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COUNTRY Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
15 April 2011
were back in London for their second gig in just over four months and
had moved up to the bigger Empire, after previously selling out the
Islington Academy. I last saw the band back in 1986 at the Victoria
Hall, proudly bopping around the gig in check lumberjack style shirt,
many of which were evidence tonight in a mainly male crowd who, bar a
few, would have all seen the band back in their 80's peak.
But before the main event we had two supports. The youngsters Station
Parade played an enjoyable set of indie rock and the female vocalist
in a bikini top was certainly catching the attention of the crowd. Full
marks to the guitarist stage left who was in a wibbly wobbly world of
his own throwing shapes all over the place.
Mike Marlin was on next, looking slightly like the guy out of the
Eels. The music had good melodies and the band were joined by a sax and
trumpet player for the London gig only. The set was rounded off with a
very different version of the Bee Gee's disco classic 'Stayin' Alive'.
Better than the original! Definitely an artist I will be tracking down
for more music.
Country now comprise of the original trio of guitarist Bruce Watson,
bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, who are joined by
Bruce's son Jamie on guitar and the Alarm's Mike Peters on vocals.
is an inspired choice, as throughout the show he makes fitting tributes
to the late Stuart Adamson. Also vocally he nails the Big Country songs
spot on and his on stage presence and sheer enthusiasm for the songs
really shines through.
say the crowd are on the band's side from the first song '1,000 Stars'
right through to the set's closing number 'In A Big Country'.
Highlights? The whole damn show! 'The Teacher' and 'Look Away' drove the
crowd wild as you'd expect, in fact the bopping/mosh at the front didn't
stop all night apart from when Mike Peters walked through the audience.
It is a
non-stop show with the only stops for tribute to Stuart Adamson and a
passionate appeal from Mike Peters for the charity he supports, Love
Hope Strength, who help various cancer charities.
'Wonderland' and 'Fields Of Fire' closed the show, both a good chance
for Bruce Watson to show his guitar skills and also his son Jamie, who
is like a Mini Me of his dad.
'Lost Patrol' and the simply wonderful 'Chance' were the first encores
and given that the crowd carried on singing the chours of 'Chance' when
the band left you knew they would be back for more. To close the show
'Restless Natives' and 'In A Big Country' which was a very fitting way
to close the show.
They have a few more dates left on this tour and three more in June
including the Isle Of Wight festival. Do yourself a favour and go see
them, a truly memorable live band providing a fitting tribute and
keeping alive, the music of Stuart Adamson and Big Country.