It didn’t really matter that the sound mix at The Gov last night for Scotland’s anthem rich Big Country’s first ever Adelaide show was so bad, because the small, but totally devoted, crowd sang all the words that their new vocalist, Simon Hough, was mouthing pretty much soundlessly throughout much of the gig.

IMG_2497 (1)The guy at the mixing desk must have been doing a crossword or something because he ignored Hough’s not so subtle gestures to give the vocals more volume. Or maybe he had mislabeled the slider and just kept turning up the guitars.

Not that the guitars needed to be quieter. What has always given Big Country their signature sound has been the chiming ‘bagpipe’ guitars of their twin guitar attack, and founding member Bruce Watson and his son, Jamie, provided a wall of Celtic guitar sound that had the fans in paroxysms of air-punching delight all through the 15 song set. Their riffs are timeless and still sound as powerful and uplifting as the day they were first set to tape.

The set was heavy on the ‘hits’, and the choral accompaniment and choreographed beer glass waving which began in earnest during ‘Look Away’, ‘Just A Shadow’ reached a sustained crescendo through a clutch of soaring anthems like ‘Chance’, ‘In A Big Country’, ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Fields Of Fire’.

The encore, however, was a bit disappointing – a lacklustre run through of ‘Inwards’, one of their lesser known tunes.

IMG_2530 (1)A kilted Mark Brzezicki, one of rock’s great drummers, came out from behind the kit at the end of the set and gave a heartfelt thanks to the crowd and acknowledged the spirit of the late, much-missed, Stuart Adamson to which the punters gave an almighty roar of approval.

Big Country are planning on touring again in the near future to play their 1986 album ‘The Seer’ in its entirety and, if this tour eventuates, those who stayed away this time around should grab a ticket to hear one of 80’s rock’s most under-rated bands before the chance is lost forever.

Earlier in the evening, a lively set from the Young Offenders kicked off proceedings to a warm reception from those who arrived at the venue early. Their set contained some engagingly frenzied originals and a smattering of cover versions of songs by artists such as Jamie T and The Clash. Their version of ‘Complete Control’ served as an advertisement for an upcoming tribute night where bands will be playing the best of The Clash’s catalogue. This gig will be at Jive on July 2nd – should be good!

Review and photos by Ken Grady