It doesn’t bode well when a group throws a cover early into its set. Yet that is exactly what the Big Dish do in their first show in twenty years. The sublime chords of opening number, ‘Prospect Street', suddenly flurry into an unnecessary version of the Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

“We wrote both of those,” quips front man Steven Lindsay. The gilded pop glory of tracks such as ‘Bonafide’, ‘Warning Sign’ and ‘Miss America’, however, soon put things back onto a more even course.

The Big Dish released three albums, ‘Swimmer’ (1986), ‘Creeping Up On Jesus’ (1989) and ‘Satellites’ (1991), and, while they never broke out nationally, the Airdrie-formed group are still remembered fondly in their native Scotland as tonight’s sell-out gig proves.

This is, however, the wrong venue for their return, which is being billed off as one-off comeback show. One is left feeling that Lindsay’s gorgeous vocals; Brian McFie’s crystal, Steely Dan-style guitar licks and Alan Dumbreck’s celestial keyboards would all have translated so much better if they had been allowed to wash over us in a seated venue. Instead it is standing room over as crammed tight the crowd vies for eye shot of the band.

And much of this audience doesn’t help. A drunken girl beats her hands out of time on her boyfriend’s back and slops beer everywhere. A gormless older man shouts out several times at the band, “Don’t leave it so long next time!”, and cackles loudly on each occasion as if he has said something profoundly witty.

One, however, can’t fault the quality of these tunes. There is a strong acoustic version of ‘Christina’s World’, and the main set of the band’s ninety minute performance is brought to a rousing close with the cascading ‘Swimming’.

In much the same way that they ruined their beginning, the Big Dish, however, spoil their ending. They open their encore with their third single, the upbeat and anthemic ‘Slide’, and should have left it there on a high note with one of their best known songs. They opt though to finish instead with another cover, this time of Mott The Hoople’s ‘All the Young Dudes’. It is as one level totally fitting, the Big Dish who must now all be in their late 40’s and early 50’s looking back through David Bowie’s homage to lost youth at themselves half a lifetime ago. Even as young men the Big Dish with their reflective songs always seemed much older, and at another level it is the wrong way to close things, putting the last focus instead on another old band rather than the memories that they themselves provoke.

Tonight’s gig-venue and audience problems aside-has featured a good, if not a great performance. The Big Dish, who ironically never recorded covers in their original lifetime, however, should have put slightly more faith in their own songs.

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Commenting On: ABC, Glasgow, 21/1/2012 - Big Dish

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