Saturday, August 31, 2013

CONCERT REVIEW: Big Country (Guest Post)

Big Country
Captain Hiram's
Sebastian, FL  (8.28.13)
Guest Blogger
Michelle Wilson
returns with her
latest up close,
personal and
concert review.
And this one was
right up her alley!

Being a total ‘80s chick from Long Island, New York and growing up listening to the now-defunct 92.7 WLIR, I’m all about ‘80s alternative music. This was the radio station that gave airplay to alterno acts, many British, when no other local stations would play their music. U2, Gene Loves Jezebel, Depeche Mode, Yaz, The Cure, The Smiths, Simple Minds, The Alarm and Big Country, just to name a few, got their humble starts on WLIR and stations like it all across the country. The radio station supported these bands as they played shows at local small venues. (WLIR does still broadcast an internet alternative radio show.)  I never got to see Big Country back in the day, but I did see The Alarm twice, including a show at the also now-defunct Malibu Nightclub in Lido Beach, New York. The beauty of those shows was the intimate setting. So when I got the text that Big Country was playing a gig at Captain Hiram’s in Sebastian, Florida, followed by the question, was I interested in going, my immediate response was, “Uh, yeah.” 

(Concert photos: Michelle Wilson)

The weather was perfect for the outdoor venue, and even though the crowd was a bit thin, the band performed as if it were a sold-out arena. We literally were up against the stage and had room to breathe. Camped out in front of the bass player with camera in hand, I felt like a teenager again as the band took the stage at 9:10 p.m. and played a full 75-minute set of their high-energy Scottish brand of alternative rock and roll. 

Today’s Big Country is really a conglomerate of three of the aforementioned bands; original Big Country members include only drummer Mark Brzezicki and guitarist Bruce Watson, whose son, guitarist Jamie Watson, joined the band on this tour. In 2001, original lead singer, Stuart Adamson, tragically took his own life, after which original bass player Tony Butler assumed lead vocals. When Butler retired, former bassist for Simple Minds, Derek Forbes, assumed the role, and Mike Peters, frontman for The Alarm, became the new lead singer/acoustic guitar player of Big Country as well as remaining with The Alarm.

The band opened the lively show with “Return,” “1000 Stars” and “In a Broken Promised Land,” the first and third cuts off The Journey, their 2013 release, and the second off their 1983 debut, The Crossing. Mike Peters certainly has held up well both visually and vocally, and he wasted no time paying homage to the late Stuart Adamson. Four songs in, he dedicated  The Crossing’s first single, “Harvest Home,” to Adamson and stressed that there are really six members of the band and that Stuart’s spirit lives on and his presence always is felt on stage. 

From my vantage point, I was smack in front of bass player Derek Forbes, adorned in full kilt and ankle-strap knife holder. I’ve read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series enough times to appreciate the traditional Scottish garb, and Forbes was quick to remind the audience just exactly what was (or was not) going on under that kilt.

After “Look Away” from The Seer and another two tracks from the new album called “Home of the Brave” and “Another Country,” the band segued into “Wonder- land,” which never was on an official album but was released as a single. Then the focus returned to the first album with fan faves “Chance,” and “Fields of Fire,” followed by the encore of “Inwards” and of course, “In a Big Country” with the tremendous drum sounds of Mark Brzezicki to close out the show. For me, this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. They sounded as fresh today as they did back in the day, and Mike Peters could not have been a more perfect and credible replacement. Amazing musicianship, great stage presence, audience interaction, and all-around fun, lively antics made for a top-notch show. Each band member commandeered the mic at the end of the show and thanked the crowd, and a nicer, more gracious bunch of guys you couldn’t hope to meet. I can’t wait for them to come around again.

-Michelle Wilson
(August 2013)

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1 comment:

  1. The lighting, sound system and ambiance of this place are awesome! The clientele is also very diverse! Different ages and races of people grooving to the same tunes.