Big Country coming home - reviewed by Fish
Where would be the ideal place to spend New Years Eve this year? In Edinburgh for the big spectacular Hogmanay party? At home with my family cosily watching TV till 2011 arrives? Nah! Why? Because the lure of Big Country's homecoming was too much of a dangling carrot for me to resist! Support was from The Law who performed their set ably, with little fuss and a degree of confidence, which largely went un-noticed as everyone seemed to be discussing the headliners.
"It'll be weird", "I saw them in 2007 and it wasn't the same" - "Who's on vocals" were the sound bytes I heard most often - along with "It's not a gig, it's a celebration" reflecting the general consensus of those around me.
The snowy Scottish mountain backdrop was looming large as Big Country took to the stage to be greeted by a mixture of cheers and polite clapping. Guitarist Bruce Watson and his son Jamie were wearing matching checked shirts, Tony Butler on bass was all in black save for a checked scarf and Mark Brzezicki on drums mainly invisible due to his big drum kit and low drum stool set-up. I hadn't done any research so was unsure if Tony would take on the vocals again (as per 2007) or if there had been anyone drafted in to take the slot. To my surprise on walked Mike Peters (The Alarm/Los Mondo Bongo) to greet the crowd! The band began with "A Thousand Stars" which immediately sent shivers down my spine but I still I wondered to myself if Mike Peters would really be able to pull this off.
On first listen I reckoned Mike Peters to be "no bad" (as they say here in Glasgow) he was deputising for one of Scotland's favourite departed sons and the crowd were definitely appreciating his efforts. Big Country then went straight into "Harvest Home" with its distinctive Scottish riff. I have to admit that this actually brought a tear to my eyes. Snapping away furiously in the pit I could feel the joy and emotion from the crowd behind me hit like a ton of bricks! It was good to see Bruce and Jamie playing together as they did with The Skids earlier in the year, only this time round in Bruce's band.
There were so many highlights strewn around this set with "Look Away", "Porroh Man" and my personal favourite "Inwards" among them. Just pier to "Porroh Man" Mike Peters paid tribute to Stuart Adamson, explaining Stuart's love of the book "Pollock And The Porroh Man" by H.G.Wells before he read out a quote from the book for Stuart.
I've seen the ABC jumping before but never like this - the whole building felt like it was hopping down Sauchiehall Street...
The band ran through long versions of "East Of Eden", "Steeltown" and the non-album single "Wonderland", all the way through Peters checking the lyrics perched on a music stand close to his mic. Bruce & Jamie frequently leaned on each other making the classic twin guitarists shapes and Tony occasionally stumbling due to his bass lead becoming entangled in his pedal array while constantly moving around the stage. Next came a truly epic moment as the strains of "Fields Of Fire" begun. I've seen the ABC jumping before but never like this - the whole building felt like it was hopping down Sauchiehall Street with the energy from both band and crowd. The place went wild, literally. A moment I'll never forget, trust me on that one!
Once the ABC had settled back into its original foundations the band said their thank you's and left the stage. Moments later they were back for their first encore starting with "Lost Patrol" and then many peoples fave BC song "Chance". I looked around at the crowd during this one and wasn't surprised to see many a streaming tear from the singing, smiling throng of bodies as they attempted to drown out the band.
Another brief departure from the stage and then they were back for the final time.
"Eiledon" was the penultimate song and finally, what else but "In A Big Country"? Awesome is an often over-used word in this day and age but there simply is no other word I can use to describe the overall feeling I was left with at the end of this gig. Big Country played virtually note perfect all night, they were on fire, full of passion, energy and craft, Mike Peters did a wonderful job, he was very humble, did not take the limelight and delivered what people were hoping for. As he stated to the ABC Hogmanay crowd "Big Country have come home!"
Emotional simply doesn't cover it.
Awesome is an often over-used word in this day and age but there simply is no other word I can use to describe the overall feeling I was left with at the end of this gig.