Live Review: Big Country, Hammersmith Odeon, 23rd or 24th May, 1990


It's easy to be cynical about Big Country. Out on the road supporting a best of compilation record and admittedly they do appear to be past their sell-by-date. Usually when artists release such compilations it means that they're washed up, about to split, or both. In this business rumours always abound and it remains to be seen whether the new material they've been working on, will ever see the light of day. Perhaps the next album will be their swansong but for now they're up on stage doing what comes most naturally to them.

Stuart Adamson and the boys took us back through "the mists of time," covering their four albums, particularly The Crossing, as well as a few new songs.

The Seer is described by Adamson as "the heavy metal bit," cue acoustic intro. "This is the quiet and interesting section," quips Adamson. I like a band with a sense of humour, especially admidst all this sincere passion. Words like 'passion' and 'spirit' are sometimes misused but it was those emotions which fired up Big Country's best work, particularly evident in songs like Wonderland, In a Big Country and that masterful lament Chance.

Save Me, the recent single, is catchy enough but Adamson's introduction is thought provoking. "If you're an avid Radio 1 listener, you won't have heard it." A comment like that shows up the sorry state of airplay for quality rock music in this country.

Lost Patrol is a defiant rabble rouser and Adamson tartan scarf round the waist, moves like a whirling dervish. This song typifies their twin guitar bagpipe sound.

The more recent material like King of Emotion and a couple of new songs are given an airing and whilst it's dynamic rock you don't get the same feeling of Scottish spirit that pervades their earlier songs. Still, despite the changes and the passing years, Big Country remain down to earth and still retain a special rapport with their loyal fans. It's stretching it a bit, as some have done, to say they've become parodies of themselves.

In fact they leave us with a cover of a Neil Young song, which not only surpasses the original but hints that Big Country might just have a few more strings to their E-bow.

Boys, keep on Rockin' in the Free World!

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
July, 1990
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