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  1. The Venue, London, by Ian Winter.
  2. Dingwalls, Hull, by Timothy Dickson.

The Venue, London, 14th February 1983

Ian Winter writes:
A life in the day at the Venue

Waiting impatiently for the next chance to see Big Country, I was delighted to hear about the one-off gig at The Venue. Knowing instantly that was not to be missed, I set about planning the trip to London.

At 11.10am on February 14th, the day of the gig, I caught a train for Waterloo, accompanied by two enthusiastic BC fans, Robert Buchanan and Nigel Hayes. Having taken a day off college (Itchen sixth form college in Soton), we were well aware we were going to be about 7 hours early for the gig in seemingly Arctic conditions - but we were determined to fulfil our aim of meeting the band.

We arrived at Waterloo about 12.45 and immediatelyset off in search of The Venue. Once there we bought our tickets and were told that BC were due to arrive at 4pm. Undeterred by this (which meant a 3 hour wait) and the bitter cold and piercing wind, we walked to Hyde Park in order to sit down and eat. Driven away by scavenging gulls and pigeons, we went back to the venue at 3.30pm and waited ... and waited ... and waited.

Soon, however, our wait was over, thanks to the efforts of Martin Somers, who helps in the fan club. All of a sudden we were face to face with Stuart, Tony and Bruce, shortly followed by Mark. It was great to chat with the band for the first time, while they were quite genuinely supprised that we had come so far and so early. Then they went off in different directions and returned for the soundcheck which we were lucky enough to see. The evening was going to be great, I could sense it.

It didn't take long for The Venue to fill up; the atmosphere was great and there was a fine array of BC T-Shirts and sweatshirts on display. The band definately have a great following going already. It was also pleasant to talk to fellow fans (especially Mick Leese and Calvin Chesworth from Birmingham and somebody from Southend); the spirit amongst the followers is really hard to comprehend, perhaps even more euphoric than the truly fantastic days of the Skids.

After somewhat mediocre support, although the Popsicles were mildly enchanting, Big Country took to the stage and after one chord brought immediate euphoria and rapture to the many enthusiasts at the front, including my friends and I. It is hard to describe the magic which exists within the band, but the sheer power and energy cannot, and did not, fail to scythe through any "Heart & Soul" in the crowd. The highlights of the night for me were Angle Park, Heart & Soul, Fields of Fire, Lost Patrol and Inwards. It was all a complete triumph - proof that this is the best new band in the country. It only remains to say that success is on the horizon - "just as you sow, you shall reap".

Dingwalls, Hull, 25th February 1983

Timothy Dickson writes:
The packed audience squeezed onto the tiny dance floor as Charlie checked the drum kit. A little voice churned over the PA system: "You may have seen Big Country on the Oxford Road Show tonight. Well they were playing live, they've just arrived, here's Big Country!"

Bruce, Tony, Mark and Stuart bounced on stage from a tiny porthole of a dressing room. Stuart apologised for being late - then (finally) got on stage at 9.45pm. The crowd was blessed with Angle Park for starters, then the brilliant Harvest Home, shortly followed by hot favourites Heart & Soul, Balcony and Close Action. Everyone enjoyed the lyrically amazing Lost Patrol.

Bruce, looking cool and calculating, Mark slapping everything, Tony twanging away and Stuart still apologising for being late. They were all naturally flamboyant and brilliant. The audience caught two encores, the final number a quite stirring Inwards. Then they rode into the distance. Bloody great, ace, etc.

I met all four of Big Country afterwards and they were extremely kind and helpful (thanks). I had a chat with Stuart, a brilliant man, the best. I got all their autographs which now have pride of place on my bedroom wall.

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