By Henry Groves
Just over a year since their Shepherd Bush Empire show, Big Thief were back in London, this time for two shows at Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. The night started with Big Thief entering the stage to thank the crowd for coming and to introduce, L’Rain, the support for their tour. Now I have seen Big Thief three times now and I have learned that you cannot predict what the support will be like and what genre of music they will play. The first time I saw them the support was metal band Ithaca. The second had American singer-songwriter Tucker Zimmermann (who released his first album back in 1968), and so I had no idea what to expect from L’Rain who was advertised as the support.
L’Rain is multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, and was joined by her band to perform an incredible set of genre-blurring music made up with aspects of R&B, post-punk and experimental pop as well as many others. One similarity across the set was the way each song built up to an emphatic crescendo. The detail behind each members part, added to produce a sound which filled the room and felt like it could only really be created live. Her albums have always got exceptional reviews, but this was on another level.
Something else that is unpredictable is Big Thief’s setlist. There a few songs that make each show, but with five albums in seven years, and setlist changes at all of their last shows on this tour, what changes would be made tonight?
Their career-spanning setlist kicked off with ‘Ruined’, an unreleased song, performed for the first time on this tour. They then played 3 songs from their latest album, before going through an eclectic setlist from all five of their albums. This included fan favourites such as ‘Not’ and ‘Masterpiece’, unreleased songs ‘Vampire Empire’ and ‘Free Treasure’ (which was performed solo by Adrianne) before they then finished with ‘Spud Infinity’ being joined by Adrianne’s brother Noah. What struck me is the way that the band altered songs from recording to the live performance. Their ability to build songs up or change the style like with the title song from their latest album truly showed that not only can they produce exceptional albums, they might be even greater live.