We never expected it to end like this.The microphone is passed around each member of the group who talks to the audience. Crowds don’t like this sort of thing usually, as anyone who has witnessed the stampede for the exits when Lars Ulrich starts this at Metallica gigs will testify. But then it’s Bruce Watson’s turn.
An original member of the band, what is he going to say? Something profound? Something cheesy? Maybe, but what he actually does is this: He surveys the front row and says to a fella “christ, you have better tits than my wife…you certainly have better tattoos!”We do this stuff better than Americans, don’t we?
Strangely this most British of reactions is in keeping with this most British of bands. Like a lot of the best groups, Big Country have a definable sound, whether it is “Return” from the new album, or “Look Away” from their glorious past, you can listen to it and know instantly who it is.
Big Country deserve credit for many things, not least of which is the dignified way they have handled their comeback, but also their approach to touring. They have been out nonstop this year and this tour is taking them all the way from Lands End To John ‘O’ Groats, but finally they deserve praise for their absolutely brilliant “The Journey” album – their first for 14 years.With Mike Peters of The Alarm handling vocal duties they have safe pair of lungs who knows exactly how to front this band. Between them Country have got together a collection of songs that not only respects their legacy, but can also see them looking forward to the future.
“…Journey’s” lead track “In A Broken Promise Land” – which is dedicated to former lead singer Stuart Adamson tonight - is one of six songs they play from it, it is perhaps the best, but all of them are excellent and go down well with the packed crowd, who helpfully are not just here for some sort of nostalgia trip.There are plenty of old tunes though, and in particular “Field Of Fire” gains an astonishing reaction from the audience, before the encore, which includes “Last Ship Sails” and the ubiquitous “In A Big Country” are received with equal rabidity.
Which brings us back to mics being passed around. In addition to Murray’s offering former Simple Minds man Derek Forbes, who now handles Bass duties, is wearing a kilt when he tells us he is a Black Country boy at heart, but perhaps the best way to sum this up – given what happened to Adamson and how Peters battled Leukaemia - is simply these two words, uttered by most of the members: Stay Alive.
Life affirming and brilliant, this is probably what you should take away from this evening, give or take an unexpected ending.