Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Party Like It's 1983

Yes, I'm a party animal. As always, I will spend New Year's Eve watching Big Country's homecoming show from Barrowland, Dec. 31, 1983. I was already a big fan when I first saw this concert as a mesmerized 13 year old via MTV, at the height of the band's popularity here in America, but what really grabbed me was the atmosphere of Glasgow's legendary ballroom. I had not been to concerts yet, and I was lured into the misguided impression for quite a while that all live outings were that way... the floor stomps, sing-alongs and chants of "here we go." The crowd was so supportive. The lads had just returned from taking the United States by storm, but Stuart and the fellas were their boys, and they were ready to welcome them home.

In 1990, I moved to Chicago to attend college. I took a part-time job in Lincoln Park. There was this shop a few doors down on Clark Street called Video Beat. It's difficult to believe, but all they sold was music video. Heaven. I found a VHS copy of this show from my youth and bought it on the spot. I have rung in the new year with Big Country ever since. (Last year I included Big Country's Dec. 31, 1984, concert from the Edinburgh Playhouse from the new 'At the BBC' box set for good measure.) Some years I have actually timed it so that my clock would strike midnight at the same time as it did on stage all those years ago. The show is well-known for the Deysart and Dundonald Pipe Band sequence at 12 o'clock. I imagine this is a first (and only) for a rock show, and it's a special moment as the importance of ringing in the new year for the Scottish people is vividly illustrated to the rest of the world. Here is the band performing "The Storm," followed by the bagpipe brigade.

I retired my VHS copy of the show in 2009 when the show was released as a CD/DVD combo by Track Records. There are some video extras, including Big Country's appearance at New York's Peppermint Lounge in 1982. I also have the show on CD as a King Biscuit Flower Hour release. Even though I don't really need multiple copies of the same concert, I have hung on to this one for many years because there is an interview with Stuart Adamson about this special concert that didn't make the 2009 reissue.

Interview With Stuart Adamson About NYE Show

I could go on and on, but I have written so many posts about this show since 2009 that I'm starting to bore myself. I'll just add, in case you're new to this blog, one of my biggest dreams came true in 2012 when I finally stepped foot inside Barrowland. I saw Mark, Tony and Bruce, with Mike Peters on lead vocals, perform 'The Crossing' in its entirety. I stomped my feet, sang along and chanted "here we go" just liked I had imagined in my head so many times. I cried a little too. Here are a few quotes from the band, along with a fine moment from the 1983 show. Happy New Year to you all!

"The Barrowland Ballroom is a great rock venue. It became our spiritual home. This gig could go down as one of the best moments in my gigging life. Long live the Barras and all who play in her." -- Tony Butler

"Even just before the gig the atmosphere was electric, and just walking on stage can only be described as being at a cup final and scoring the winning goal." -- Mark Brzezicki

"The excitement going on in the room that night was really a Scottish thing. We tried to make it a huge party, as much as possible." -- Bruce Watson

"That was a memorable show. It was New Year's Eve, and everyone was out of their heads. I remember in the middle of the show - at midnight - an entire bagpipe band came on stage and did a few numbers. It sounded so cool, we decided to keep it in the recording." -- Stuart Adamson

In a Big Country/Auld Lang Syne


drew said...

Love a bit of Big Country. Happy New Year Brian

drew said...

And the atmosphere at the Barrowlands, is quite unique

Scott said...

Hi Brian, as you may have noticed from the front page of Spools I am a huge fan of The Barrowland. There is no better venue anywhere, my first ever gig was there seeing The Cramps back in '85 and I have seen many great bands there over the years. Best Wishes for 2015...

Anonymous said...

The 83 Barrowlands gig is a big fave here, too. Had it on VHS back in the 80s, and then didn't see it for years. Was very happy when the cd/dvd combo came out a few years back. Great stuff.

Brian said...

Scott, So many of my favorite bands are from Scotland, and I have always thought of the Barrowland like a place of worship. Time machine moments for me would be Simple Minds and Aztec Camera circa 1983 or 1984, but there are so many others... You're a lucky man.