Big Country Stormed The Studio And Won!

Big Country – The Studio, Auckland, March 24th 2018

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of The Crossing Big Country finished their Australasian tour in fine form in Auckland last night to the glee of the packed house at The Studio.

The opening act of the night was a local band called Tablefox. Led by the charismatic Clinton Bell, TableFox belted out some great tracks from their latest album You and I Will Find A Way  and their 2015 album Objects. The five-piece band went through their short set list in style and plenty of gusto.

Stand out track was their opener Something Better and their nod to David Bowie with their rendition of Heroes was a surprise and a worthy mention.

If you haven’t heard these guys before check them out when they play next. They are well worth a look.  I was really impressed.

The crowd was well warmed up by now (especially with some excellent 80s tracks to singalong with) and it wasn’t a long wait before a wall of sound crashed into the Studio and smashed into the packed house.  Big Country hit the stage in a formation (four guitars lined up like gunslingers) that you knew was going to deliver even before the first chords of the appropriately chosen song The Storm came out of the very, very loud sound system.

These boys were here to have fun and the crowd expected nothing less.  1000 Stars, and Look Away followed and only amped up the audience who clearly were fanatical supporters.  I was thinking the band members, particularly the originals Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki, would never have thought they would be celebrating the original release of The Crossing 35 years ago, let alone here on our shaky isles.

Not withstanding some technical issues for Bruce Watson and his guitar, (where was the roadie when you needed him?) the signature sound he developed somehow brought to life the Celtic violin, and the pipes through his guitar was fantastic.

A nod has to go out to the whole band for the moment when a little of the momentum could have been lost because of the guitar issues: bass player Scott Whitley jumped in and started slappin the bass to Play That Funky Music White Boy and was joined by lead singer Simon Hough which kept the crowd in excellent spirits.  Simon was excellent by the way.  His vocals were clean and very much to the spirit of Stuart Adamson, the original lead singer who passed away a number of years ago.

The gig raced by and the crowd enjoyed every moment and interaction with the band.  It was just like seeing some old friends again, which has been a bit of a recurring theme to the concerts I have been reviewing recently, but there is no better way to put it: Big Country were loud, passionate, and just plain having fun which is all you can ask for.

Closing with Chance, Wonderland, Fields of Fire, and Valleys left the punters in a pool of sweat and smiles as the band thanked them and said they will be back in 2019.

But of course they couldn’t leave the premises if they didn’t come back and play their most iconic 80s track In A Big Country. They smashed it of course and left everything on the stage as they waved their last goodbye to this country and headed back to their own big country, which was acknowledged might be a little cooler than here.

It was a great night, and excellent to see another 80s iconic band that still sounds as good I suspect as they did 35 years ago…and that is no mean feat.

David Boyle

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski: