Live Review Biig Piig, Gorilla, Manchester
As with her latest mixtape, it’s tantalisingly inconsistent in style and beautiful in delivery.
Jess Smyth pauses after one of her soft-spoken bedroom pop breakthroughs. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been doing headline shows,” she beams, looking out over a sold-out crowd at Manchester’s industrial Gorilla. In that time, she’s been toying with new sounds, dropping the first real taste of her electronic expansion of the otherwise insular sound - ‘Switch’ - a week into lockdown. Where 2021’s ‘The Sky Is Bleeding’ held back, this year’s ‘Bubblegum’ fully removed its guard, with the likes of the Deb Never-featuring ‘Picking Up’ and ‘Kerosene’ throwing Biig Piig firmly into clubs, embracing all-out rave and nostalgic disco respectively. Releasing ‘Bubblegum’ under the guise of a mixtape allowed her to freely push the boundaries of her music. It’s mirrored on stage, as the hour-long set weaves between minimalist R&B that perhaps only Erika de Casier has recently mastered with as much ease, jazz and blues immeasurably bolstered by an incredible live band, and pure hedonism. The setlist plays with tempo, gliding upwards from the soft swagger of ‘Don’t Turn Around’ to a midpoint climax courtesy of the self-affirmative ‘In The Dark’, into unadulterated euphoria.
The narrative offers space for ‘90s Britpop nods (‘Feels Right’), to bedroom R&B, to dancefloor fillers without missing a beat. As ‘Switch’ jumps into ‘Picking Up’, the softness of the show’s opening moments is a distant memory, with Gorilla flooded in lasers and strobe lighting. Singular encore ‘Kerosene’ mirrors the glitterball brilliance of Jessie Ware, yet with a distinctive Biig Piig twist. As with her latest mixtape, it’s tantalisingly inconsistent in style and beautiful in delivery; a showcase of an artist on the rise, pushing boundaries, and having a damn good time doing it.”}]