Wednesday, February 15, 2012

'The Crossing' to Glasgow (Part 2)

Big Country
Feb. 6, 2012

I had traveled quite a bit more than "400 miles!" (3,600, actually) and was about to see my favorite band from my youth at the one venue on the planet I had always dreamed of seeing them. So, why the rock in the pit of my stomach as I chanted "here we go!" before the show? Somewhere, deep in my subconscious, I think I had doubts about a lineup without Stuart Adamson.

What I quickly realized was the Alarm's Mike Peters wasn't replacing Adamson as frontman so much as he was paying homage to him. This show was a celebration of the 30th anninversary of 'The Crossing' at Big Country's spiritual home, and Peters got it. His admiration for Adamson and Big Country was palpable. Between songs, Peters shared stories and recited his favorite lyrics. It was obvious Adamson would not be forgotten, and it made my butterflies fly away. If there are any fans out there that fear this lineup is no different than J.D. Fortune as the ill-fated frontman for INXS, you can relax. Adamson and Peters are kindred spirits.

Peters didn't just bring fine vocals to the party. He brought enthusiasm and a stage presence, sans Adamson, Big Country sorely needed. Granted, the talents of Bruce Watson, Tony Butler and Mark Brzezicki are almost without peer. After Adamson's death, however, the shows they did together seemed like a struggle. With the addition of Peters and Watson's son, Jamie, they are, once again, a cohesive unit capable of performing the classics we love and producing new material worthy of the Big Country name.

If I could have created the setlist, it wouldn't have been much different than what they played. Like so many shows from their heyday, they opened with "Angle Park." I would have liked a little more 'Steeltown,' particularly "Where the Rose Is Sown," "Come Back to Me" and "Just a Shadow," but I was happy to hear "East of Eden." There are rumors of 'Steeltown' shows in 2014. Perhaps I need to be patient. If asked, I would have requested obscure B-side "Balcony," and I was shocked they played it. In hindsight, however, it didn't translate well live and slowed the momentum.

I had goosebumps when the opening drums to "In a Big Country" kicked in and Peters shouted, "This is 'The Crossing!'" This is as good a time as any to talk about the crowd. Barrowland was packed, and for many of this decidedly "older" crowd this was like taking a time machine to Big Country's famous Dec. 31, 1983, show there. From the very first "Shout!" the "kids" were bouncing. The songs of 'The Crossing' are anthems, and we all sang along to every word, much like we did to the album as lads in our bedrooms three decades ago. The highlight from 'The Crossing' portion of the show was "Chance." As you will see in the video below, Peters sang it from the middle of the room... not more than 10 feet from me. Don't laugh. That dot back there in the photo above really is me.

I teared up a bit during the encore, particularly during "Tracks of My Tears." Adamson loved playing that cover, and he crooned it to the Barrowland crowd at the New Year's Eve show all those years ago. I wondered if there were others around me thinking of him at that moment. Yes, this night belonged to Peters and the rest of Big Country, but Adamson was never far away.

Big Country - Harvest Home (mp3)
Live from Barrowland, Dec. 31, 1983

Set List: Big Country from Barrowland, Feb. 6, 2012
Angle Park
East Of Eden
Another Country
The Crossing
Restless Natives
In A Big Country
1000 Stars
The Storm
Harvest Home
Lost Patrol
Close Action
Fields Of Fire
Tracks Of My Tears
Look Away

Video: "In a Big Country," "Chance" and "Fields of Fire" from Barrowland, Feb. 6, 2012

See Also: 'The Crossing' to Glasgow (Part 1)

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