Big Thief

Big Thief


Whispers about Brooklyn’s Big Thief seem to have echoed across America; Npr music’s Bob Boilen, the man who saw 666 gigs last year, hailed them as a band ‘bound by big songs’ calling their album’ title track ‘Masterpiece’ “one of the best songs of the year”, while Pitchfork said songs on the album were “cherrypicked from a lifetime of writing”. However, while their debut album is one of the year’s standouts, word seems to be spreading slower across the UK possibly impacted by the fact they’ve never played abroad before – singer and songwriter Adrianne Lenker has never even been overseas before.

Tonight then is a momentous night for Big Thief even if Adrianne comments that we’re simply ‘just more human beings’. Bravely, two of their first three tracks tonight are not from their record, yet they seem a continuation of the album tracks, never depreciating in quality. ‘Vegas’ is the first cut from the record and is emblematic of the band’s distinctive sound, arresting the listener with their subtlety as intricate guitars, understated vocals and soft drums make for great effect.

The drums reach a stomping level for the more imposing ‘Real Love’, with Adrianne’s voice rising to the occasion. The first cheers of the night arrive at its climax and Big Thief allow no let up following one bit of pop brilliance with another, as the wonderful ‘Masterpiece’ makes its appearance. It is blessed with a chorus that will draw singalongs with familiarity, but the silence from the crowd reveals how enrapturred thet are with this band, with the usual chatter that accompanies a support act non-existent.

Buck, the guitarist who has previously made records with lead singer Adrianne, then delivers the surprise of the night with a breathtaking accapella. Buck’s voice echoes Bob Dylan and its depth alone has the same affect on the audience as a full band song, with the crowds cheers and whoops just as loud.

‘Velvet Ring’ is short but sweet and like a spectre its effect grows with increasing listens. ‘Paul’ is full of great pop moments and begins with the best vocal of the night from Adriannne before an enchanting chorus sends feet tapping. ‘Parallels’ closes the night and for many cements Big Thief as their new favourite band. As I turn around, there’s a rush to the merchandise stand and a poignant reminder that if you arrive early you never know what you might find.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.