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  1. The 1995 Big Country Fan Club Convention, 21st May 1995.
  2. Barrowlands, Glasgow, 7th October 1995.
  3. Hammersmith Apollo, 6th November 1995.

The 1995 Big Country Fan Club Convention, 21st May 1995.

Oliver Hunter writes:
On arrival you were given a quiz to fill in and hand back later. There was a merchandise stall selling all the old stuff and some new. I was not impressed with the T-shirt with the album cover on the front - it is very dark and you can't make out the dog properly. other merchandise was good. A new double-sided black and white poster of the band for 4 pounds is very good value.

We listened to a playback of the new album (when the CD was working .... ). It sounds very good - it builds on older material and some of the tracks have hints of The Crossing and The Seer. Next four fans who have their own band played three songs for our delectation: 2 of their own (one was "Shining Star") and BC's "Kansas". They were pretty good and "Kansas" sounded quite similar to BC's version.

Then the band came on and played five tracks or so from WTLF (Acoustic of course), after which they asked for requests from the floor. We got snatches of some followed by "I cannae play that acoustically!". They did play "Winter Sky", "Woodstock", "Rocking in the Free World" and several others. After the live set the band went and dried of and came back for the "question and answer" session which was lively and not restricted just to BC Music - politics, other fave groups, food, Mark leaving & returning & not knowing any lyrics etc ...

Next the answers to the quiz were read out and Stuart and Bruce called several people "anoraks" and "train spotters" for know things like all the bands, birthdays and who the producers of all the albums were etc. Stuart kept asking Mark the answers to things like "Which song has the lyric ... 'we talked and smoked all through the night'?" (obvious huh?) needless to say Mark got them all wrong. He got his own back by saying that to him all Stuart's lyrics sounded like "Hueeer mmmffll kredddl joofl gryiunn prss dflurgh ..." etc.

Last, but not least, was a signing and a quick personal chat (sorry for those unable to attend) and then off into the night. All-in-all a good afternoon and evening. Look out for pictures no-doubt appearing in the next CC mag. (You can pictures from the convention on my photos page).

P.S. regarding the single, Ian Grant said that the official release date is now the 30th May so anyone who has bought it before that should buy it again if they want it to chart ;-) I managed to buy it from Spinadisc in Northampton today who told me that it was the first of two CD's (obviously) and that they were sorry but the second one hadn't arrived yet. I said I didn't mind as neither were supposed to be out yet!! It's OK but it's not the best single that's going to come from the album.

Cheers, Stay Alive!

Glasgow Barrowlands, 7th October 1995.

Richy writes:
No one who has heard Without The Aid Of A Safety Net could fail to notice how much Stuart Adamson, and the rest of Big Country love coming to the Glasgow Barrowlands. And the crowd love it too!! Big Country is always one hell of a gig, at the best venue in town, and Saturday night was no exception.

Upon arriving at the Barras, we were greeted by an army of Greenpeace volunteers, drafted in in the wake of the French nuclear tests. They had their own T-shirt stall, and were also collecting money in tins. And upon entering the hall itself, there was a huge French flag, with the word 'NON' written across it, and a Greenpeace emblem at the bottom. The other thing that I noticed was that Mark's drumkit was already set up on stage (easily spotted, due to the 50 cymbals and 200 drums!! ;-) ) which meant: a) We had either missed the support act (unlikely since it was only 1/2 an hour after the doors opened, and the place was still half empty) b) There was no support band or c) The support act didn't need drums!! As it turned out, c) was the correct answer!!

At about 8.00. the lights went down, and Mark walked out on stage. He explained a bit about who the support was. Him and Tony used to be in a band (I never caught the name) with Simon Thownsend (spelling?) who was the support act for the evening. Simon came out on stage and proceeded to play through 6 or 7 acoustic songs, and despite a frustrated crowd (there were a group down the front singing over the top of him and shouting) he was pretty good. But maybe not what you need as a support act. At the end of the day, there are only so many things you can do with just guitar and voice, and when you don't know the songs it can get a little repetitive. Having said that, I enjoyed most of what he performed. (Is this Pete's son? I know Tony and Mark have Who connections, and he did look like hime (same eyes and nose) and he sounded like Little Angels, who always wanted to be The Who!!) His parting comment was the inevitable album plug, for his band which also includes Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son!?)

So he went off, and the lights came back on, and we waited for Big Country. It was at that point that I started to look at the actual stage. Behind the drum set up was a big white "sheet" which I reckoned was going to be a screen. Inspection of the lighting gantry revealed a makeshift shelf, which I guessed (correctly, as it turned out) was holding a video projector. There were also 3 other plain white banners hanging to the left of the drums (ie behind Bruce) but other than these and the instruments the stage was pretty bare.

Shortly after 9.00, the lights went out again, and the video started playing. At first it was showing lots of fractal images, but it soon began looping through an animation of spinning skulls. This skull theme continued all night. The were some white lights above the banners, and these started moving about all over the place, and then the intro to God's Great Mistake began pouring from the speakers. The band came on stage, and began to play. Inevitably, the crowd right at the front began to bounce, and so did I (and the friends I was with). Unfortunately, we were 2 rows too far back, and had to give up, because on one around us was having it. The second song, You Dreamer was met by a similar reaction, and it wasn't until Mark played the opening drum fill to Look Away that the whole crowd came alive. A massive surge carried us forward and I managed to lose all my friends (this happens every gig I go to I just gotta be right at the front, and if they cantt hack it, tough! Look Away was Look Away: stand around during each verse, go mental at the chorus, and sing along to all the instrumental bits. (Big Country are the only band I've ever seen where the crowd sing along with the guitar solos "deh-deh-deh-deh-deh-deh-deeeeehhhhh.... "!) After Look Away, came (I think) Ships. And the thing that always amazes me about ships is that even although it is a slow song, the crowd STILL bounces all the way through it. (Or is this just a Glasgow thing??) After this, however, my memory goes a bit hazy as far as order goes, but here is a list of all the songs they played, in (I think) almost right order (anyone who wants to mail me the real order feel free)

God's Great Mistake
You Dreamer
Look Away
Sail Into Nothing
Thunder And Lightning
The Storm
Post Nuclear Talking Blues
Peace In Our Time
I'm Not Ashamed
We're Not In Kansas

Encore 1: Restless Natives
Encore 2: Fields of Fire
          Hey Hey My My (Neil Young)
Stuart said that this is the first time the band have played Eiledon on tour (I don't know if he meant this show was the first time they have played it, or the tour,as a whole) The Storm and Post Nuclear Talking Blues were both acoustic, in the bands alter ego of "The Sheep Shaggers". Stuart got the words of the first verse wrong in The Storm, and near the end Tony missed a bit he should have sung. Him and Stuart just looked at each other and laughed!!

Post Nuclear Talking Blues was the "Greenpeace song", which Stuart introduced by saying "I don't normally lecture from up here on stage, but..." and talking about the French nuclear tests and how he thought the cold war was supposed to be over, and that the only thing we should have to worry about was having a bad day. Throughout the song there were various Greenpeace still shots playing up on the screen, which makes me think this is the song they are releasing next week for Greenpeace (is it??) Inwards was a bit of a surprise, and I had to check the name of it when I got home. It is one of my favourite songs on The Crossing, but I couldn't have told you its name. I can now!

During Thunder and Lightning, the screen was showing, inevitably, storm pictures!! Afterwards Stuart said "you don't usually get thunder and Lightning indoors" I was surprised and a little disappointed when the band left the stage, without playing Lost Patrol, as its a bit of a tradition. (Do they do that in other places too, walk off while the crowd are still singing, and then come back on 5 minutes later while the crowd are still singing) and finish the song??) However, when they came back on and played Restless Natives it more than made up for it* I actually didn't recognise it at first, but that could be because I don't actually have it!!

The second encore they played began with Fields Of Fire (again I'm not 100% sure about this - if anyone knows better could they let me know??) and Stuart asked for some volunteer female dancers. About 6 or 7 girls made it up onto the stage, although 2 of them had no idea what was happening, and didnyt even know the words to Fields of Fire!! The rest of them of course were dancing and singing and loving every minute of it!! The last song they played (I think) was Hey Hey, My My, a Neil young cover, Have they played this before? I'm sure I've heard it or at least heard the name associated with Big Country (or is it a > b-side?) And that's the show.

Original? No. Different? Not really (although they did miss some songs out, and play some different ones) Fun?.Definitely!!!! My only gripe was that they didnot sing Lost patrol or Chance, so I missed getting to shout "1, 2, 3, 4". But I suppose they'll be back and do them again soon. After all, Stuart did tell us several times how good it was to be back home, and that we were the best crowd in the world!! (I'm curious. Every one always says a Glasgow crowd is the best - do bands say that when they go to other places (eg if they were playing in Copenhagen, would they say "well Copenhagen is the best place to play). or is it true (about Glasgow) I'd really like to believe it!)

Stay Alive!

A concert at the Hammersmith Apollo, 6th November 1995.

Oliver Hunter writes:
My ears are still ringing from the gig at Hammersmith Odeon, sorry, Apollo last night, so I thought this would be a good time to mail - sorry if this is at bit long .....

Well, lst Simon Townsend played for 1/2 hour; he was reasonable and obviously talented. Next came Ezio who also played 1/2 hour. They were actually quite good and I bought their CD single from the merchandise stand (also a sweatshirt and a programme). Eventually BC arrived during a musical/visual build up of the size usually reserved for much 'bigger' bands at the end of which they played the following set:

1) God's Great Mistake        9) Storm                      |
2) You Dreamer               10) Post Nuclear Talking Blues |- Acoustic
3) Look Away                 11) Broken Heart (13 Valleys)  |
4) Ships                     12) Inwards
5) Sail Into Nothing         13) I'm Not Ashamed
6) Thunder & Lightning       14) Wonderland
7) Eiledon                   15) We're Not In Kansas
8) Peace In Our Time

16) Alone                           19) Fields Of Fire (Scratch)
17) Chance                          20) Rockin' In the Free World
18) Cover fill in (don't know it)
I think I may not have had the best seat in the house as far as the sound quality was concerned, unfortunately I have heard them sound better. The sound was very distorted during the lst song but better after that, I think maybe the sound guys tweaked it during the song. Having said that BC were still just as much full of energy as ever and Stuart leaped about all over the place. The good thing about the venue is that at the front you are just that and when the lads 'soloed' to the front row, kneeling down, it's possible to touch them if you wanted to: someone put a baseball cap on Stuart while he was playing (he took it off at the end of the solo).

Stuart and Tony sang/played a new harmony & instrumental section in the middle of Sail Into Nothing which was very moving. Being 3/4 of the way up the stalls from the stage I didn't do my usual jumping madly around bit with the others down at the front and probably for this reason I wasn't getting so much of a 'buzz' as usual. This all changed when they played Eiledon which was brilliant to hear played live finally and raised my spirits to the roof and made me feel like I -was- at the front.

PIOT was ace - I first heard this song live and prefer it that way. Towards the end it turned into a heavy 'thrash' version which was good fun - the lads clearly enjoyed it!

A word about the computer graphics display on a huge screen. Up until now apart from the dog skeleton at the begining (WTLF) none of the computer graphics had been relevant and I was begining to wonder why they had spent so much money on such an expensive 'trendy' gimmick. During The Storm however they used it to display pictures of clouds, the violent sea and other images relevant at certain points through the song. This would have been tip-top if the colours hadn't messed up (or did they mean it to look like the palette had been rotated?). It was still very effective though and this is the sort of thing I would like to see rather than just a 'flashey' morph or some such, although the girl->dog morph shown during WNIK-was pretty good.

Inwards seemed to hit a certain spot and the already enthusiastic crowd went beserk. In fact someone actually jumped up on the stage, danced for a bit, and then stage-dived off into the crowd - the first time I've seen this at a BC concert!!! Also no-one seemed to mind!

After WNIK, a handful of people left - BEFORE THE ENCORE. Why do people do that? I have never understood. Are they trying to leave before the rush?, are they worried about leaving the car park first?, what is it? By doing this they then miss the best part of the show. Oh, well, as they say: "there's nowt so strange as folk".

The band seemed to find even more energy for the encore if this was possible and peformed a cracking version of Alone. During Chance, Stuart did his traditional into-the-crowd-handshaking bit whilst the rest of us kept the song going. Then there was a couple of minutes of a song I didn't recognise (chords only) while Stuart pulled up a few girls (10 in total) onto the stage (and the stage manager bloke pushed the lads who were trying to get up back - surely this isn't fair? :-( a little bit sexist?) They stayed up for FOF scratch version and then all hugged and kissed Stuart before leaving the stage.

Last, but by no means least, came Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World (again). This was really powerful stuff and -everyone- sang the chorus. At the end I think they were trying to get in the Guiness Book of Records for the most drawn-out finish which was quite amusing. So. after 2 hours of excellent music, BC finally left the stage leaving us to wander into the foyer to give some money to Greenpeace and wend our way home (in my case a 1 & 1/2 hour drive back up the Ml) after a fantastic evening out.

I was a bit surprised at the small Greenpeace content. During PNTB Stuart & Tony unveiled a Greenpeace banner along the stage by Mark's drum kit and several GP members carried banners of John Major with his mouth gagged and the French flag with NON on it. Also the computer screen showed pictures of GP and such stuff, but there was no speech by Stuart or any other reference to its I suppose he might say "let the music speak for itself", but I at least expected a "this one is for Greenpeace" or something.

I'm afraid I didn't see your mail until this morning Lewis so no tape - I nearly bought one but they were 8 pounds which was a lot after having spent 20 pounds on a programme and sweatshirt (I am a student remember :->) Can they be bought through the fan club? I thought the programme price was very reasonable BTW, I was expecting at least 5 pounds (although it was a thin programme) so 2 pounds is good value.

I feel genuinely sorry for those who are unable to see BC on this tour (how many is that exactly?) and hope that they come to where you are soon.

Cheers and "Stay Alive"....

A concert at the Hammersmith Apollo, 6th November 1995.

Philip Ost writes:
I was at Hammersmith on Wednesday and thought I would chip in a bit on the gig without repeating any of Oliver's rendition.

>someone actually jumped up on the stage,
>danced for a bit, and then stage-dived off into the crowd - the first
>time I've seen this at a BC concert!!!  Also no-one seemed to mind!

This guy was standing next to my mates & I. From his accent, I think he was South African. For the first half an hour, he kept telling us he was going to stage dive and would we all catch him ?? "Yes we would (!!) so just get it out of your system." After he proceeded to dive 3 times (the last time my friendfs watch became detached from his wrist during the catching of him & he had to dive to the floor to salvage it!) he then spent the next half an hour persuading US to do it ! I wasn't going to risk being ejected & missing the 2nd half of the set & politely declined !

He then said during WNIK that the band were pretty good and could I give him their names (imagine getting accross Mark's surname with 100+ decibels entering your ear)!

>Then there was a couple of minutes of
>a song I didn't recognise (chords only) while Stuart pulled up a few
>girls (10 in total) onto the stage
I would say there was only 30 seconds of chords that led really nicely into FOF. I may be mistaken but I think the chords were the intro to Rebel Rebel (Bowie). Regarding what Stuart referred to as "the BC dancing girls". there was some very nice looking girls on the stage especially one with a black jumper and tartan trousers! Stuart must have good taste. There was one very large girl who was finding it difficult to get onto the stage. We had to help push her up. She then did one jig up and down and then jumped off again!

Overall, the thing that surprised me about the gig was the overall sedateness of the crowd compared to the previous 5 times I've seen them. There were a lot of people standing with arms folded and there was not a lot of jumping around. This was hopefully due to the existence of seats in the stalls and not because the average age of us fans is rising close to 30 and we're just too old to jig around.

Also, I'm sure this must be the first tour when IABC was not played? Shame really !

As this is the first time I've summoned up the courage to post anything to the list, I may as well just get a few other things off my mind.

1. I think there was some talk of support bands on previous tours. In 1991 at the Town & Country Club in Camden, London, the support was excellent. AIRHEAD (2 hits - "Counting Sheep" & "It's Funy How") followed by 80's band The Icicle Works. In 1993, there was what's his name, the lead singer from the Stranglers & his band (apologies for being ignorant). Also back in 1989 on the PIOT tour, there was a band called Diesel Park West.

2. In my attic somewhere, I have the 12" of Wonderland in clear vinyl with Lost Patrol live on the B side and I think Angle Park. Anyone know if this is relatively rare ??

3. My first intro to BC was in Sept 83 on the Crossing Tour, at the then Gaumont theatre in Southampton. I was hooked after that. One quite interesting point from the concert was that during The Storm, an obnoxious drunken moron near me started a fight. Stuart noticed the scuffle and immediately the band stopped playing. He wanted to know what the problem was & when everyone started pointing at the culprit, Stuart summoned him to the stage. The crowd passed the moron over their heads and onto the stage. Stuart then gave him his guitar and said you do better. After strumming a loada noise for 10 seconds or so, the heavies came on and dragged him off !

That's all for now

Philip Ost.

PS I shook Stuart's hand the other night - Oliver was right, BC were really enjoying themselves - you could see it in his eyes.

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