Gig/Concert: The Big Pink at Lee’s Palace
Venue: Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 29 November 2009
Headliners: The Big Pink
In one word: Adhesive
Arriving at Lee’s Palace at 10 o’ clock, just ten minutes before London band The Big Pink came on, it took me mere seconds to be become immersed in my own pre-show kick. I’d made one of my infamously last-minute guest list requests for this gig in the hope of shooting one of Britain’s buzz bands of the moment, but I hadn’t heard anything before heading out, so I just turned up without my camera and paid my cover. It turned out that I’d been added to the guest list last moment, but never mind that – I was just glad I got in to check out this band, who are rounding off their current North American tour.
I took my place in the centre of the dance floor area, which was familiarly sticky, so much so that my Chuck’s became glued by the mix of sweat and booze that covered the floor. I’m pretty sure the good people at Lee’s must mop that floor sometimes, but perhaps there was still some perspiration left-over from the Arkell’s show the night before. By the end of this gig I was likely the main culprit in making that floor even more adhesive – I found myself downing and dropping a few Beck’s in an attempt to keep myself hydrated as the man funk poured off my body.
Yeah, this was a hot one folks.
There was a good turn-out too which included to my right George Stroumboulopoulos, who for anyone outside of Canada is a popular talk-show host and radio DJ.
In a lot of ways this gig reminded me of my first encounter with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, way back in Middlesborough, England in 2003. The similarities included the fact that the BRMC had been backlit on stage that night in such a way as you couldn’t really see their faces – the same kind of effect was in affect tonight as The Big Pink stood as silhouettes. This lighting, together with some help from the good ol’ smoke machine, created the desired moody-cool stage presence to fit their music.
In terms of their actual sound, The Big Pink aren’t a million miles away from BRMC either, but really they remind me a lot more of Kasabian. “Too Young To Love” is a particularly Kasabian-ish song, a really good tune, defiantly upbeat and laddish, compared to most of The Big Pink’s other stuff which is more your downbeat stare-at-yer-shoes type of indie rock. In any case, to be blunt, it’s not like we’re comparing apples to apples here by citing Kasabian: the bulk of the material that The Big Pink played tonight wouldn’t even make the grade as a Kasabian B-side.
As much as I enjoyed the fifty minutes or so that The Big Pink played, there were definitely a few moments where the atmosphere waned due to some weaker, less-interesting songs which drew more muted responses. There was just enough really good stuff mixed in throughout the keep an an enthused crowd, with “Velvet” being another of The Big Pink’s top tracks – in terms of lyrics, this is the band’s strongest work so far.
Frontman Robbie Furze stood in centre stage with a laddish poise but really it wasn’t until the last song “Dominos” that there was a song befitting of such sulking bravado. Dominos was the song that everyone knew the words to, what with that catchy-as-hell chorus, and the atmosphere rocketed to an elated climax with a song that is a true indie electro rock anthem.
There was no encore, which wasn’t a surprise because its fair to say that this band are a bit short of material right now – their debut release A Brief History Of Love only came out in September this year on 4AD. Make no mistake though, The Big Pink are an exciting band and if they can go on to create new material of the same calibre as “Dominos” and “Velvet” then they could be one of the top indie rock bands of the next decade.
© Brian Banks