Big Country

The Final Fling [Video]

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Big Country left behind quite a few concert videos, representing several different phases in their history. The very best of them was the New Year's Eve concert in Glasgow from 1983 (issued as Big Country Live on laserdisc and King Biscuit Flower Hour on CD), where band and hometown audience were totally in sync for a profoundly moving performance. This double-disc DVD set -- which appears on the Track Records imprint by way of Classic Pictures, isn't quite in that league, but as the Glasgow show hadn't turned up on DVD as of 2005, it makes a more than decent substitute. The first disc takes fans back to 1988 and the East Berlin Peace Concert, where the band gave a high-wattage serenade of Scottish-flavored rock to 150,000 citizens of the eastern bloc, a year before the Berlin Wall came down. Leader Stuart Adamson is in excellent voice and the performance, if lacking the overwhelming poetry of the earlier concert video, surges with energy, beautiful melodies, and the work of Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler's killer rhythm section; the band was a five-piece at this time, incidentally, with Josh Phillips-Gorse on keyboards. The audience doesn't always know or understand the words, but the beat and the hauntingly beautiful music clearly win them over -- even the quiet moments, as on "Just a Shadow," have a certain power to them once the show gets going. The camera angles are constantly shifting and the visuals are as scintillating as the music, the cameras capturing some lighting effects off the stage as the sun sets, all leading to a finale at night. The expected numbers, including "Fields of Fire" and "In a Big Country," are here, and the band closes with a raucous though enjoyably spirited rendition of "Honky Tonk Women." This disc also includes a preview of the forthcoming releases of the group's Voodoo Lounge Tour DVD, which presents a more lyrical performance by the band; Live at Das Fest, which is a decidedly more raw presentation of their sound; and Live at the Peppermint Lounge, which is from the early '80s and probably will be the most interesting of the three releases. The second disc contains the complete show from May 31, 2000, at the end of a world tour, back at Glasgow Barrowlands -- it's amazing how, a decade and a half later, Big Country rise to the occasion in much the same way as the earlier Glasgow video, turning in a well-nigh perfect live presentation of their best work in its near optimum state; musically and visually, this performance is a ten and a quarter on a scale maxing out at ten, as they generate more than 100 percent of their capability. If the emotional impact is a little less this time out, the playing and singing are a dead-on match in terms of appeal, and audio and video quality got a lot better in the decade and a half elapsed since the earlier Glasgow concert video. They do a total of 22 songs in a show running two hours, and while the later material generally isn't as worthwhile as the stuff from the first album and early singles, all of the later material sounds more engaging done in concert than it did on record. The quartet, Adamson, Brzezicki, Butler, and guitarist Bruce Watson, show some of the influence of Adamson's relocation to Nashville and his immersion in country music, but their overall sound is still what one expects coming out of their early history. The second disc includes re-creations of the tour program contents, with a detailed history of the group through its 2002 farewell tour, as well as most of the other paraphernalia associated with that final tour.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick