Search This Blog

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Big Country - Glasgow ABC - 31/12/10

The road to Glasgow isn't a long one, but it can seem so.
I can't recall the last time we set off and had a smooth uninterrupted journey.
Road works and tailbacks seem to be the norm and more often than not we can find ourselves reaching a point where everything just grinds to a snails pace.
Usually it's just as the glittering lights of the big city are within our grasp.
As we slow down and join the end of the line of pollution spewing tin cans that imprison increasingly irate drivers Glasgow likes to sit there, all ablaze with it's myriad lights illuminating the skyline, and tease us.
Promising a night of glitter and glamour........but not just yet.
So it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves hurtling through the night with pretty much a clear road ahead of us.
Our happiness at our good fortune was rather short lived though when we realized that the lack of traffic was due to a man attempting to leap from a bridge and take his own life.
We must have been one of the last few cars to have managed to miss the road blocks.
We passed directly under the bridge and witnessed the one single solitary policeman standing close to where he was perched, and presumably doing his utmost to to assure the guy that while 2010 might have offered little, that in the morning it's 2011, a new day, a new year, and with that a future that is unwritten.
It was a bit disconcerting as he could have quite easily decided to jump right at that precise moment.
I sincerely hope that he was talked down. I'd like to think he was.
Surely such a public display is more a cry for help than a real attempt to end it all?
Morbidly it has a strange symmetry to tonight though, as Kel and myself are heading to Glasgow to see Big Country play.
A band who have reformed, with Mike Peters at the helm, to play a limited amount of dates that are designed to to pay homage and celebrate the work of Stuart Adamson, their front man who sadly succeeded in taking his own life.
It's as if we are witnessing a reminder of how fragile and fleeting life is playing out all around us.
This realization can be only approached in two ways. One is to wallow in the the past and cement yourself in dreams of what life could have been, or instead grab life by the lapels, pull it to you, and dance around the room gripping it in a warm embrace.
For me I will hopefully always see the worth in the second option.
Onwards to the show though.
“The Law” are the band who have secured the opening slot for the night and for a change the promoters seem to have hit on a band worthy of taking the stage prior to the headliner.
There a retro swagger to them. The guitarist looks like a young fresh faced Keith Richards while the bassist is all Tommy era Daltry, with The Who comparisons going further as he plays some thundering bass lines that Entwhistle would have been proud of.
Vocally it's a bit of a mixed bag that swerves from touching on Kaiser Chiefs/Libertines territory at its lowest ebb to more impressively rebooting a sixties mod sound that edges into the lysergenic period of experimentation.
So laddish and cerebral in equal measure I suppose. Lets call it the new wave of the new wave of the new wave of mod and lets see if that catches on.
They are a cocktail of the sound of Liverpool in the sixties, Manchester in the nineties and present day Dundee.
Pretty potent stuff.
In fact I was enamoured enough to go and buy their debut album and DVD enhanced single from the merch stand. So make of that what you will.
Few people are however there for a fix of The Law.
It's Big Country that's the draw for the evening and the swelling crowd are simply killing time until their heroes appear and it is to a thunderous reception when they do take to the stage.
It strikes me that Mike Peters looks like a rabbit in the headlights.
I'm used to seeing the supremely confident frontman leading the Alarm, playing solo, or fronting Dead Men Walking.
It's obvious that nerves are at play and the realization of just how big the boots are he has stepped into is still something he is having to come to grips with.
It's not that he falls short in talent or charisma to carry it off, but more so that he is aware that the crowd have to be receptive to what the band and he are trying to do.
It's a tall order as after all this is a sort of homecoming show and Hogmanay, Glasgow and Big Country were made for each other.
It would be a daunting task for anyone. The pressure to deliver must be immense.
The uncertainty snaps at the heels of 1000 Stars, but begins to abate during Harvest Home and is vanquished during Driving to Damascus. Three songs in and a comfort zone is found.
The new found confidence is no doubt rooted in the reaction of the crowd.
Any minor mistakes or slight stumbles are going to be unconditionally forgiven.
Big Country and Mike Peters needn't have worried at all about what sort of reception they would get. People are there to see them play the songs they love and to an individual know that the memory of Stuart is not being sullied.
For many this is as good as it gets.
The Teacher rushes past in a blur and the floor is bouncing as the crowd jump in unison and punch their hands in the air.
The brakes are off now and Bruce and his son Jamie are sweating buckets giving it their all. Tony is pogoing on the spot and deftly plucking at his bass while Mark plays like a machine.
Mike Peters is in the eye of the hurricane.
A couple of songs later and with a run of Inwards, East of Eden and Steeltown it is apparent that the songs could lift the roof off.
It's also very obvious that nothing could derail this party.
Wonderland and Fields of Fire fly past in a blur and with a final push the band exit the stage leaving everyone breathless, stunned and praying that an encore is on the cards.
It is, and the atmosphere is electric as Lost Patrol and Chance are played, but that's not enough.
With the crowd baying for more they return yet again and finish the night with Restless Natives and the song everyone had been waiting for “In a Big Country.”
It's the icing on the cake for everyone there.
A resounding end to a memorable night. A night that will not be easily forgotten by anyone who attended.
For myself, gig wise it is the perfect show to finish the year on. The last few weeks have thrown up some perfect nights out musically and this managed easily to continue that trend.
That's 2010 over. 2011, bring it on.


  1. I would so see this line-up. Thanks for the great write-up.

  2. They are now confirmed to be playing "The Gathering" festival and there is talk about further dates. So keep your fingers crossed.

  3. Great review and what a night.Mike looked nervous at the start and he was taking a bit of stick on some forums prior to the opening night but i felt he did really well and as the night went on he grew in confidence.
    It was a perfect end to a long giging year for myself.
    I can't wait for the Gathering now as i feel that 1000 Alarm fans will give the band a fantastic reception and show them that the music world has missed their music

  4. The naysayers prior to and post gig are all people who weren't going to the gig.
    It's a bit like slagging off a television show you have never seen.
    I don't really get that. Now if someone posted here saying they were at the gig and thought it was crap from start to finish and Mike was a poor substitute I would disagree, but respect their opinon.
    It's a whole different ball game when the comments are rooted in ignorance though.
    Did you see how many young people were there. 14 to say 20 year olds. There is no way they could ahve seen Big Country first time around, so this was a great opportunity for them to hear the music played live and with passion.
    I for one am not going to knock that.

  5. Iam in the video well ma hair is.
    what a great gig to end the year with