Big Country to headline Hebridean Celtic Festival

Legendary Scottish rock band Big Country has been named the headline performer at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer.

Big Country will headline the Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer. Picture: Contributed

The band, which scored 17 top 30 singles in the UK and achieved five gold and platinum albums, will top the HebCelt bill on Friday, 18 July.

The five-piece group is the second headline act to be announced for the event, following confirmation that former Runrig frontman Donnie Munro will play the previous evening.

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The 19th HebCelt, based in Stornoway in the island of Lewis, will be held from 16-19 July 2014. Festival director Caroline Maclennan, said: “Big Country has been one of the biggest names in the music business for over 30 years and one of the most successful bands to come out of Scotland.

“We are delighted the band will make HebCelt one of its festival dates this year and it will give our audience something special on the Friday night.”

Big Country was originally formed in 1981 by the late Stuart Adamson and fellow guitarist Bruce Watson, both natives of Dunfermline. They were joined later that summer by drummer Mark Brzezicki and bass player Tony Butler, the line-up that recorded the classic debut album ‘The Crossing’ in 1983.

The group was known for a string of hits such as In a Big Country, Fields of Fire, East of Eden and, the biggest UK hit, Look Away.

Adamson died in 2001 and the band subsequently reformed to mark its 25thanniversary, later joined by former Alarm singer Mike Peters who spent three years as frontman.

The new line-up sees Bruce Watson (guitars/vocals); Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals); Bruce’s son, Jamie Watson (guitars/vocals) and former Simple Minds bassist/vocalist, Derek Forbes, joined by Simon Hough, ex-frontman for both Denny Laine (Wings) and Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy)

Bruce Watson said: “We are really looking forward to playing in this beautiful part of the country. Can’t wait.”

The 2013 HebCelt, which was headlined by Van Morrison, Dougie MacLean, Capercailiie, the Battlefield Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, was the most successful in its 18-year history with ticket sales showing an increase of over 30 per cent on 2012.

Just over half the 16,000 festival-goers came from outside the Hebrides and the huge influx of visitors from across Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand, helped generate around £1 million for the local economy.

In November HebCelt was hailed as one of the greenest festivals in the world after winning a prestigious environmental award.

It was the only Scottish festival to receive an Outstanding award from environmental campaign group A Greener Festival. It was also shortlisted in the Greener Festival category in the UK Festival Awards, alongside nine other festivals, including Glastonbury.

Also in 2013, HebCelt was selected for the third year in succession as one of the top ten UK summer festivals by music magazine Songlines and was shortlisted in the Best Independent Festival category in the AIM Independent Music Awards.

In 2011 it was ranked Best Large Festival at the industry-sponsored Scottish Event Awards and it won Best Event of the Year award at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004 and 2009.