Live Review: Big Deal at London Lexington – 21st November 2011

By on Thursday, 1st December 2011 at 2:00 pm

Words by Ben Parkinson

Big Deal operate in the periphery between defined musical genre, pragmatically plucking influences from acoustic and anti-folk, to indie, garage (or in this case ‘front porch’) rock and post-grunge. Soaked in adolescent angst and words of unrequited love, they conjure crisp Polaroids of colonial Americana; a bedroom creation with overtones of the Moldy Peaches, Giant Drag or even Bob Dylan’s time with Joan Baez. Their sound is mirrored in the surroundings of The Lexington, Kings Cross, with its polished bar, honest vibe and American draught.

Tonight’s atmosphere is sedate as the crowd filters up the narrow staircase towards the stage. The raised rear means everyone is guaranteed a view, but for some ardent fans it is their first opportunity to hear tracks from Big Deal’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘Lights Out’, released in August 2011. The crowd moves forward to fully experience this intensely intimate spectacle. As the delightfully waifish Alice Costello and band mate Kacey Underwood prepare their well-loved guitars, they chat with fans as if they were high-school friends hanging around their practice room.

Tuning flows seamlessly into Big Deal’s opener, the haunting ‘Seraphine’, and the themes of love and worried apprehension that makes up the lyrical backdrop are given aural resonance through the wandering melodies of Underwood’s acoustic and the bite from Costello’s telecaster. Strangely for a band on the cusp of cracking the NME set, the duo seem sincere enough in their music to avoid exaggerated self-promotion, despite their debut album barely having time to register on the musical seismometer.

The brooding of ‘Distant Neighbourhood’ gives way to the minimal yet playfully distant sound of ‘Homework’, a teenage tale of innocent lust to which the audience stands in appreciative silence. Between songs the in-jokes and coy smiles sent between band mates gives the audience the role of a communal ‘third wheel’ which continues into the flirtatious ‘Cool Like Kurt’ and painful finality of ‘With The World At My Feet’.

They wrap up with the infectious ‘Talk’ and an encore of Big Star’s autumnal ‘13’ before the lights go up and the audience seems to wake from a hazy slumber. Having toured almost continuously since August, their look of enjoyment and release is still evident to a crowd who identify with these timeless teen worries. It is hard to predict how Big Deal intend to follow on from such a debut, but for tonight at least the pair have delivered with such personal resonance that their sound has taken root in the memory and consciousness of this congregation.

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[…] Deal are driven by a sort of unrequited, discordant chemistry that lends itself to a live setting (my review of their Lexington gig in November 2011 here). Fans of Moldy Peaches, She and Him and even Giant Drag may find solace in this dusted duet but, […]

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