REVIEW: ’80s Invasion at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

Big Country at the '80s Invasion show at The Kings Theatre, Southsea. Photo by Paul Windsor
Big Country at the '80s Invasion show at The Kings Theatre, Southsea. Photo by Paul Windsor
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Wow, Big Country at The Kings Theatre, got to be worth a look, I thought.

My heart sank a bit when I saw it was part of a package tour rather cringingly called ’80’s Invasion. Hmm, how’s that going to work? Well, basically you hire a seasoned session band and bring in a few ’80s pop stars with more than a few hit records and watch the tickets fly out, which indeed they did as The Kings was packed.

Things got off to a less than auspicious start with Ben Volpeliere-Pierott of Curiosity Killed The Cat looking as though he would rather be somewhere else tonight – putting his lacklustre performance down to a dodgy fish supper.

Thankfully things improved rapidly with former Haircut 100 vocalist Nick Heyward. Sadly no Aran jumpers on display tonight but he still has that boyish smile and looks alarmingly well-preserved. With a trio of perfect pop singles in Favourite Shirts(Boy Meets Girl), Fantastic Day and Love Plus One he could do no wrong.

Next up, pop royalty, in the shape of Midge Ure. With a CV as long as both of your arms I was curious how he would fare tonight. Probably best known for his synth-based music with Ultravox and Visage it was surprise to see him strap on a golden Les Paul guitar and give it a right old hammering – well I guess he was once in Thin Lizzy.

A rocked up version of Fade to Grey was a gem, as was his tribute to David Bowie with a great version of Starman.

The biggest cheer though was for Vienna, still sounding bombastic and just a little bit ridiculous, but great nonetheless.

With only two original members of the band left, Big Country still manage to keep the brand strong playing all over the world and on this performance it was not hard to see why. Guitarist Bruce Watson hasn’t changed since I last saw them 30-odd years ago at Portsmouth Poly, still smiling, playing as sharp as ever, now joined by his son, Jamie, on stage.

Singer Simon Hough has some huge boots to fill in place of original singer Staurt Adamson but does an admirable job. With such a packed bill it’s a short and sweet set, but they squeeze in In a Big Country and close with a rousing Fields of Fire.

Mighty fine indeed.