BIG|BRAVE / Aicher @ Ramsgate Music Hall, 22nd May 2024

Having now become somewhat of a part-time regular at Ramsgate Music Hall in Kent, it means that where possible I can get to witness a lot of touring artists who I feel intrigued by locally, and thankfully as a big time supporter of the Mother Brain shows at the venue when the opportunity arose to see BIG|BRAVE’s return to the venue two years after their previous mind-blowing appearance, I wasn’t going to wait around to be left without a ticket.

Two years ago, BIG|BRAVE, supported by the incredible Fågelle, absolutely crushed the ambience in the venue, with a vitriolic performance, filled with passion and with uncomfortable angst, which burnt right through your soul, leaving a trail of sonic oblivion in its wake.

BIG|BRAVE / Aicher @ Ramsgate Music Hall, 22nd May 2024

Step forward two years, and here we are again, same band, same venue, but this time as a quartet, having the additional talents of Liam Andrews along for the ride.

The addition of Andrews to the dynamic has pushed the band into overdrive as a live unit, and even cuts from the latest BIG|BRAVE release A Chaos Of Flowers have been remodelled and revolutionised when tracks appear in a live setting.

After reviewing said album for The Sleeping Shaman, I have been intrigued to experience what in 2024 the band would bring to a live setting. As a long-time fan, I have witnessed their evolution both on record, and now live a couple of times over the years, and with each new phase comes a new level of growth in sound and expression.

On this most recent outing, and knowing I would be seeing the band perform a few days later at Portals Festival, I prepared myself for what I knew would be something special, but boy was I unprepared for just what an all-encompassing and sonically charged night would unfold.

Aicher @ Ramsgate Music Hall, 22nd May 2024 – Photo by Ceejay Bonner

Aicher aka Liam Andrews, opened the evening with a solo set, and to say it was an eye-opening revelation would be an understatement. Watching the artist create these droned soundscapes was nothing short of mesmerising, and over the course of the thirty minutes, the whole room stood silently still as Andrews organically churned forth these sparse, yet intoxicating sounds.

Feeling like the dawning of time, the rumbles vibrated from speaker to ear, as dream-like tones of darkness filtered through every pore and shrouded the soul in monotoned moroseness. Truly captivating, by the end of the set it left little doubt as to the mood for the evening. Add to that the absence of pretty much all light sources, the senses became overwhelmed with it all.

After a brief intermission, it was time to reset the mind and spirit, as BIG|BRAVE took to the stage, to woo the crowd with an impassioned performance, the likes of which it is nigh on impossible to fully explain eloquently, or fathom either, for that matter. Knowing from previous experiences that the band like to work the senses, and play with next to no light, save for a couple of low-level spotlights, this only added to the immersion and intensity of it all.

Understanding that the band seem to completely zone out and into their own little hemisphere when on stage, they use every single second to maximum devastation. By that, I don’t mean that what you are getting is a full-on barrage of breakneck thrash metal intensity, it’s more a case of every little note being blown up into its own nuclear meltdown.

BIG|BRAVE @ Ramsgate Music Hall, 22nd May 2024 – Photo by Lee Beamish

Watching the members of the band focused on each solitary second is a delight to behold, and whenever Mathieu Ball leans in to thrust his guitar towards his amps, even the feedback is used as an additional instrument. To be fair, watching Mathieu even as his own entity is absolutely mesmerising. Most guitarists strum and pull, and pick at strings to make sound, Mathieu takes that to a different realm and uses the vary reverberations to create sonic joy.

Add to that Liam mirroring those ideas with his bass, and it is like watching two aeroplanes in a dogfight. They weave in and out of each other, springboarding off the amps to create such a texture in sound that it’s easy to forget that they are even playing stringed instruments at all.

While this is going on, as hard as it is to pull attention away to look toward Tasy Hudson rhythmically holding each outpouring together is absolutely essential. Tasy’s timing is an absolute joy to behold, and from each gentle tap to the thunderous crash on the percussion, the mastery of sound is evident. Like watching an artist laying strokes on a canvas, she swathes over the kit in such a way it is like watching a ballet being performed. The very backbone of the band, the attention to detail, each cymbal clash, to each gentle brush on the skins, nothing at any point is less than perfection.

BIG|BRAVE @ Ramsgate Music Hall, 22nd May 2024 – Photo by Lee Beamish

At this point it would be remiss of me to in any way to forget about the one and only Robin Wattie. An artist, who not only sings but within each performance draws their very soul from within, pours it out through the microphone and into the ether.

As the vocalist and guitarist who makes up the full dynamic of the band, Robin not only uses the guitar to convey feeling but sings in such an impassioned way that, at times, it feels more like an outpouring of pain than it does anything resembling any degree of a song. Using those talents to create a monologue on which to build an understanding, Robin is impossible to turn away from as tracks are performed, and each whisper is equally as relevant as every scream.

The band treat the audience to an experience unlikely to be matched by any other band at the venue any time soon, and by the time it has all finished it feels like the foundations of the building have been shaken to their core. As humble and unassuming as can be, the band thanked the audience, the venue, and the staff, before leaving for a well-deserved unwinding.

Leaving the venue, again speechless by the band, it takes the journey home, and a night’s rest, to fully comprehend what has been witnessed. knowing that a few days later would see a return to the world of BIG|BRAVE I recompose myself and await another unparalleled trip into the world of the band, shaken, shook, but completely overjoyed.

Scribed by: Lee Beamish
Photos by: Ceejay Bonner (Aicher) / Lee Beamish (BIG|BRAVE)

Scribed by: Lee Beamish