At The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 14, 2019

BIG COUNTRY (Live at The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 14, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Scoring a Number One album, knocking U2 off the top of the charts in the process, is cause for celebration in anyone’s book. Back in 1984 Big Country’s second album Steeltown did just that and 35 years on it was time to mark that momentous occasion.

It’s a popular concept these days to celebrate landmark albums but while most tend to play an album in full, in original running order, Big Country approached the night in a slightly different way. Sure, the vast majority of Steeltown was played but the songs instead of being played in one large block were dispersed throughout the set, mixing with hits and classics in a way that ran in a more coherent, well-paced way.

1000 Stars from their very first album opened the night before the first two from Steeltown, Flame Of The West and East Of Eden hit home followed by a couple of stone-cold classics Look Away and Lost Patrol and the evening progressed in a similar fashion.

Original guitarist Bruce Watson, flanked by his son Jamie also on guitar, was a buzz of energy, never still for a moment while fellow original Mark Brzezicki, was inspired on the drums. It’s no wonder he has been so in demand over the years occupying the drum stool in The Cult, Procul Harum as well as playing with Roger Daltrey and Fish amongst many others. A whole night could be spent just watching Brzezicki play.

Simon Hough had the hardest task of the night, singing the songs made so famous by Stuart Adamson and like Ricky Warwick in Thin Lizzy, he stepped into those shoes and did Adamson proud.

One of the advantages of celebrating a particular album is that often long-lost nuggets are unearthed, that have rarely if ever been played live. It’s certainly been an age since Big Country performed Come Back To Me and Tall Ships Go, so they were a welcome inclusion for longstanding fans of the band.

Of course, the big hitters Chance, Wonderland, In A Big Country and Fields Of Fire elicited the biggest, loudest response and so they should as the Celtic guitars, military drumming and rousing choruses are handcrafted for shows like this. With the crowd bouncing and singing along to these rabble rousing anthems it was job done by Big Country.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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