The Big Moon – The Haunt – 20th April 2017

The Big Moon arrived in Brighton for the first night of their UK headline tour and showed exactly why they have been hailed as the next great British band with an electrified display at The Haunt. The hype behind this group has been building steadily over the last year or so, and this month’s release of their debut album Love in the 4th Dimension has elevated it even further with a series of five-star reviews and a string of superlatives laid at their feet. Judging by this sensational performance, The Big Moon are now ready and waiting to justify all those hopes and expectations and sweep all before them.

Following a solid set from local band Breathe Panel, London-based Swedish band Francobollo gave the crowd a shot in the arm with a manic, energetic and highly entertaining show. It’s hard to categorise their music as it straddles many genres from the angular guitar sounds of Everything Everything to the glorious harmonies and pop hooks of Weezer. What is easy to describe is just how much fun they are, with the crowd bouncing throughout and being kept enthralled even during a lengthy instrument repair interlude. Francobollo are definitely ones to watch out for, even being granted an encore after the crowd were shouting for more. Surely a rarity for a support act!

As the lighting descended into darkness and the PA played Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’, The Big Moon bounced onto the stage and burst straight into ‘Silent Movie Susie’. It’s apparent straightaway that there is a lot more to this band than simply being a modern-day Elastica (who they are constantly compared to), as they have taken elements from many different influences from the likes of The Libertines and Pixies, made them their own, and turned it all into a thrilling live mix. Singer Juliette Jackson’s vocals are flawless as she bounces in and out of the audience from the very first song onwards, clearly enjoying the reaction from a delirious and packed crowd. Playing a rejected album track, ‘Nothing Without You’, early in the setlist shows just how strong their work is already as it is frankly better than a lot of current bands’ best work. The first major highlight of the night comes with the one-two of ‘Cupid’ and ‘Formidable’, as the audience nearly drown the band out with their own singing.

Their music may sound deceptively chaotic live, but up close you see just how tight this band is. Celia Archer (bass) and Soph Nathann (guitar) may not take the limelight as much as Juliette, but their sound is incredible and continually underpinned by Fern Ford’s thumping drumbeat behind them. The four of them clearly love playing together, continually meeting in the centre of the stage and playing for each other as much as the crowd. This infectious spirit is captured with their cover of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’, played in a thrashy punk style akin to The Runaways which causes such a reaction that the stage looks to be in real danger of being swamped by the crowd.

By the end of the show, this gig felt like one of those very important shows that in years to come will be remembered with a shake of the head and disbelief that it took place in a venue as small and intimate as The Haunt. As the entire room turned into a mosh pit during ‘Bonfire’, Juliette was deep in the crowd giving out high-fives while her bandmates carried on behind her. Finishing off with the magnificent ‘Sucker’, the sheer passion from the audience singing along with “I never thought that you would become my greatest friend” was spellbinding. These four incredibly talented musicians have captured something incredibly special and on this showing are already on their way to becoming the band of a generation.

Jamie MacMillan