Big Country are back with a third lead singer – but you can still expect the same passion from next Friday’s Lancashire gig, says Tony Dewhurst
Big Country’s rousing Caledonian sound has spun them across the globe, but Clitheroe is fast becoming their second home.
Big Country launched a fresh chapter when their new singer Simon Hough made his debut for the Scots rockers at a discreet gig at the town’s Swan and Royal Hotel.
Hough has replaced former Alarm man Mike Peters, who has returned to his original project after fronting Big Country’s last album, The Journey.
Bruce Watson, one of Big Country’s founder members, said: “It was a rehearsal really, but a lot of locals turned up and it was a brilliant night.
“We wanted to see how Simon would fit in and he got the job.
“He is a very talented vocalist, but what really swung it for us was that his voice range was similar to Stuart Adamson’s.”
Adamson, who also played with The Skids, died a decade ago, aged 43, following a marathon battle with alcoholism and depression.
“Of course nobody can replace Stuart in Big Country and nobody ever will,” added Watson.
“It is still very hard to speak about him because to me he wasn’t this rock star, he was just a great mate.
“Coming to Clitheroe, though, is a pleasure because we feel at home there.
“We make it our base for a few days once a month, writing new stuff, just chewing the fat. Also there is a great curry house in the town we all enjoy visiting.
“We’ve not played the Grand before but our manager took us to see Showaddywaddy there and it is a fabulous venue.
“It is pretty much the start of our tour, so we are really looking forward to the gig because, in a way, it will feel like a home town concert.”
When U2 and Green Day teamed up to deliver a raucous cover version of The Skids’ The Saints are Coming, Stuart Adamson’s band before Big Country, all eyes were back focused on the Big Country name again.
“I played at The Skids reunion gig a few years ago and it certainly sparked a lot of interest in Big Country and created fresh momentum for the band,” added Watson.
“It had a lot to with The Edge.
“The Saints are Coming was one of his favourite songs.
“Apart from the fact that U2 and Green Day covered the song for charity, it gave the rest of the guys in The Skids some recognition for something they did 30 odd years ago.”
Big Country’s debut album, The Crossing, proved a smash with their barnstorming anthems Fields of Fire, Chance and Harvest Home – and the songs continue to be as popular as ever.
“I never thought we’d play together as Big Country again after Stuart died, it didn’t really seem possible,” said Watson.
“It is different now, I suppose, because we’ve all grown up.
“There’s no pressure anymore to get on the front of this magazine or doing interviews with the New Musical Express or whoever.
“It is a lot more of a fun thing now.
“I’ve heard people call us a heritage band and that’s fine.
“When I see our original fans bringing their sons and daughters to the gigs it is great to see.
“I’m intensely proud of songs like Fields of Fire and I think they’ve stood the test of time well.”
Big Country, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, May 16. £20. 01200 421599.