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Live Review Big Country

Scottish anthem-merchants take their new line-up out on the road.

Big Country by Neil Chapman (c)

The Scottish mountains backdrop that illuminates the O2 Academy stage leaves you in no doubt as to who is playing tonight. Big Country consists of the original members Bruce Watson (guitars), Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums). Since 2010 they have been joined by Watson’s son Jamie (guitar) and Mike Peters of The Alarm (vocals), who has taken over the vocal duties once filled by the much missed Stuart Adamson.

Big Country never quite reached the pinnacle of success other stadium rockers of the same era, such as U2 or The Waterboys, did. They still share many of the same elements though. Fierce patriotism, rousing choruses, soaring vocals and devout fans all go with the territory. All are in evidence at the O2 tonight.

The band take to the stage to a rousing piped band and take no time building up the atmosphere with ‘Angle Park’ and ‘East of Eden’. Peters struts around the stage and swings the microphone around happily in between raising his hands aloft to encourage the crowd to sing along, which they happily do at every invitation. The set tonight is pulled from across the bands career. As with any ‘greatest hits’ set it is the biggies that receive the warmest response. ‘The Crossing’, ‘In A Big Country’ are the early crowd pleasers and see the fans bouncing happily along.

Peters is a well-practised stadium rocker and knows how to work a crowd. Perhaps the best example of this comes as he makes his way into the centre of the crowd to deliver ‘Chance’, lit by a single white spotlight. It is rousing stuff and the crowd lap it up.

Back on-stage the second half of the set is packed with Big Country classics and is brought to a close with ‘Fields of Fire’. It remains their biggest hit and sends the crowd into a very mature frenzy, with plenty of bouncing around.

Stuart Adamson is remembered in the encore as the band sings the Motown classic ‘Tracks of My Tears’, his favourite song. As much as Adamson may be missed, it should be mentioned that in Alarm frontman Mike Peters, Big Country have found a very complimentary stand-in. ‘Look Away’ and ‘Wonderland’ bring the night to a close. This incarnation of Big Country seems to be a settled line-up and they have plans for more touring. Certainly no one here seemed upset at the prospect as a happy crowd cheered the band from the stage.

Big Country played the O2 Academy in Leeds on Thursday 9th February 2012.

Posted on Wednesday 15th February 2012
Neil Chapman

O2 Academy Leeds

55 Cookridge Street, Leeds, LS2 3AW

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