Friday, July 19, 2013

Big Country. Live. At Last.

Sunday night is going to be very special for me. Back in August 2011, I wrote about my favorite band: Big County. In that post, I noted:

I never did manage to see Big Country live. I had tickets to see them in early 1984 when they played in Indianapolis, but for the one and only time ever, my parents prohibited me from going to a concert (it was on a school night and I had a test the next day). For our honeymoon, my wife and I went to London. We had our fingers crossed that Big Country might be performing while we were there; alas, it turns out that they were in Chicago while we were in London. I finally had a chance to see Stuart Adamson perform with country artist Marcus Hummon in 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee. I even had a chance to get my picture taken with Adamson (sadly, the photo did not turn out well because the flash didn't work) and had him autograph a copy of the liner notes for the “Through a Big Country” Japanese box set (once a sort of Holy Grail of Big Country CDs). Adamson’s autograph can be seen on the Photo Gallery at my Big Country Book of Lyrics site (along with my name and my kids’ names in the liner notes of a Big Country single).

When I wrote that paragraph, I had no expectations that I would ever have a chance to see Big Country live, even in their new incarnation (with original members Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki, plus Watson’s son Jamie, Derek Forbes [formerly of Simple Minds], and, of course, Mike Peters of the Alarm on lead vocals). Then earlier this year, following the release of The Journey, the first new Big Country album since 1999, a batch of US concert dates was announced, the first shows the band would play in the US since 1993 (with the exception of a small show in 1999). Alas, to my dismay, all of the dates were on the East or West coast, in Texas, or in Colorado, and with everything else going on in my life, I just couldn’t make any of those shows.

And then more dates were announced for the Midwest.

Sunday, I’ll be driving to Newport, Kentucky (just across the river from Cincinnati) to see Big Country perform at Thompson House.

It’s hard to articulate the emotions brought about by this opportunity. I know that to some people, “it’s just a band” or “it’s just music”. But to me, Big Country has always been … well, more. Maybe it was spending time in the forests of Michigan in the summer of 1984, listening to The Crossing and Wonderland over and over and over, letting the sounds, the moods, the stories, and emotions of those records wash over me as I sat under towering trees beside clear lakes. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was listening to those songs as I was going through the mental preparations involved with being ready to head off to college that fall and needing to take my first steps into adulthood. I don’t know. But I do know that the music of Big Country has been a near constant with me from that summer through now.

And now I’m going to finally have a chance to see the band perform live. Finally. Thirty years after The Crossing was released. I can’t put into words how truly excited I am for this occasion.

I just wish that I could share it (and my excitement) with my family, but alas, the kids aren’t interested and my wife, for several reasons, won’t be able to go with me. So it will just me me. And the band. And hopefully, a venue full of fans just as excited as I am. And, hopefully, finally, I’ll have the chance to sing along to “Chance”.

Oh Lord where did the feeling go?

Oh Lord I never felt so low.

They’re also going to be playing in Evanston, Illinois, next month, literally about 2 blocks from the apartment that I lived in for my junior and senior years at Northwestern. I’m thinking about going to that show, but I’m delaying buying a ticket because there is still apparently a (slim) chance that an Indianapolis date might be added in August. But I didn’t want to wait for that date and miss a chance to see them. So Newport, here I come.

With a little luck, I’ll have a chance to meet the band before of after the show, if for nothing more than to get a photo and to simply say thank you for years and years of putting a smile on my face.

And for those interested, here are two videos from the new Big Country album The Journey that was released earlier this year. The first track, “In a Broken Promise Land” is probably my favorite track from The Journey. The second track, “Hurt” is, in all honesty, not one of my favorite tracks from The Journey; however, the song does evoke very strong emotions because it is all about Stuart Adamson.

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive


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