The Big Pink
Forum, Kentish Town
May 13, 2010
An hour in the company of The Big Pink is a sensory distorting experiment, and one that also questions your sexuality. It’s not a glam/gay thing, but there is a certain amount of homoeroticism about The Big Pink. The obvious sexual nature of the band name notwithstanding, and their record sleeves are all chicks and tits, but I think that’s to throw off the thinly veiled man-love shared between guitarist/vocalist Robbie Furze and bassist Milo Cordell.
A homecoming gig at The Forum at the end of the tour, the show was played as if it were The Big Pink jumping out of a giant frosted cake, with the band overwhelmingly excited to be in the cavernous Kentish Town Forum, returning like battle-hardened heroes fighting in foreign shores. A favoured pose by Furze (see above) or standing their with his guitar aloft like he was holding a trophy seemed to emphasise and underline just how far they’ve come in 12 months.
Working the backlit stage to an extended noise-laden introduction to “Too Young For Love”, Furze and Cordell pull their best rock poses, which hey, if you’re going to do it, the Forum stage is as good a place as any. The full-frontal mutual admiration session (see photo below) is cheese but it’s part of the performance. You could say The Big Pink played, but really, they performed, and there’s the difference. For all the intricacies found on their debut, A Brief History Of Love, The Big Pink do their level best to steamroll over the top of them, coming across like a 90’s grunge/electro hybrid.
All of which seemed apt, when a surprising but awkward sounding cover of Sonic Youth’s “100%”, appeared in their set in celebration of playing The Forum and of the bands they’ve seen perform there. It’s a moment where you stop and think ‘did they really just do that?’. On a purely biased note, I fucking hate that song. 18 years later and it still resides in the ‘everything that was bad about the grunge era’ basket. I’d love to know how many in the crowd shared looks of ‘what the fuck is this?’ when the band launched into it.
Playing to an already won over audience, The Big Pink could’ve played it safe, but really, their set had to be one of the most impressive seen and staged this year so far. A pat on the back to their lighting guy. You rarely notice such things at mid-level indie gigs but for a band who’s music is as much mood driven as it is energetic, the shift between the seizure-inducing strobe and the smoke-filled purple haze, it felt like actual thought had gone into this.
Having first crossed paths in a basement club in Gothenburg at 2am last August, The Big Pink have nothing left to prove. Any band who can cover Beyoncé, strip it down to its core and claim it as their own (with “Sweet Dreams”, performed towards the end of the set) have the potential to go anywhere from here. To borrow a few lines from the woman herself, “it could be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare”. The Big Pink (should) have it all worked out.