LIVE: The Big Moon, Manchester Academy 2

It’s been a long time coming. Two years, seven months and thirteen days to be precise. The longest wait I’ve ever had between buying a ticket and going to the gig. A long time coming. And I’m running late.

The bus that takes me almost perfectly door to door from my house to the venue has been and gone. An overpriced taxi for one is out of the question. I’m not…I’m not about to drive to a gig am I? I justify it through the time saved and already knowing a free place to park around the corner from the venue. Plus it gives me a chance for a quick bit of Big Moon revision over the car speakers.

In the end I arrive with plenty of time to spare and even catch a glimpse of accomplished support Gently Tender, featuring Celia from The Big Moon. She’s working hard on this tour.

Back to my drive for just a moment. The first song I revised was ‘It’s Easy Then’ and I thought ‘this would make a great set opener’. And so it was as Fern, Soph, Celia and Jules took the stage one by one. It was finally time. We sang back every word as if we’d been obediently learning every one for the past two years. From the first ‘oh-oh, oh-oh’ backing vocal there was a smile stuck on my face. I’ve still not got used to the ability of live music to do this after our unscheduled global break, or, as the band themselves put it, ‘the thing’.

It was a Sunday night but The Big Moon (and many members of the crowd younger and less tired than I) were in a Friday or Saturday night mood. Non-ironic rock posing occurred during almost every song and they were clearly loving it. Their much professed love for us seemed as genuine as their clear love for one another. Not many bands can come across so fun and authentic – not a single between-song utterance appeared feigned. Their songs are so relatable, or certainly to anyone who has turned 30 in recent years, and everything that they meant to both the band and the fans was on display.

There was a big range of musical skills on show with no band member playing fewer than two instruments apiece. This was done with real dedication too – they had to borrow two flutes (following an equipment mishap on tour in Spain) just to perform the eight bar intro to ‘Barcelona’. 

No one album’s songs took precedence in the setlist and we were treated to a range of tunes from across the three. The band especially seemed to enjoy playing tunes like ‘Cupid’ and ‘Bonfire’ from debut Love in the 4th Dimension, giving them a chance to show off their rockier side, plus their ‘cute’ side with an acapella three-part close harmony rendition of the first verse of ‘Formidable’. The new songs sound big. Big in ambition. Big in production. A big sound ready for big venues. And they’re only new in the sense that we’re not yet able to hold the new album in our hands. ‘Wide Eyes’ and ‘Trouble’ are already both getting a great reception. 

Beyond the tunes themselves, The Big Moon embrace putting on a show with the same fun spirit I’ve already mentioned. We sang in unison to their cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, sat on the floor at their command and waved our phone lights to ‘Waves’, despite this bringing us the misfortune of having to see the inside of the naff school hall that is Academy 2. But hey, we can’t blame The Big Moon for the venue. And of course they said goodnight with ‘Your Light’. What else?

A long time coming. What seemed a short time going. They’re playing a headline tour set for 90 minutes with tunes to spare. And with what I’ve heard from the new album tonight I’m a bunch more excited now than I was before. This band is going places soon and it will be a long time coming before we see them in venues this small again.

Words by James Spearing

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