The Skids and Big Country at the Glen Pavilion, Dunfermline 28.12.19
What a trip and what a privilege to get here tonight. Up from Poole as a Christmas treat to the home of The Skids and Big Country. I never thought I’d get up here, ever.
My fourth Skids gig of 2019 and third Big Country one. For my Skids look back see: https://gigswithivan.home.blog/2019/09/01/the-skids-back-on-track/
There are five of us gathered tonight, I say tonight but we’ve come from Edinburgh earlier this morning. The trains aren’t behaving so it’s a cab across the bridge from Edinburgh having flown up the day before. This is no ordinary gig. This is a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage to the spiritual home of The Skids and Big Country, and Stuart Adamson.
As soon as we arrived we dumped our bags at The City Hotel and headed for Tappie Toories, a pub that Stuart Adamson’s family owned – not sure who owns it now but this is a diamond boozer. It sells beer and it has a juke box. There are seats for us and we are happy…for hours.
We had a wander and some good Turkish food (opposite our City Hotel) before meandering our way via another bar to Pittencrieff Park, where the Glen Pavilion is.
We looked at the park sign board and wondered where in the darkness the venue was. A couple of guys walked passed and we thought best follow them – it was Jamie Watson and Scott from Big Country, returning from town with supplies. On the right track then. We’ve bumped into Jamie several times, not just at the gigs but a post gig hotel bar in Belfast and a kebab shop incident in Frome. We are guided to the entrance, armed with a reliable 8.30pm start time for Big Country.
The Glen Pavilion
In the middle of the park this is an art deco building that probably survives on weddings, parties and events that are not gigs. It’s a lot bigger than I was anticipating and tonight it holds around 2000 people, all standing, and it is pleasantly rammed. Surely no one else has packed it like this? Would Nazareth manage this or Barbara Dickson, also of Dunfermline stock.
The four gents toilets are working overtime.
No bar to speak of but a manicured queue to tables of people serving cans, all poured into plastic cups. Not too torturous though. The walls and windows are ‘sweating’. Later on the windows get opened and we all survive.
Support band: Aye Hobos
First on are Aye Hobos. Entertaining, some covers, big beards, heavy and rocky with more than a hint of ZZ Top. That’s just right for a support band.
The Big Country sound, the bagpipe guitars, was full on and the set packed with crowd pleasers. Simon Hough’s vocals as reminiscent of Adamson as ever. When you’ve travelled so far, this is special.
The set highlights for me were ‘1000 Stars’ (which I find myself singing continuously for days afterwards), ‘In A Big Country’, ‘Wonderland’, ‘Look Away’ and ‘Chance’ and I’m loving all of it. This is emotional…maybe the ‘Buckie’ is kicking in. “Ohhhh lord, where did that feeling go, ohhhh lord, I never felt so low-oh-o”. At a couple of points I’m standing there enveloped in the wall of Watson bagpipe guitar, thinking of the long and tragically departed Stuart Adamson and I can feel my eye sockets mysteriously bulging with liquid – pull youself together man: you’re in Dunfermline.
More, more…another time. Jamie and Bruce Watson, and drummer Mark Brzezicki will be returning in 20 minutes as Skids. Mark had been joining the Skids as well in recent months as a replacement for Mike Baillie.
The Skids kick off with ‘Charade’. Jobson’s dancing. He’s been down the gym some more and is a powerhouse of energy. It’s boiling hot. Moving on we have the best of the newest album, the track ‘Kings of the New World Order’ before Jobson introduces the song that U2 and Green Day later covered, and Bono ‘fucked up’ written in Dunfermline library: The Saints are Coming.
After the ‘still relevant’ ‘Working for the Yankee Dollar’ we get the Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Circus Games’. The Boris Johnson version of ‘TV Stars’ was in there somewhere… Albert Tatlock!
On we go…. ‘Masquerade….masquerade’…wonderful, still so powerful.
Jobson introduces ‘Charles’, the first single to break for them and dedicated it to Stuart Adamson, “without whom none of this would be possible”.
The boys don’t finish without doing ‘Olympian’ and ‘Into the Valley’. Quite a short set, just over and hour, but a lot of punch… again.
Off we go, happy, back to Tappie Toories to hammer the juke box. Top night. What a pilgrimage. I never thought I’d see this when I was a 17 year old Skids fan in the South West London suburbs.