Having already swung by Bristol for a release-week celebration at Rough Trade, The Big Moon are back to rock The Fleece with their first headline tour for over two years. The indie heroes arrive armed with songs from their stellar new record Walking Like We Do, which builds on the grit and guts of their debut by introducing new textures and subtleties to their songwriting.
With the venue fully and unequivocally sold out, it falls to Prima Queen to get people warmed up. They smash it, drawing equally from Americana and gritty rock to adorn their smart indie tunes. The twin venture of transatlantic songwriting duo Louise McPhail, a Bristol native, and Chicagoan Kristin McFadden, the band’s all-white uniform gives the four-piece an arresting visual metaphor for their well-honed performance. Trading vocals and lead guitar lines effortlessly between them, McPhail and McFadden the performance takes punters by surprise, giving Prima Queen their full attention and an enthusiastic reception.
The Big Moon are loving life at the moment, with a critically lauded second album released last month and getting back into the swing of playing shows after a year or so off the road. Kicking off with an oldie ‘Sucker’ gets the crowd singing along and the band riffing their way around the stage. Those first-album songs still form a large part not only of the setlist but also this group’s charm, ramshackle indie rooted around earworm melodies and the band’s big personalities.
With the new record featuring more keys, synth and production the songs could feel tame when performed in comparison, but it’s testament to both the quality of songwriting and The Big Moon’s emphatic character that they sit comfortably tonight. ‘It’s Easy Then’ features three killer hooks and a quick trumpet solo from drummer Fern Ford and is easily as catchy as anything they’ve written.
‘Take a Piece’ and ‘Holy Roller’ are infectious, offering brilliant harmonies and a chance for the band to swap up instruments, bass handed to Jules Jackson allowing Celia Archer to deliver a sublime turn on keys. That sense of adventure and playfulness is key to The Big Moon’s draw, illustrated by a joyous cover of Fatboy Slim’s iconic ‘Praise You’, each of the quartet getting a chance to show off their impeccable musicianship. After ‘Why’ and ‘Waves’ give a chance for a breather, we blast out in style ‘Your Light’ closing the show with masterful Fleetwood Mac references and vocals.
The response all night is rapturous in its applause and its engagement, the crowd diverse in age, and it feels like one of those rare occasions you’re witnessing a band taking a big leap.