The Brook, Southampton

Big Country

It’s Thursday night in Southampton and a sold-out Brook welcomes Big Country in good voice from the outset. There’s no support tonight so they take stage at the unfeasibly early time of 8.20pm. They open with “1000 Stars” and feel their way in gradually. I won’t confess to knowing most of the set, unlike my photographer who could class himself as one of their biggest fans. “Flame Of The West” comes next as a few late arrivals join the throng at the front. “East Of Eden” sees Bruce Watson (guitar) take centre stage as chief shapeshifter and gurner! He is in an energetic mood and uses every inch afforded him. Son Jamie (guitar) to his right is no less static, bringing the youth edge to the fore in their performance. The band really get everyone onside early during “Look Away”, the first of many big singalong’s. Simon Hough (lead vox) encourages the crowd interaction and is not disappointed. The audience may be mostly in their fifties but tonight are in an energetic mood.

One cannot help but realise how important Big Country still is to so many – as I look around the room people are singing back every word to every song. Bruce again takes centre stage while recalling the time in Stockholm when they met Abba’s Benny, and mooted the idea of using their Polar Studios to record “Steeltown” – the rest, as they say, is history!

Set highlight “Chance” once again lifts the roof off this wonderful venue and the crowd start jumping. “Tall Ships Go” precedes crowd favourite “In A Big Country”, which even this minor fan experiences a “hairs on the back of the neck” moment! Songs come and go but some have a certain resonance, this being one. One hilarious moment during the evening was when Jamie got his shoe stuck to his setlist – he frantically tries to shake it free before a helpful punter assists him! “Wonderland” is literally wonderful but they save the best ’til last with a “Fields Of Fire/Whiskey In The Jar” mash-up, which is terrific. Despite their longevity I only saw the band for the first time last year and this song really is (for me) their finest. It seems a staple of the live show now that the elder statesmen of this musical era are including a mash-up in their sets, long may it continue. Simon smiles happily while taking on Lynott’s lyrics and this happy crowd duly oblige with enthusiasm. An eighty-minute set comes to a close as they take the plaudits.

Big Country
Big Country 12345678

The band return for a one-song encore of “Restless Natives” and that folks was that. Until; step forward Mark Brzezicki (drums), to do an impromptu band introduction. Not just any band introduction; but one with added quips and stories, bestowing the musical ability of newer members Scott (bass) and older incumbents Bruce; and final recognition of absent friends namely the late great Stuart Adamson. The band take a final bow before exiting the stage.

Another great show for the purists but for me I have to question why no support? There are young, exciting bands aplenty in this town who would give their right arm for this sort of exposure. And lastly the one song encore – surely Big Country have enough in the back catalogue to flesh it out to three or four songs? Gripes aside this was a decent show from a band who have plenty in the tank and are not about to throw in the towel anytime soon. And with Anniversaries coming thick and fast their audience will I’m sure to continue to support their live shows.

Set List
1000 Stars
Flame of the West
East of Eden
Look Away
Lost Patrol
Just a Shadow
Tall Ships Go
In a Big Country
Where The Rose is sown
Come Back to Me
Fields of Fire/Whiskey in the Jar

Restless Natives


Words by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures & Video by David Chinery (Chinners)

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