Not such a big deal

Alice Costelloe and KC Underwood, collectively known as Big Deal, have been getting some very positive press of late. With their debut album 'Lights Out' just hitting the shelves it seems like a good time to check them out down at Manchester's Deaf Institute. A quick headcount reveals a crowd of just over 50, which is enough to create a decent atmosphere although Underwood does have to ask those on raised benches at the back to come down in front of the stage as it was looking rather sparse down there.

They take a minimalist approach to stage craft with no banks of equipment, no back drop and virtually no movement! The first couple of songs are mid paced and don't really do much to help me make my mind up about Big Deal. They come across as rather amateurish, the guitar work is simple but OK and the vocals are a little sloppy if anything. The main reason for this is that they don't sing in harmony or sing separate parts, they both sing the same melody (just octaves apart) and never quite get it in time, so without any drums or percussion to help it's all a bit ragged around the edges. The slower songs are better, having more feel to them and a dark frailty that has a certain appeal. Costelloe sings a few parts on her own and these are much better, she has a good voice that really suits this raw and minimalist kind of music.

Big Deal do have a certain charm and it's perfectly listenable but there really isn't much to make them stand out; the tunes are OK but they aren't particularly memorable and the much touted uncomfortable sexual chemistry fails to materialise at all, due in part to the fact that neither of them move a muscle or look at each other during the performance save for a few words between songs. I really can't decide whether tight harmonies would make a real difference or whether there is something to be said for retaining the rawness. Either way the simple fact is that there is nothing new or outstanding on offer here, there are numerous outfits doing similar music (The XX for one) and there is nothing on display tonight that gives Big Deal the edge over the competition.