BIG HIT Alarm star Mike shines as he signs up with the Country club

News Of The World – 9th January 2011 by Tim Barr

big-country-review-tim-barr

SUBMERGED beneath a heaving crowd, Mike Peters is pulling off the neat trick of still managing to sing…a bit.

And when the spotlight finally picks him out, midway through his extended stage dive, it’s clear he’s having the time of his life.

Yet it’s hard to think of a more daunting venue for only his second show with the reinvigorated Big Country.

Stepping into the shoes of the late, great Stuart Adamson, one of Dunfermline’s favourite sons, before a hometown crowd takes a special something.

But tonight, in a dazzling display that reminds us of their special accomplishments as a musical force, the Welshman seems to be staking his claim as one of post punks all time great frontmen.

While the band, powered by drummer Mark Brzezicki, drill through hit after hit, including stunning versions of Harvest Home and Just A Shadow, he proves a neat match for Adamson’s signature vocal.

And in terms of the energy he expends, relentlessly vibing up the crowd, no one could ask for more.

“This is a real international gathering,” he says at one point, reading out the names of fans who’ve travelled here from all over the world.

At another, he reveals he’s spent the hours before the gig travelling the local area, visiting places like Crossgates and Townhill that have played a key role in Big Country’s history.

When he offers a salute to Stuart, while knotting a Dunfermline scarf into his belt, the electric atmosphere cranks up a notch.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that this brilliant venue is an almost perfect setting for rock ‘n’ roll thrills but the band themselves, led by co founder and guitarist Bruce Watson are on sensational form.

Bassist Tony Butler is exceptional on a tearing version of Look Away that’s one of tonight’s undoubted highlights, offering further proof of Big Country’s abilities when it comes to penning classic guitar rock, littered with memorable hooks.

Meanwhile Jamie Watson turns in some impressive rhythm guitar work on the epic East Of Eden, another early standout.

Much of the set is drawn form their 1980s heyday, but as they plot their way through a running order packed with king-size singalong moments, the songs sound as fresh as if they’d been penned yesterday.

The spine tingling Inwards, surely one of post punks most emotive treasures, gets pulses racing, it’s jagged guitar riff spiralling underneath Adamson’s heartbroken lyric.

Hearing it back, in the company of superbly crafted songs like Wonderland, it’s not difficult to figure out why Big Country were such a welcome fixture in the charts.

But it’s obvious they’re winding up for a big finish, and when it comes, it hits with all the force of a runaway train.

Cramming a blistering Fields Of Fire, Chance and of course, In A Big Country into the final quarter, they deliver a brilliant sprint to the tape that suggests there is plenty of mileage left in their creative tanks.

“Thank you for looking after me in there,” Peters tells the fans.

Judging by the response, he’ll be welcome back anytime.

TIM BARR

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