CONCERT REVIEW : Big Country Rocks the Stage and Steals Hearts in Epic Edinburgh Concert! 1st June 2023

BIG COUNTRY

Support from NINE BELOW ZERO

The Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 1st June 2023

Originally formed in South London in 1977 by their still dynamic frontman Dennis Greaves, Nine Below Zero have been setting standards of excellence ever since. Their debut album, Live at The Marquee, is quite simply one of the greatest live recordings and perfectly captures the essence of what is still an amazing live act. The band are no strangers to major support slots, having opened for The Who, The Kinks and Chuck Berry among others. They have collaborated with Glen Tilbrook, Nik Kershaw and Gary Moore and are hugely admired by the likes of Jools Holland and Ray Davies along with legions of fans across Europe.

NBZ are on tonight’s bill due to Spear Of Destiny’s Kurt taking ill and as a lot of folks had bought tickets primarily to see Spear and not knowing who NBZ or their music were somewhat in the dark until they hit the stage….they are still as good live as any act around and this is the best that I’ve seen them after been a follower from my days in London in the early 80s.

Kicking off with Tore Down the band are immediately into their stride as the power-surged blues sound fills The Queens Hall.

  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Nine Below Zero - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023

The  solid rhythm section which includes Dennis’s offspring Sonny who I saw recently in the same venue behind the kit with the Joanne Shaw Taylor Band throw out a pulsating platform for the pyrotechnics of Dennis Greaves, one of the great Blues guitarists to hail from the UK.

Alongside him is Mark Feltham whose mastery of the harmonica has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. This instrument is crucial to the Blues sound and offers so much to the sound of a song, but is somewhat neglected nowadays.

Feltham’s genius delivers a perfect response to the often mind-blowing riffs that Dennis Greaves fires out routinely and between them they create a fantastic sound. It was great to see Mark onstage with the band tonight and he certainly brought huge pleasure to many people by his appearance.

Three Times Enough is lapped up by the crowd who are here mainly for Big Country but are lovers of great music and clearly know it when they see it.

Pausing while Dennis takes pictures of the crowd on his phone, Nine Below Zero then launch into the classic Woolly Bully which as always went down a treat with the sold out crowd.

Dennis sincerely thanked the audience for such a wonderfully warm reception before exiting the stage.

Big Country have been racking up the miles in recent years as they are constantly on tour somewhere in the world. The fact that the guys can still fill halls across the UK and beyond is testament to the quality of the band’s songs which have stood the test of time and still sound as fresh and invigorating as they did when they were first performed 40 odd years ago.

Tonight’s gig was the first in Scotland for a few months and sees the 40th anniversary of The Crossing album and the band are gigging around all points in the UK playing the album in full.

Bursting on to The Queens hall stage with floor tom thundering ‘1000 Stars’ the band immediately lit up the venue. Bruce has such an engaging and charismatic on stage personality, you cannot help smile as he moves around the stage, a true legend. The talking is left to co-founder Watson these days and he looked as though he was having a much fun on stage as he ever did back in the day.

  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023
  • Big Country - The Queens Hall Edinburgh 1st June 2023

As always the twin guitar attack of Bruce and Jamie Watson was at the forefront recreating the Celtic melodies with ease. Simon Haugh has now eased into the frontman role and is sounding better than ever as ably demonstrated on ‘Look Away’…Hough treats all the songs with respect and does them justice. And, just as importantly, doesn’t try to be Adamson.

As well as the twin guitars, the Big Country trademark sound would be nothing without a fantastic rhythm section and with Gil Allan on bass and the amazing Mark Brzezicki…whilst the sound of Big Country owes a lot to the guitars of father and son combo Jamie & Bruce Watson, the rhythm section of Mark Brzezicki…the drum work of Brzezicki was at times mesmerising….and you know, just for a moment during Chance – always a crowd favourite when played live – I was a teenager again singing my heart out along with everyone else.

Wonderland’ and ‘Fields Of Fire’ rounded off the main set in style and prised more bums off seats across the hall. The guys returned for a quick blast through ‘In A Big Country’ which went down a storm and rounded off another excellent night with Dunfermline’s finest.

Musical trends come and go, but class is permanent and this is a band that has it by the bucketload. With 29 singles and 9 studio albums behind them, Big Country still have a lot to offer the paying public. Catch them on tour if you can

Review & Photographs by Stuart Stott 

Author: Stuart Stott

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