The Big Pink Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON November 29
Published Dec 01, 2009The Big Pink closed out regulation time at Lee's Palace with a resounding rendition of recent single, "Dominos." As always, repetition trumps vague misogyny and the vocal hook — "these girls fall like dominos… dominos" — begat a spirited sing along. It's a big, loud and catchy-as-hell cut that stretches an incessant beat to the max. And it's indicative of the band's primary strengths and weaknesses: familiarity, repetitiveness and commonplace lyricism.
When computers start writing bespoke songs for consumers, a lot of them will sound like the Big Pink. Dolling out distortion, massive hooks and hand-pumping anthems, the London combo were tailor-made for new-rock radio. However, despite their best efforts, including more dry ice than an Ed Wood film and a solid light show, they couldn't hide their shortcomings.
On disc, the Big Pink's lyrics largely benefit from inherent anonymity, but when singer Robbie Furze struck a confident pose and belted out lines like "with your arms around me I'm satisfied" ("Tonight") and "poison in my head/god love hurts" ("Velvet") douche chills ensued.
Though the band dressed up their set in an array of effects and loops, too-obvious and strangely incongruent allusions reared their heads. Furze conjured Perry Farrell on "Tonight" and Richard Ashcroft on "Velvet." "Crystal Visions" blended Black Rebel Motorcycle Club balladry (see Howl) with Pink Floyd vocals. Even second-tier Britpop showed up, via the Shed Seven/[email protected] "At War with the Sun."
Regardless of the range of shout-outs, the show reveled in sameness, employing similar structures and recurring sawing guitars. And that's why the crowd shouted along. With their brand of loud, catchy and consistently familiar songs, look for the Big Pink to play car stereos everywhere. Though that's not a terrible fate, it's not terribly exciting either.