Glastonbury Review: BIG SPECIAL

June 28, 2024

This Birmingham duo makes Sleaford Mods look lightweight, Idles soft, and The Fall leaden…Okay, maybe that’s a bit far. Let’s start again. The urgent urchin charm of BIG SPECIAL is the result of two like minds meeting and shaping something out of the rubble of our cultural landscape. A pair that can see our social services in dire straits and a gig economy that exploits the working class.

Listen to the lyrics on their excellent debut LP, POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES, and it’s clear for all to see that there’s a blazing intellect at work here. Singer Joe Hicklin’s words focus on social injustice, communities in doldrums and observational frustration; an everyday ennui that’s garlanded praise and won fans far and wide.

Filling out the Left Field tent, they tore off the tent’s roof in thirty short, sharp minutes. Looking like a wild-eyed, mischievous Charles Bronson, drummer Callum Moloney spoke with the snarl of Johnny Rotten and hit his kit harder than John Bonham in a stinking mood. Hicklin, on the other hand, spat his words with jagged venom and sang like a beautiful bird. Dancing between those two extremes is a rare gift.

Aside from drums, the music that filled the tent was a raucous backing track. The fuzzed-up bass was filthier than a pricklier than a hedgehog, and the guitars charged with punk grit and apoplectic rage. The paint peeling power of ‘SHITHOUSE’ was enough to incite a riot on its own. The fact is their whole set could do it. “Hearing you sing that was one of the finest moments of my fucking life,” Callum declared after a scintillating ‘BLACK DOG/WHITE HORSE’, a song so beautiful it could be a gospel hymn. Meanwhile a smoking ‘THIS HERE AIN’T WATER’ also elicited a hypnotic effect.

Anthemic but never anaemic, BIG SPECIAL’s gnarly flip flop between commercial choruses and bloodcurdling verses worked an absolute charm. No matter which emotion they channel, protest is the name of the day. This is music that grabs you by the throat and spits in your face, daring you to look away. They are on the up and they have something to say. So, listen up. After all, this is just the start. Something big and something special, indeed. They provided a Worthy Farm highlight and it’s only Day One of the festival.

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