Playing your first proper live show in a year at the world’s most prestigious festival is, by anyone’s standards, a bit of a gamble. For The Big Moon, the decision to return to the stage and debut material from their second album, Walking Like We Do, during a secret set at Glastonbury 2019 proved to be the latest in a long line of risks that have paid off.
Ever since lead singer Juliette Jackson laid the foundations for the project, back in 2014, the London-based band have consistently gone with their gut, following what feels right rather than what’s easiest. At a time where guitar-based indie had fallen out of favour, they were credited with breathing new life into the genre, and were subsequently awarded a Mercury Music Prize nomination for their 2017 debut, Love in the 4th Dimension. Impressive enough, even before you consider that – at the time of recording – the quartet were simultaneously performing backing band duties on Marika Hackman’s album, I’m Not Your Man.
A shared US tour followed that summer, during which they opened for and played back-up with Hackman every single night. Sat in an East London pub today, bassist Celia Archer still sounds awed recalling the reception they received, especially in the more remote areas of the country. “When you go to Milwaukee and there’s someone wearing your t-shirt, singing your songs…” she trails off, amazed.
Even recalling the moment their punishing schedule finally caught up with them, when drummer Fern Ford collapsed during soundcheck in Toronto, they make the experience sound character-building rather than catastrophic. ”My body gave up,” Ford grins. “I was just weeping, and my bones felt about 50 times the weight…” The fact they recall the manifold, minor touring dramas they’ve weathered together while shrieking with laughter, is testament to their friendship, which today is stronger than ever.
That close bond stood them in good stead during the creation of their much-anticipated second album. As per its predecessor, Walking Like We Do was written entirely by Jackson. But where with Love in the 4th Dimension The Big Moon simply set songs they’d been performing live for the best part of two years to tape, this time every single aspect of each new song was undefined and up for debate.