Monday, November 23, 2009

Big Country Chronicles: 'Live at Barrowland 1983 (The Home Coming)'

Big Country's big sound made them a terrific live band. Thus, they recorded scores of live albums during its nearly two decades. The consensus among fans seems to be the best ones are 'Live Without the Aid of a Safety Net' from 1993, 'Come Up Screaming' from 2000, and this one, 'Live at Barrowland, 1983/84'. These concerts all have one thing in common: Each one was recorded on Big Country's home turf, Glasgow's famous Barrowland.

For me, the New Year's Eve 1983 show is my favorite live recording. Big Country was so hot at the time MTV aired it in its entirety, and the 'King Biscuit Flower Hour' broadcast it as well. The band had just returned home as heroes after three wildly successful months touring America. The general-admission, standing-room Barrowlands was packed to capacity with young Scots ready to celebrate the holiday. The lads ripped through four songs from 'The Crossing' and two new songs that would appear in '84 on the 'Wonderland' EP. Then the clock struck 12. In an absolute first for any any show I have seen, the band gave the stage to a bagpipe clan called the Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band. It's a very Scottish moment, and the raucous rock-n-roll crowd absolutely ate it up, kilts and all. Big Country returns several minutes later to play several more songs, including all four singles from their debut album and a sweet rendition of the Motown classic "Tracks of My Tears".

Although I have owned the show on CD since King Biscuit released it in 1997, after the appearance on MTV, I didn't see the show again until I found it at a brilliant store called Video Beat. I have no idea if the music-video shop still exists, but I rented a VHS copy of the show in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago in early 1990. The next time I saw it was last week... some 20 years later. That's because this past September Track Records released a DVD/CD combo of the show (pictured above), and Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! just bought it for my birthday. The import has a couple of extras as well, including extensive footage of a live show they did in 1982 at New York's Peppermint Lounge. They weren't quite as sharp as they would be a year later, but it's still fascinating, entertaining and a must for fans. You even get to see guitarist Bruce Watson take over lead vocals for a bit.

For your listening pleasure, I have four songs from the New Year's show. I have also included a short interview with Stuart Adamson that can be found at the end of the King Biscuit CD. Sadly, that is not included on the Track Records version. Check out a little video below, too. Believe it or not, this concludes Big Country Chronicles. For me, listening to every single, B-side, demo, BBC appearance and live album between 1982 and 1986 has been a real walk down memory lane. It really reminded me why this was my favorite band during those seminal early-teen years.

Big Country - Close Action (mp3) (Live at Barrowland 1983)
Big Country - Fields of Fire (mp3) (Live at Barrowland 1983)
Big Country - Harvest Home (mp3) (Live at Barrowland 1983)
Big Country - In A Big Country/Auld Lang Syne (mp3) (Live at Barrowland 1983)
Bonus: Interview with Stuart Adamson about concert

See Also:
Big Country Chronicles: 'Rarities IV'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Radio 1 Sessions'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Hold the Heart'
Big Country Chronicles: 'One Great Thing'
Big Country Chronicles: 'The Teacher'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Look Away'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Just a Shadow'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Where the Rose Is Sown'
Big Country Chronicles: 'East of Eden'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Wonderland'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Chance'
Big Country Chronicles: 'In A Big Country'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Fields of Fire'
Big Country Chronicles: 'Harvest Home'

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