Something about the mythology around The Alarm makes it seem perfectly fitting that frontman Mike Peters would assume the role of hired gun for his old friends from Scotland, Big Country.
That band tragically lost their lead singer, guitarist and co-founder Stuart Adamson in December of 2001. In 2010, the surviving members asked Welshman Peters, who still fronts The Alarm (with no original members), to join Big Country. The band rolled into Newport’s Thompson House on Sunday (July 21), a last minute addition to their tour, so only about 80 people turned up.
By the band’s performance you would have thought they were playing Paul Brown Stadium. Though considered a full member, Peters carried out his duties modestly. Several times he enthusiastically gave shout outs to his bandmates — co-founder/guitarist Bruce Watson, Watson’s son Jamie on guitar, drummer Mark Brzezicki and bassist Derek Forbes (ex-Simple Minds), who replaced the retired Tony Butler.
In a way it was like seeing three bands at once. The set list included several tracks from the fine new album, The Journey, which was written by the band, including the departed Butler. The big crowd-pleasers, such as “Look Away” and “Fields of Fire,” were mostly played towards the end, with the latter inducing a sing-a-long with the crowd.
For his part, Peters looked very Alarm-like strumming his amplified acoustic guitar, but certainly did the Big Country songs justice. The enthusiastic audience was treated to a two-song encore that featured a great new track, “Last Ship Sails,” and — no surprise here — “In a Big Country.”
Afterwards, Peters ushered his mates down to meet the faithful, shake hands, and sign autographs. Watson gave the crowd a heart-felt thanks that made you wish more people would have known about the gig.