After the previous night of the band’s Grand Tour, a train back from Newport to London, the RWC Final on the radio and a great meal in our favourite fish restaurant we finally arrived at The Old Ship in Hackney for the Passengers meet-up. Loud, friendly and beery, the band’s followers are a lovely bunch, even rolling out a birthday cake for one of the Italian travellers (fans had also flown in from Seattle, Vancouver and Auckland for these rare gigs by BBT.)
It was our first time at The Empire and it is a beautiful old theatre. The excellent merch desk was doing a roaring trade, as was the main bar.
Support act was Sweet Billy Pilgrim and, both nights, they were fun, quirky and tuneful.
So, to the reason we are all here.
Regular readers will know that I adore Big Big Train so, when I say that Saturday night was one of the best gigs I have been to, in 48 years of gig-going, you may not be surprised. But it really was. And the sound. I grabbed the band’s producer and live engineer, Rob Aubrey, as we left and told him I’d never heard a better sounding drum kit as Nick d’Virgilio’s.
The setlist featured most of this year’s Grand Tour album plus some old favourites like Brave Captain, Hedgerow, East Coast Racer and Wassail. As usual, the band were joined by their 5-piece brass section who make an awesome noise. When all 13 musicians are roaring together, the power they generate is truly wonderful.
Quiet and respectful during the songs but roaring their approval at the end of each track, standing ovations, applause for solos and brass parts. The racket at the end of the show was deafening.
It made me think..
Big Big Train are one of the best British bands out there. Their music is emotional and melodic and is played by musicians at the very top of their game.