Saturday 8 May 2010

The Big Pink, Sheffield Leadmill

First tonight, Esben and the Witch, from Brighton, who take their name from a Danish fairytale... They take the stage with a couple of miniature street lamps and a porcelain owl or two. Enough said? Singer Rachel Davies, stands between her two guitarists and delivers an ethereal sound that is perhaps part Portishead, part Bat For Lashes, maybe. Most of the real action seems to revolve around the solitary drum and cymbal that is set up in the middle of the stage.

Dark, gloomy and intriguing... nothing like tonight’s headliners, The Big Pink.

Who open with the wail of guitars and an ear shattering rendition of ‘Too Young To Love’, that sounds little like it does on record. This is the approach they take to most of their material. They make everything bigger, beefier, louder, more distorted. So much so that some folk who have come for more of the bubbly pop of their hit record ‘Dominos’ immediately seem disappointed. Once you make the mental adjustment though it’s all rather good. Personally I have never actually been a big fan of 'Dominos' anyway, the track quickly became irritating but I was swayed, surprisingly, by the heavier sound of the rest of the album which I rather like.

The Big Pink are actually officially a duo. Consisting of singer/guitarist/self appointed rock God Robbie Furze and his keyboard maestro Milo Cordell. Cordell has his hoodie over his head all night as he prods at his keyboards, while simultaneously working an impressive range of effects pedals (for a non guitarist) and updating his Facebook profile via his laptop (or whatever else he’s using the laptop for). These two are joined on stage by their scantily clad drummer, Akiko Matsuura. Who was hidden from my view practically all night (shame) by a combination of her own drum kit and the band’s bass player who completed their live line-up.

'At War With the Sun' followed again accompanied by Furze’s shrieking guitar and a bass cranked up so loud and rumbling it’s almost painful. Although this is probably my own fault for standing right in front of the bass player’s amp.

The guitars are cut back slightly for ‘Velvet’ and ‘Frisk’, which are slightly more electronic, as tracks from their album made up the first half of the set. The best of which are probably an excellent ‘Crystal Visions’, sounding particularly huge tonight and a fave of mine, the wonderful ‘Count Backwards From Ten’.

The content of the second half is less clear cut, as they slip in a few covers and a new song. They cover ‘100%’, although I’m not sure where they got it from. Didn’t Mariah Carey do a song called 100%? and didn’t Sonic Youth? To be honest, it could be either or neither. Someone please advise.

No one is particularly talkative, apart from the odd cry of 'Sheffield’ from Furze and a brief introduction to a new track called ‘Twilight’, there’s little chat.

They finished in more of a pop mode with the new single, ‘Tonight’, a cover version of Beyonce’s ‘Sweet Dreams’, yes really and of course, 'Dominos'. I hate it when bands save their 'big' record until the end but it sounds good tonight and at least they don't elongate it.

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