the mini-mosh pit go mad for the third single, ‘Cupid’, singing loudly: “Sorry I’m not your guy… I’ve been waiting for a girl like you.” Like the other releases from The Big Moon so far, it’s clever, memorable, touching and intense, all at the same time.
‘Nothing Without You’ combines quiet-loud indie with ‘60s pop in a rolling rocking song that breaks down into swing and explodes back for the finale. A post-punk reworking of ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Madonna highlights Archer’s sultry bass, vocal togetherness from the front three, and the guitar interplay of Nathan and Jackson. More disjointed bubblegum pop and vocal harmonies follow with ‘Pull The Other One’, as Jackson stares happily with wide-eyed focus at her buddies in the band.
The buzz is getting a bit frenzied, so Archer asks everyone to “calm down, chill, just breathe in, just take some deep breaths. Honestly, you’ll enjoy it more.” Jackson joins in with the deep breathing exercise, as if it’s rehearsed, but it’s typically spontaneous. Jackson starts ‘Formidable’, singing “did she make you swallow all your pride”, Archer joins in on vocals, Ford does her organ and drums trick and Nathan caresses her guitar as the well-built song heads towards its lilting conclusion.
The pulsating first single ‘Sucker’ ends the set, another lovely lilting tune, with that organ from Ford, briefly quietening down as everyone near the stage joins in to sing along “I never thought that you would become my greatest friend”, before the pace re-quickens, and a girl bursts from the intensifying mini-mosh to join the band on stage for a dance, but The Big Moon don’t miss a beat — and then they’re gone. It feels like a significant event, a real happening, one of those rare buzzing nights in this iconic underground venue that’s launched a hundred careers.
This The Big Moon article was written by Ian Bourne, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Ian Bourne.