We were honoured to be invited to last night’s #Bringbackrockradio Bash at the Garage in Glasgow, an event put on to showcase the efforts being put in place to reinstate Rock Radio on our airwaves. Five acts, plus the core Rock Radio DJ team, were to entertain and enlighten with all proceeds from the evening going to Nordoff Robbins.
The early doors – 6:30 – seemed to throw a few people but the venue was still busy when Kieran Robertson took to the stage. As this young (17 year old) upstart walked shirtless onto the stage, my first thoughts were “my daughter would like this – looks emo”, which isn’t a bad thing. Kieran certainly has confidence – bags of it – and made the most of his 20 minute set, ploughing through the songs.
However, the group I was with didn’t click with his performance. Had I been sixteen, I’d probably have loved it. The music was fine, but the stage show was the kind of thing I’d have appreciated more a couple of decades ago. Having semi-naked dancing women writhing on stage and kissing each other works when you’re Motley Crue or Motorhead… but for a 17 year-old to be performing with them made this particular parent (and his wife) feel a bit uncomfortable. The potential is definitely there with Kieran. I just think he had the wrong audience last night with the average age in the room being probably twice his own.
Next up we had a band who were visually and musically pretty much the opposite side of the spectrum in We Were Hunted. Much more toned down in terms of stage show – just four guys standing at their mics (or sitting at drums) and belting out some soulful rock. The wife and I shared one of those “wow” moments when Ryan Muir opened his mouth and that incredible voice gushed from it. The music, for my tastes, was a little middle-of-the-road, but they’ve the kind of style that will be appreciated by a lot of people – and hopefully will be in years to come.
Not the most charismatic act, but again perhaps due to a short set time and just wanting to get their music heard. It was heard, and it was enjoyed! Well done, lads!
Our “surprise guest” turned out to be The Amorettes which worked for me as Gary has been banging on about them for a while and I’ve never had the chance to catch them. This trio of ladies from Central Scotland (two sisters, Hannah and Heather, and a hanger-on in the shape of guitarist Gill) looked the part as they took the stage and, bloody hell, did they sound the part too. With a slightly longer set time than the preceding acts, they had the chance to interact with the audience a little more including a bit of back and forth, join-in-the-chorus shenanigans.
The Amorettes were the first band to really get the crowd a bit sweaty and the venue was filling up by the time they finished. It took a shot or two to get the response from the audience that they both seeked and deserved, but the effort was worthwhile and they left the stage to a huge cheer. They’re back in Glasgow soon at King Tuts, so if you missed them last night then you have another chance on the 24th.
Quite the catch for the show was the addition of up-and-coming festival headliners (no pressure…) The Virginmarys, the only foreigners on the bill. Traipsing all the way up from Macclesfield, a town known for such musical greats as… erm… The Macc Lads, The Garage was definitely a little smaller than the last stage that our own Ross and Rachy saw them on recently – the main one at Leeds. Judging by the roar when they walked on, the majority of the crowd had picked up their ticket to see this trio make their trademark racket. Myself being a Virginmarys virgin had absolutely no idea what to expect.
Consider me blown away. And the wife. And our friends who were with us.
The music was great, but focus for us was the drummer Danny Dolan. Animal could take lessons from him in how to bash skins. With a very cut-back drumkit (the polar opposite of Maiden’s Nicko McBrain who collects drums the way some people collect Pokémon), Dolan has the drums low and himself sat in quite an elevated position so that he can batter those skins and sheets of flattened metal harder than I think I have ever seen a drummer play in my life before. Part of me doesn’t understand why he’s chosen to play drums as he obviously hates the bloody things judging by how hard he was hitting them.
The Virginmarys were the first band to make the floor of the Garage shake as fans jumped up and down by the time the first song was barely getting into its stride. What was most impressive was that age was no division. Ross is, like, 12 or something (OK, 21 but it’s still far too young) and he was bouncing around with other fans easily twice his age.
As broken drumsticks were thrown overhead (if you ever need any kindling made, Dolan’s the man for the job) the band belted out tune after tune of indie rock with thick hair on its balls. This isn’t a lightweight, run-of-the-mill rock band. This is a three-man powerhouse and they had us hooked and cheering as they left the stage.
The final band of the night, coming on stage late as – apparently – “Dante’s having a shite”, were local heroes, Gun. A band who’d called it a day some time ago and have the former Rock Radio to thank for bringing them back from retirement. As such, they were the perfect band to headline this attempt to give our favourite radio station another chance.
The band as they are now are a mixture of old blood and new, with a couple of founder members and others who’ve filled in gaps over the years. Similarly, their set was a mixture of classics (kicking off with their cover of “Word Up” and later their first single “Better Days”) right up to the new album. Almost every one had the crowd singing along, including yours truly who doesn’t really know the songs that well!
Gun are a feelgood band, a party band. A group who have fun and enjoyment seeping out of every pore so that it floats into the audience. Last night was only the third time I’ve seen Gun (opening for The Darkness a couple of years back and the recent acoustic session being the others), but I would be more than happy to go and see them again on the strength of this show.
We’re all fans of what is still seen as a niche genre of music. It’s stations like Rock Radio – and their are pitiful few of them left – that can help these bands gain listeners. Radio stations that don’t have playlists determined by record company execs’ wallets, but instead on the varied tastes of the DJs who actually play the music. If you want to help Rock Radio regain their license and fill 96.3FM around Glasgow with decent music, then we’ve got around four weeks before Ofcom make their decision as to which bid is successful.
You can email or write to Ofcom and explain to them why you think Rock Radio deserves that license. They do listen (or should!) to the public – it’s in their remit. Details of addresses and so forth can be found on Rock Radio Glasgow’s website or in this previous post.