FROM THE JAM / BUZZCOCKS / BIG COUNTRY – all live! BRIGHTON CENTRE 3rd Dec 2022
From The Jam, Buzzcocks and Big Country – We gathered to see three driving forces of late 1970s and early 80’s punk, new wave and rock!
Please note – this write up starts with first band on stage and continues as the bands appeared. Also all smaller images can be clicked to enlarge.
From The Jam
It has been many a year since I first saw The Jam, in fact I was on their road-crew in Edinburgh when they played a small venue called Clouds in July back in 1977! All Around The World was the single out at that time. Told you it was a while ago! Since then I have been lucky to catch Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings performing as From The Jam a few times. And loved every performance. I was photo’ing the guys in Brighton during the scorcher of a summer at St Peters Church. Russell mentioned a gig coming up in Brighton in December, with a few special guests, and here we are!
First out of the blocks tonight was Big Country. Damn, I love this band – always have and the present line up continues the legacy. It is lively, boisterous and you are always guaranteed fabulous live performance. Big Country was originally formed in 1981 by guitar playing founder members Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson both native of the band’s hometown Dunfermline in Scotland. Initially driven by a shared vision of widescreen guitar melody, harmony and lyric, the classic Big Country sound was further enhanced later that summer by the arrival of drummer Mark Brzezicki and bass player Tony Butler. This is the Big Country that (with producer Steve Lillywhite), recorded the classic debut album ‘The Crossing’ in 1983.
The band broke massively worldwide with the release of the album’s classic singles ‘Fields Of Fire’, ‘Chance’ and signature song ‘In A Big Country’, which went on to become massive worldwide hits, selling over 2 million copies and driving ‘The Crossing’ to 3 prestigious Grammy nominations in the USA.
Bruce Watson – guitar and vocals (1981–2000, 2007, 2010–present)
Mark Brzezicki – drums (1982–1989, 1993–2000, 2007, 2010–present)
Simon Hough – vocals and guitar (2013–present)
Jamie Watson – guitars (2010–present)
Gil Allan – bass (2021–present)
The audience started to arrive early and us early birds were treated to a fine set as the guys took to the stage they received a warm cheer. It’s been about 20 years since Stuart Adamson passed away, but since then Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki have worked hard to make sure the Big Country legacy stays alive with this touring version of Big Country. Sadly the Brighton Centre was still fairly quiet at this stage for the band, it was 7.15pm and they were the first of a triple tracker of top outfits. I managed to have a quick chat with Simon and got a wink and a nod from Bruce as he limbered up his guitar arm before they took to the stage.
Set opener for this night was 1000 Stars, I love that song and allows some brilliant guitar interplay from Bruce Watson and his son Jamie. They have totally tuned that almost symbiotic relationship, its wonderful to witness and great to hear! Up next another classic from the vaults, one of their smash his Look Away. Simon leading the vocals and the band now had the sizeable crowd dancing and some fist punching the air to the chorus. Brilliant.
Bruce shouted “put the house lights up, I wannae see everybody”, the lights came up “Och no, no no, turn them back off!” Brilliant. It was a short set so not so much in band banter as usual. We were served up more hits with Chance, In A Big Country and Wonderland. Three absolute crackers from the 80’s. A moment that many had been waiting for, Chance, had the now filling up crowd singing and chanting along with the chorus “Oh Lord – where did the feelings go”. A great atmosphere had been created. And the set closed with the stadium shaker, Fields Of Fire.
The touch paper had been well and truly lit for ‘Fields Of Fire’. The crowd now singing along to every word made this a truly special live rendition. Well done to the Brighton Centre Choir! Superb song and just brilliant to hear it live. The guitars in tune and sync producing that almost Celtic sound. Now to make these songs come alive what is needed are some great vocals and Mr Hough delivered them again, rocking it out for this one or digging deep for some of the earlier slower numbers.
Top performance, I am pleased and happy to report that the original sound and legacy of Big Country is still very much alive and kicking. Thanks guys and hope to see you again soon.
Big Country are on the WWW here.
Steve Diggle is the only original member from the original line-up but he has quality musicians with him. Danny Farrant at the back on drums, we have the enigmatic Chris Remington on bass, also good to see the newer recruit to the fold Mani Perazzoli on extra guitar and backing vocals. Put them in with Steve Diggle on guitar and vocals and they come together to deliver a buzzin’ Buzzcocks set of perfect pop punk!
Buzzcocks are an English punk rock band formed in Bolton, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as a seminal influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, and pop punk. They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on Singles Going Steady, an acclaimed compilation album described as a “punk masterpiece”.
And so Buzzcocks founding member vocalist/guitarist Steve Diggle took centre stage along with Chris Remington on his thundering bass guitar. At the back was was Danny Farrant and as mentioned also more guitars and vocal duties from Mani. Danny and Chris have both been part of Buzzcocks for over 10 years! Sadly Raf Edmonds, their long serving manager had passed a couple of days before this gig, and a few days off the sad anniversary of the passing of Pete Shelley. Thats got to have been a tough one to handle.
The classic track What Do I Get opened up set and was quickly followed by the more recent Senses Out Of Control. We were then whisked again back in time with Fast Cars. A cracking opening salvo. Firstly, make no mistake, Buzzcocks are tight and loud as they come! Maybe Mr Diggle doesn’t jump around quite like he used to back in the day, but Buzzcocks know how to put on a storming, fist pumping, moshing pogo of a show. I got the feeling that the show was perhaps geared to please the older members of the audience. However we took every opportunity to show younger crowd members how it should be done. It didn’t take long to get the crowd jumping as a whole. Bloody Brilliant to be part of it.
A great selection of songs thus far from various released albums and collections. Good to remember that Steve had written and contributed to a good many of the songs tonight. Steve didn’t stop, all the while that huge grin lighting up his face and the room. Steve Diggle looks as if he is going to carry on doing his thing forever. Lots of smiles, wind-milling arm and pointing going on.
Included in this shorter set were the crowd pleasers including Autonomy and Promises and also in the mix we had Manchester Rain from the latest album Sonics In The Soul. Buzzcocks smash out a set that, naturally includes plenty of classics but the 11 song set also featured a new song, and maybe a track you have not heard in a while. Songs you love? well it has to include Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve was next and the set closed with Harmony In My Head. Thats how to do it! Buzzcocks style.
And Mr Diggle? Well he gave us plenty of grinning, lots pointing, lots of guitar held up in the air as he fires out those unique Buzzcocks buzzsaw guitar riffs. I am pretty sure Buzzcocks will not wallow in the depths of a pure nostalgia out fit. I get the feeling following the release of their latest album they are most definitely looking forward to the future, and so are we!
Thanks Buzzcocks for a blistering set!
Buzzcocks online are found here!
From The Jam
I had caught a whisper that Bruce Foxton was not going to be playing tonight. From The Jam took to the stage, sadly without Mr Foxton. Russell explained that he was not well, but had wanted the show to go ahead without him. So, sending lots of love to Bruce and hope to meet up again soon. Russell has had his own health problems recently, suffering a heart attack. Great to see him as effervescent as always, with a shout of “Shall we do this? Are you ready?”.
The guys without stopping or indeed pausing for breath, From The Jam ploughed straight ahead into their set with a good selection of Jam standards. Frontman Russell Hastings, formerly of The Gift, delivered the songs with precision as the set got underway with In The City, David Watts and, the anthem that is, Start! Three absolute belters from the get go that kicked off their 17 song set. A shout out for a new track Lula, from their new album The Butterfly Effect, a beautiful song which slotted in and worked well amongst the Jam classics. That was one of the set highlights for me. Beautifully delivered. I remember Russell and Bruce doing an acoustic version of it a short while ago and I instantly loved it. The album is pretty darn good as well!
Standing in for Mr Foxton was Gary Simons. He had some pretty hefty boots to try and fill. He did a great job up there. As the set moved along, all these Butterflies, it does get confusing, we had The Butterfly Collector. It shows how good The Jam could be especially in the slower song stakes. Then we had the sudden formation of a supergroup as Big Country came onto the stage to help perform, it was just pure magic. Congrats to whoever put that together. Breathtaking for me! In The Brighton Center tonight it only took the first few chords of that song, with the Watson boys, to delight us with that melody, and Russells outstanding vocal work. Pure magic and I highlight I will remember for many years.
The set list had something to please all the fans tonight. From The Jam only played for just under an hour and a half, but they did not waste a single minute of it! From The Jam only played for just over an hour, but importantly they did not waste a single minute of it! A slot for a cover of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ Motown standard written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland Heatwave I think proves that point, the song of course featured on the Setting Sons album.
Nearly all of tonight’s set list – from those early singles to album tracks – is well known to Jam fans, looking out across the Brighton Centre almost everyone in the crowd sings along perpetually. A large group in the centre of the crowd would fire up “We are the Mods, We are The Mods” at every opportunity. It just added to the brilliant atmosphere tonight.
The pace and energy of this electric performance didn’t stop as the set progressed and included Saturday’s Kids, Pretty Green, a real old one In The Crowd and then tore into the always angry Town Called Malice. It might seem not quite right to miss out any of the songs performed tonight that made the set list from having a mention here. You will just have to go see the band live because all of the songs tonight were all delivered with a high degree of fiery passion and accuracy. There is never a dull minute with these guys. Just a real shame the Bruce Foxton was not on the stage taking part. We missed him, his vocals and that bass guitar. Not forgetting Tony ‘Rico’ Richardson on the Sax tonight. Well played and added a fabulous musical layer to the sound.
From The Jam finish on a massive high with another classic, Going Underground. Going Underground was fired at us with much exultant air-punching and vocals from the large, now Jam satiated audience. I am sure they were leaving happy and exhausted.
We had just witnessed three bands who bring life, power and dynamism to the stage, nostalgia to our brains and so much energy to our bodies. I felt like a 20-something – year-old – again – no, not going to tell you my real age!
Thank you From The Jam… until the next time and please pass on our best wishes to Bruce Foxton.
Dig into some From The Jam here online.
Thanks to BIG COUNTRY, BUZZCOCKS and FROM THE JAM.
Thanks to the wonderful promotion team from AGMP, and thank you for the ticket.
Thanks to The Brighton Centre
Thanks to the Brighton and Hove News Music team.
Words and Pictures: Ian Bourn
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All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2022.
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