A few weeks ago we reviewed the debut EP, The Idles, from non-genre Big Sixes (you can hear more about their lack of genre in our upcoming interview with them – let’s call them indie-rock for now), and after it’s release last Sunday, they (in the words of frontman Charlie Costello) “packed twelve pairs of socks and headed out on tour”. More akin to a massive living room gig than a headline show, the intimate atmosphere of Nottingham’s Bodega (where we previously saw them supporting Canterbury) was put to its best use, with supports Yakobo and Natasha North setting a fine example of what was to come.
Those who’re familiar with the band will be aware of their concept of “Club Omega” – for those who aren’t, this is the idea of doing whatever you want and however you want. With this mindset present from the obscure merch (zines) to the black backdrop of the set with a massive white Omega symbol printed on, the night had a relaxed and informal vibe to it; the trio (plus drummer) showed that if a live show is pitch perfect to a studio version you’ve only paid to see the songs, and not the life live performance can add to the music.
Describing the frontman’s attitude as “chuffed” would be the most apt word choice, smiling like the cat that got the cream from the off, and allowing the audience to pick up on the distinct difference between his voice as spoken word and singing. Fan favourite Swallowing Flies gets the ball rolling, familiarity making this Big Sixes classic a polished performance to an exceptionally tight standard, control of the sound highlighted in the music’s rise and fall.
This golden oldie flowed directly into a brand new track, performed with the same confidence and to the same standard. Lighter undertones pierced through the bass heavy sound, at certain moments being almost jarring with the incongruity that sets them apart. Another handful of grateful words were uttered before new Chump began, a more vibrant track that had Costello dancing like somewhat of a loveable numpty and the crowd wanting to join in.
As the frontman once said of the same stage, “thanks for letting a chubby guy and his mates play a gig in a venue where I don’t even need to use a microphone”. Choosing to render the mic redundant made Unless I’m Mistaken (or The Coroner’s Daughter (I Heard She Died In An Accident)) a bit special; the clear cut vocals that opened the track with a slight sense of a lethargic cadence switched to shouting unpowered into the room for a while, and along with other little tidbits, it emphasised the down-to-earth attitude of the outfit.
The sharp snap between the band’s friendly banter between tracks and the precision throughout them was both surprising and impressive, adding a human touch to the show. Scared was a prime example of how the live show went above and beyond the studio versions of the new record; the vocals truly came to life and shaped the track, with the impact both where the song breaks and where it closes being even more of a powerful shock. Three vocalists allowed the depth of the track to be maintained, leaving the track as a stand out of the night.
Heaven Sent proved to be another track boasting a weighty impact; the second Charlie of the band (Mr. Bush) added an almost falsetto layer to the sound, contrasting the deeper and more mellowed out pace the first Charlie provided. Dust/Dusk makes it as another new work to erupt abruptly with confidence, before slipping to older track The Devil Makes Work For Idle Tongues to close the on-stage show – at one moment Costello looks marginally shock at the line, “your words were meant for breaking hearts and mine were made for mending them”.
Of course, as this is Big Sixes, what would usually constitute the end of a show doesn’t; instead, the band take to the floor and perform three tracks acoustically – Love Let Me Go, Kidding Myself and (personal favourite) That St Valentine Is Such A Gossip. Featuring moments of a cappella, whistling, crowd sing a longs and clapping, centred in a tight circle in the middle of the audience the band left the crowd smiling at the eclectic show with a personal touch.
Imagine a Big Sixes live show as a Galaxy Cookie Crumble chocolate bar; perfectly executed throughout, sublime for the majority and with little surprises that shock you and change the game a little bit, still leaving a lingering aftertaste of happiness. In other words, Big Sixes will impress you in ways you didn’t realise you wanted to be impressed.