Salisbury City Hall, Wiltshire

Big Country

In 1985 as a teenage schoolboy my musical tastes of Madness and Iron Maiden where suddenly interrupted by a totally original; dual guitar, effect-laden sound. This sound sent me dashing to the nearest “Our Price” after listening to a concert broadcast on a crackly medium wave radio. I purchased the albums “The Crossing” (with the green Cover) and “Steeltown” (Gatefold Edition) which both got played to death on my carry along suitcase-style record player.

Big Country arrived in my life in a big way when in 1986 they came to my hometown of Poole for the “Seer” tour. The gig of course blew me away and many more such concerts would follow. The loss of Stuart was something that was very difficult to come to terms with, a person who I really admired and thankfully met numerous times.

The Alarm’s frontman Mike Peters, another hero of mine joined a new line-up of Big Country for a short lived revival; but despite doing his best, things did not work out. Original members Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki wanted to keep up the momentum of the revival and recruited a new vocalist Simon Hough, who has a similar vocal range to Stuart. The band have embarked on a tour of the UK to mark the 30th Anniversary of the release of the “Steeltown” album. Tonight the tour rolls into Salisbury and I get my first nervous chance to see if Simon Hough can do Stuart Adamson’s legacy proud.

The Pigeons
The Pigeons 12

Big Country are preceded by a local Wiltshire band called The Pigeons who arrive on stage in a somewhat shambolic way, announcing that this would be their last gig as a band. The four lads performed a semi-acoustic set swapping instruments along the way. There is some really good quality songwriting amongst their set, with some infectious choruses that the crowd begin to sing along to after the first run through. The set included the songs “Tough Love”, “Death Ray” and the last song “Pale Imitation” which gained the band a fair bit of positive appreciation from the audience.

The now 5 piece 2014 version of Big Country arrive on stage to a massive welcome from the excited crowd. The first 45 minutes or so of the set is taken up by playing the whole of the “Steeltown” album in full, including some rarely heard live songs like “Girl With Grey Eyes” and “Tall Ships Go”. To be fair to Simon his voice is so much better suited to these songs than Mike Peters and I am pleasantly surprised by his performance. The stars of the show are the Father and son combo of Bruce and Jamie Watson, who reproduce some of Adamson’s best work with some real style.

Big Country
Big Country 1234

The hits arrive with a full energetic onslaught with excellent versions of “Look Away”, “Wonderland”, “In A Big Country” and “Chance” which included an emotional audience-led chorus. (Ex) Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes even treated us to a short instrumental blast of “Waterfront” after been egged on by the rest of the band. These Big Country songs have certainly stood the test of time and by the size of the crowd here tonight, many people have been touched by the music of this band.

The band leave the stage after a great 90 minute set, but soon return after the crowd demand more with the epic “Fields of Fire” being delivered in the most powerful, passionate way. The twin guitars light up once again for the last song of the night “Inwards”. The atmosphere in the place is just electric, giving the band great pleasure that here tonight they had delivered well beyond expectations.

Flame of the West
East of Eden
Where the Rose Is Sown
Come Back to Me
Tall Ships Go
Girl With Grey Eyes
The Great Divide
Just a Shadow

Harvest Home
River of Hope
Look Away
Waterfront – Intrumental
In a Big Country
Fields of Fire



Words, Pictures & Videos By Dave Chinery(Chinners)

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