BIG SPECIAL live in Manchester: a superb soulpunk cacophony

Black Country soulpunk duo BIG SPECIAL

There are few places on Earth like Manchester when the sun is out.

Up and down Oxford Street, the pubs and bars burst with shorts and pints, cocktails in parks and cigarette smoke clouding the perimeter of every boozer. It’s set to be a huge night, as Brummie heroes BIG SPECIAL are in town.

Deaf Institute is a gorgeous old building; with gigs on two floors, the grand venue fills up fast and the merciful air conditioning eases the pre-summer heat. Before the BS boys take to the stage, the ‘Institute is treated to a stunning support slot from Friedburg: who play out a muscular rock set, combining shades of Wolf Alice with more industrial-rock instrumentals and some sublime cowbell parts.

Just as the venue hits capacity, BIG SPECIAL take to the stage: they’re a duo, and the lone mic of Joe Hicklin stands in line with Callum Moloney’s sprawling drum kit. The pair stride out, up the small stairs and onto the stage. They’re kitted out as bandits, supporting snazzy cowboy hats and bandanas, the pair lap up their reception.

They launch straight into ‘BLACK COUNTRY GOTHIC’, sending the packed room into raptures early doors. ‘I MOCK JOGGERS’ and ‘DESPERATE BREAKFAST’ quickly follow, with each cut giving the crowd more license to throw themselves around. Before the duo unleash the next tune, they profess that “we’ve had trouble getting this one on the radio… I can’t think why…” The band acknowledge the crowd’s cries of “SHITHOUSE!” by launching head first into the track. Throughout, the pair share a number of nods and winks, glances and to see the sheer delight on stage is palpable – their joy transmits directly to the audience.

There are some gorgeous moments of poetry, where Joe Hicklin (lovingly dubbed “Edger Allan Joe ” by Moloney) recites his verse acapella, stood reciting from a single, crumpled sheet of A4. Of course the poems don’t quiet the crowd and there are multiple thunderous chants of “PO-E-TRY, PO-E-TRY, PO-E-TRY!” Which is met with clear appreciation from BS. They rattle through their recent debut LP, POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES from top to bottom, with the hardcore drums placed front and centre of proceedings; blasting the Mancunion crowd squarely in their collective face. The Deaf Institute has never been so loud, BS’ ferocity and love make for a quite superb soulpunk noise, which blows the roof off the gaff. There is serious heft to BIG SPECIAL, and they are a band that have the makings of something to behold.

There is truly something in the air at this show, once both band members find themselves amongst their public for ‘TREES’, it is unquestionable that this is one of the best, loudest, most in your face shows to ever grace the Deaf stage. BIG SPECIAL are a gigantic prospect of post punk and hearty soul, and their unequivocal devotion to the early risers, 9-5ers, landlord hating, paycheck to paycheck earners is as charming as it is empowering.

Read our recent interview with BIG SPECIAL here.

featured image: Isaac Watson 

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