When I think of New Year's Eve, I think of one band and one show. After a lengthy and successful tour of America, Big Country returned to Scotland for a homecoming show at Glasgow's Barrowlands on Dec. 31, 1983. This was at the peak of the band's popularity and, thankfully, MTV broadcast the gig to the United States. For those of you who haven't seen the concert, 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 1984 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. Then Big Country returned to play several more songs, including all four singles from their debut album, as well as a sweet rendition of the Motown classic "Tracks of My Tears."
The consensus of Big Country is that the "Barras" is the band's "spiritual home" and that this show, in particular, was really something special. I have to agree. That's why I watch it every New Year's Eve as if I'm about to ring in 1984. I'll be thinking about the band more than usual this Dec. 31 because the surviving members of Big Country have reunited to play O2 ABC in Glasgow. Yes, things will be different this time around. Stuart Adamson, sadly, is no longer with us, but I think it takes real courage for Tony Butler, Mark Brzezicki and Bruce Watson to take the stage without him. Mike Peters of the Alarm will be taking lead-vocal duties. Although I won't be there to hear the results, I will be around in spirit. Good luck, fellas.
The Dec. 31, 1983, show was out of print for donkey's years but, as of last year, it is now available as a DVD/CD edition. Take my word for it. The sound and picture is fantastic. Order here. So, I know I'm going to have a great New Year's Eve. I hope you do, too. Stay alive!
Big Country - In a Big Country (mp3)
Big Country - Auld Lang Syne (mp3)
Interview with Stuart Adamson about the show (mp3)
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