Pizzagirl – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 5th December 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

You can’t deny that record label Heist or Hit, home to Her’s, Honey Moon and Pizzagirl, doesn’t have a type when it signs its acts. Those three in particular make dreamy, soothing indie-pop music and, in the live sphere, are terrifically funny and entertaining. Pizzagirl, also known as Liam Brown, displayed this superbly with his headline set at The Hope & Ruin. Made up of brilliant pop songs, a superb sense of occasion and amazing stage presence, Pizzagirl is wickedly talented and an excellent live performer.

Promoted by Brighton online music magazine Hidden Herd, the line-up, as always, was made up of four brilliant bands. Opening up the special night was Brighton band Suzi Island, who seem to be growing more and more confident with each live performance. After catching them at their very own headline set back in July, they showcased a far more superior performance with fantastic pop songs in abundance. While singles ‘Show Me The Way’ and ‘Actor’ were as fantastic live as they are on record, the highlight came from brand-new song ‘Welcome To The End of The World’. Showcasing a much more well-rounded and mature sound, the track is a stuttering, angsty slice of pop-punk that left a hell of an impression on The Hope & Ruin audience.

Next came Brighton six-piece Jumanji, who have impressed us with recent single ‘Foxes’. Producing a confident display of tropical pop, it’s instantly clear that the band have built up an exceptional back catalogue of pop bangers. The likes of set closer ‘Constellations’, which they describe as their “grooviest track”, are euphoric slices of indie-pop with lead singer Neneh Atkins’ elastic yet delicate vocals soaring above the sweltering guitar lines. Another fine Brighton indie-pop band, Jumanji are a fantastic live outfit.

Pizzagirl’s label mates, and fellow Liverpudlians, Honey Moon, who were incredible at their support slot for Her’s back in October, provided main support. A role they’ve come to relish towards the back-end of their year, they could stake a claim for the hottest, “Ones to watch” for 2019. Gliding through their back catalogue with ease, ‘(Why Do You Think You’re So) Special?’ is a definite highlight, but it’s their laidback attitude and supremely confident on-stage chemistry that is most enjoyable. A genius cover of The Cardigans’ ‘Lovefool’, too, warmed the crowd up beautifully for more delicate dream-pop with Pizzagirl. After impressing us twice in support slots in as many months, it’s about time the band come and play their very own headline slot for us in 2019.

Unfortunately, the crowd had thinned out by the time Pizzagirl made his way to the stage, but you wouldn’t have noticed by the enthusiasm the Liverpudlian brought to proceedings. Acting as a quasi disc jockey to his very own music, he’s an incredibly captivating performer and he’s got the music to back it up. Starting with Season 2 opener ‘Body Part’, which opens with a solemn intro before jumping into a rhapsodic chorus of: “Don’t you say that I couldn’t believe/ When your time is over and I’m taking your heart away” he’s a ridiculously enthralling proposition throughout. With just Brown on stage, too, alongside his laptop ‘Steve’ and his guitar ‘Denise’ as he introduced the crowd to his band, he’s got that special ability to keep a crowd entranced throughout.

Pizzagirl could have easily become just another in the long line of dream-pop outfits signed to Heist or Hit, but with tracks varied from pop bangers (‘Gymnasium’ and ‘Highschool’) and the more melancholic pieces (‘Seabirds’ and ‘Blossom at My Feet, Flower’), Pizzagirl has got the variety, lyricism and wit to stand out from the saturated crowd. Unfortunately not seen by enough people, it won’t be long before Pizzagirl is a household name in the UK.

Liam McMillen