Central Station, Wrexham
23rd October 2013
Scottish rockers from the 80s Big Country are currently on tour in the UK. They played Wrexham a couple of nights ago and Louder Than War’s Kevin A. Steen went along with photographer Brent Jones.
I am back in Wrexham tonight following a trip here to see Johnny Marr last week, this time for Big Country. It’s another capacity crowd at the venue.
In true Big Country fashion the full blooded line up take to the stage.
Welcomed on with the sound of bagpipes accompanied with a marching beat, they are met with a rapturous welcome. The die hard fans are out in force in Wrexham tonight.
Bruce & Jamie Watson on guitars, the father and son team who, throughout the set, play off each other, pranking about and throughly enjoying themselves and the connection the music provides.
Mike Peters, The Alarm frontman, is on acoustic guitar and lead vocals; Derek Forbes, formally of Simple Minds, is on bass & Mark Brzezicki on drums is the only surviving member with Bruce Watson following the retirement of tony Butler who was replaced by Derek Forbes.
The band have always had an incredibly loyal following. Even with the line up changes throughout the years, this is still the band & the songs that captured your youth. Some fans travelled as far as from Portsmouth for tonight’s gig.
The band open with ‘Havest Home’ closely followed by ‘Return’, immediately sending the crowd jumping for joy.
The bassist Derek Forbes is patriotically donning a kilt, only fitting as the bagpipe tinged guitar rings out from the guitars.
This is then continued after an emphatic response from the crowd with the track ‘1000 Stars’, an old classic that gets the crowd fully united in a mass singsong.
Mike Peters, the Welsh wizzard, declares that he is delighted to be back in Wrexham and he has us under the spell he cast tonight, even if it is among Scottish company.
Derek Forbes plays an enigmatic bass, mixing in with the guitar playing of the Watson’s. This reaches euphoria that hits the crowd who are eager to see a solo from Watson. They get their wish, as he teeters on the edge of the stage, fingers rifling up and down the fret board. ‘Look Away’ blows the audience away. Their liveliest performance of the night gets the whole crowd dancing and jumping, lights flashing as Peters screams out “Hide your eyes from the land where I lie cold”, which is sung straight back at him.
Playing other golden oldies like ‘Restless Natives’ and ‘Fields Of Fire’, Fields Of Fire is met with frantic clapping and singalong while that classic bagpipe guitar rings away into the night.
Peters grins, before the band resumes normal service by belting out ‘Chance’.
Newer material is introduced to the set which is warmly welcomed by the crowd, although not so crazily. ‘Another Country’, the 2011 single getsneveryone swaying to its isolated glow.
They leave the stage, and the crowd take over. The fan base that follows them everywhere begin singing ‘Lost Partol’ until the band re-emerge. Not initially in the set, the band, led by Peter,s join the crowd in a mass singalong to a beautiful redidition.
We are thanked once again as Big Country close their set, and we can pretty much guess which song ends the evening. As ‘In a Big Country’ commences the audience reach their drunken peak, sliding and slipping all around the floor.
Incensed, the crowd wildly applaud tonight’s heroes as they finish, chanting for more. However Big Country depart, leaving us with the hope that this current line-up will march on an STAY ALIVE.
Tonights set list in order.
Broken Promise land
Home of the brave
Fields Of Fire
Encore included (with additional track. )
Last ship sails
In a big country
All words by Kevin A Steen and all photos by Brent Jones. More writing by Kevin on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.