Monday, July 29, 2013

Mismatch Made in Heaven

We have all heard of (or even seen) oddball concert bills, but this is one of my favorites. In the summer of 1983, just as Big Country was becoming a behemoth ("In a Big Country" was released in May), the Lotus Eaters joined them as an opening act on their UK tour. Even though the band hadn't even released a single yet, thanks to a wildly successful stint on John Peel's program, there was already quite a bit of buzz surrounding the Lotus Eaters. In fact, that debut single, "The First Picture of You" was released during the second half of this tour. As I'm sure you're aware, that song was a smash, peaking at No. 15 on the UK chart and becoming the most played song on UK radio in 1983.

This is how Peter Coyle, lead singer of the Lotus Eaters, summed up that tour. This is taken from his official Web site:

"The Lotus Eaters supported Big Country on their UK tour. The Big Country boys were really nice people. There was no bullshit there at all, which I really admire and respect them for. Having said that we were the totally wrong band to support them. They were pure unadulterated male rock and roll. We would go on and I would sit cross legged with sandals singing about the wonders of releasing your feminine side. I was singing about quiet spaces in your soul and the boys in the audience where probably thinking when can we get to the bar and obliterate all knowledge out of our minds. As you could imagine the audience must have thought what the fuck is going on! Is this some weird parallel universe? We are born to pogo not to explore our quiet meditative spaces. Especially some messed up male perception of female space."

This, indeed, may seem like a strange set to play together, but I'm proof that you can like Big Country and the Lotus Eaters. I would love to be able to hop aboard the way-back machine for one of these shows. As for today's picks, the Big Country song is "1000 Stars." Although it is one of the deeper cuts from 'The Crossing,' it has always been one of my favorites. This version is taken from a BBC Radio 1 session, recorded on March 9, 1983. Since I'm assuming you have heard "The First Picture of You" quite a few times, I'm going to go with the Lotus Eaters' followup, released a bit later in '83. It was a very minor hit, but it proved to be the last time the lads even had one of those. You can find it on the band's full-length debut, 'No Sense of Sin.' I highly recommend the Cherry Red reissue. It's a fine album on its own, but there are several bonus tracks, including a very good 12" of "Out on Your Own."

Big Country - 1000 Stars (BBC Radio 1) (mp3)
The Lotus Eaters - You Don't Need Someone New (mp3)

Have you seen any strange concert mismatches?


Echorich said...

I paid attention to Big Country enough during the era to see them at Roseland, NYC on that tour, but I can not for the life of me remember who opened up for them...I want to say it was Nash The Slash - and that would be a brilliant mismatch, but I just can not remember...where is that ticket stub!
As an aside and maybe my own mismatch combination, The night Big Country played Roseland, Spandau Ballet was playing The Savoy 7 blocks away. As it happened, Roseland gigs were always early and Savoy gigs alway late, so my friends and I bought tickets to both and managed to not miss a single minute of Spandau Ballet - no idea who opened up for them, but it was likely some unknown NYC area band.
As I remember, Big Country sounded great, but I just wasn't that moved. This was partly due, likely to the fact that I was anticipating seeing SB perform Chant No.1 for the first time...

As for The Lotus Eaters, once again Brian you brought a big smile to my face. In the early 80's I could not get enough of anything coming out of Liverpool...It started with Echo, Teardrop Explodes and my hero Pete Wylie's Wah!, but Lotus Eaters, OMD, Dalek I, and especially The Lotus Eaters were all consumed with glee.
You are only the 3rd American I have ever even known to mention the band! I of course shared them with loads of friends on mixtapes from the era.

Brian said...

Wow, Echorich, what a night of concert going you had. I didn't know you were into Spandau Ballet. I have quite a collection of the band's 12" singles. I'll break them out and play one on here in your honor really soon. Chant No.1 is my favorite, as a matter of fact. I suggest you go play that and Haircut 100's Favourite Shirts back to back. I find myself doing that on mixes all the time. They go together really well.

Echorich said...

Ok, so this is getting weird Brian...Chant No. 1/Favorite Shirts ALWAYS ended up on mixtapes together...I would ad that that mixtape would have Blue Rondo A La Turk and Pigbag on it as well...and for good measure Tears Are Not Enough by ABC... the New Romatic/New Wave era was so "programmable!"

jc said...

I saw Lotus Eaters support Big Country.....

And as to the question of concert first ever gig saw The Police headline with The Cramps as support act.

And how about Cocteau Twins opening for The Fall back in 1983 at a tiny venue in Glasgow??

Brian said...

JC, you old dog, you have some great examples here, and that's quite a first-ever gig.