Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 7
I was dead chuffed to hear this gig had been rescheduled following the unexpected demise of the Drum and Monkey recently. You can always rely on Val and the Steamboat to come to the rescue which was excellent news in this case as a Big gig is not to be missed.
These 2 bands played the D&M in July along with The Chancers and what a top night that was even though the heat nearly killed the bands and the crowd such was its intensity. It was also the first ever show played by the Floating Maxwells. Rising from the ashes of The Rejects the line up has changed and been expanded to include a brass section as well as take on more obvious ska influences, hence their close relationship with The Big. At their first show they were clearly nervous but showed enough to suggest this would be a fine band.
And so it turned out, with the addition of trumpet to the existing sax it gives TFM’s a much broader, fuller sound. When not trumpeting there is also the added bonus of more backing vocals which also helps. Uncle J continues to lead the band in an amusing and thoroughly entertaining set and, speaking to him afterwards, they felt the same judging by his sweat soaked shirt and very broad grin. I bought their 4 song CD EP which I hope will be as good as the onstage set suggested. No-one knows if these types of bands will ever achieve the success their hard work deserves but for now you can be sure they’re heading in the right direction.
After a very brief interlude, only long enough in fact to change over the smallest amount of kit, it was time for The Big. Since I first saw them at the D&M some years ago I’ve never missed a chance to catch them live whenever the opportunity arises. I wondered if there would be much of a crowd tonight as there were some other well advertised gigs on locally. I need not have worried, by the time The Big came on The Steamboat was rammed which contributed to a great atmosphere.
As ever, frontman Ed leads the band through a fabulous set of ska and reggae tinged tunes. Ed has changed from a crew-cutted chap to what can only be described as Gizzly Adams younger brother…his close cropped hair replaced by a massive curly ‘fro and huge beard. Being at least 6’ 6” it only adds to his stage presence. Most songs are culled from albums Tears At Dover and Whatever Makes You Happy but when combined with the atmosphere and a band on form make for a thoroughly enjoyable set. Shorn of a full brass section The Big have to rely on a sole sax player which, given the confines of the small stage, is probably a good thing. It doesn’t really affect the sound or the banter onstage as The Big proceed to play a full set of excellent tunes including all the fans favourites…Trains, C*nt etc. I wonder what would happen if they ever got any TV or radio coverage given their interesting lyrics !!!
All in all another good gig night at one of Ippo’s leading music venues. If the proposed threats to The Steamboats music license do materialise it will be a real shame as it is one of the few places you can see 2 cracking live bands in a friendly environment that warms the heart.