Live Review: Big Thief

By Niall Christie
CCA, Glasgow, 6 November 2017

A cold night in Glasgow welcomed rising stars of indie folk, Big Thief, to the dreary delights of Sauchiehall Street for the second time since August. This time the main event, the band’s edge was present as in their previous visit but lacking was a focus which was glaringly missing throughout.

Minus one quarter of the band and a guitar after leaving it on their travels, Big Thief’s slightly underwhelming and scatter-gun show at the CCA on Monday had a very start-stop feel which had a real effect on viewing.

Taking to the stage after an impressive support slot played by Katie Von Schleicher, Adrianne Lenker and company opened with two songs written within the last week to varying degrees of success. While I am in no way against debuting new tracks, some preparation wouldn’t have gone a miss. The opener was a disaster, with Lenker showcasing her beautiful vocals for little over a verse before abruptly stopping, admitting that she couldn’t remember the words. Fortunately for everyone in the room, the band didn’t make everyone wait long for more, with another new song taking a bow and faring significantly better.

While the middle part of the show also showcased other tracks previously unheard by much of the audience, a feature of the evening which contributed to the slightly flat atmosphere at times, fans were treated to a number of Big Thief “hits. The band’s two albums to date have produced consistently mystifying sounds and brought to the surface emotions lying deep in the hearts of listeners.For much of the show at the CCA this was displayed, with ‘Paul’, the undoubted highlight of the night, alongside ‘Mary’, ‘Masterpiece’ and others seeing the band quickly get the crowd back on side.

But, however unfortunate it may have been, the evening stumbled to an end. With the guitar missing in action, the borrowing of one from the support act would have to act as a stopgap for the night. This forgetfulness came back to bite Big Thief. With fans waiting in the wings for the captivating ‘Mythological Beauty’, the promise of the track was strong with only a couple of songs left. But the disorganisation showed and the game was up the poley, with the guitarist’s capo not fitting on the guest guitar’s neck. While this in no way ruined the evening, the overall feeling as fans came away was somewhat downbeat as they wondered what might have been on a better evening.

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