With news of Rock Radio trying to make a bold return to the airwaves and reclaim its old 96.3 licence, it’s been met with only approval, be it fans or bands (local and international). And before any of the bands were announced, tickets were selling like hotcakes for the cause, the fact it’s a Friday night in Glasgow and it was a guaranteed good night with good company.
Five bands in four hours meant short sets from all the bands and it was really the only negative of the night, just as the bands were getting warmed up, they announced they were on the last song. Covering a broad range of what Rock Radio played in the past and what it hopes to in the future, most of the bands have a history with Rock Radio from the old days.
Early doors of 18:30 seemed to throw a lot of people off but Kieran Robertson takes it in his stride. Following his bandmates onto the stage, “stage fright” is certainly not in the teenager’s vocabulary. Bouncing around the stage, he’s excited to be part of the night but it misses the mark for myself, his vocals are lost for the majority and whilst you can hear his voice, you can’t actually make out what he’s singing. The group I was with, which Mosh was part of, were all pretty much in agreement over it. However, there’s a germ of something good there, it just needs to be tightened up and maybe lose the stage antics which made a lot of us pretty uncomfortable.
We Were Hunted swiftly follow them and look like a bunch of IT consultants. Again, it’s not particularly to my tastes but the four-piece are intent to make their statement and fire through as many songs as they can in their short slot. Aiming more at an indie or shoegaze niche, it adds to the patchwork quilt that is rock and the lads deliver a well-polished set which goes down well with the crowd. With a few years under their belts, I could see them being leaders in their field.
News I had stumbled across a couple of weeks ago, girl trio The Amorettes are the “special guests” of the night. The angsty punk-infused rock gets the crowd going and are intent on upping the stakes with the morning after showing much appreciation for them on social media. I’ve heard good things about them and for a band still in relative infancy, they don’t mess around, intent on being professional from the word “go”. Like their predecessors, there’s a level of polish but it’s one which only comes from playing together for years and it shows as they take command of the growing crowd, none of the girls missing their cues and working up a sweat in their short time, leaving to the loudest cheers of the night.
As the people behind Donald MacLeod (the owner of tonight’s venue) break apart the equipment, he introduces a short, moving clip showing the work Nordoff Robins does (where all of the night’s proceeds went). Then, a certain familiar Irishman takes to the stage, appealing for us all to keep telling Ofcom that Rock Radio needs to return and after swiftly dealing with a heckler, he introduces a band which, for some people in the crowd, doesn’t need one. I’ll admit I had a ticket for this night a long time before their announcement but when your favourite band is playing your hometown and you’re in good company, it slightly changes the dynamic of the night. Ted is clearly taken aback at one point by the roars he receives when he mentions their name: The Virginmarys.
The only band on the bill not to hail from Glasgow, their history with the town runs deep, thanks largely to Rock Radio once upon a time. It also underlines what this station means and can mean again to not only rock fans and bands from Glasgow but from further afield. Like their incredible Leeds set from a couple of weeks back, the trio waste no time in tearing the place apart and the room becomes a swirling vortex of energy, the sweat flowing freely before the opening “I Wanna Take You Home” is even finished.
Delivering a show-stealing performance, I had various people say to me after their set how amazing they were and they’d never heard of them or had only heard me extolling their virtues and immediately, they got what I’ve been talking about these past several years. It’s difficult to know where to look with Danny Dolan smashing his stripped back drumkit into submission, Matt Rose delivering his meaty bass lines as he rocks back and forward on his feet, playing with intensity not many bass players can rival. We also have Ally Dickaty on guitar and vocals providing a unique and throaty growl whilst also screaming from the pit of his stomach alongside his chunky guitar riffs. With songs from their recent album, Divides like “For You My Love” and “Halo in Her Silhouette” married expertly with old favourites like “Dead Man’s Shoes” and “Just a Ride”, the trio clearly made an impression and picked up a few new fans into the bargain.
Covered in sweat, myself and Rachel (yup, our Rachel who made the journey from Birmingham for The Virginmarys) retired to the back to see Gun, ensconced in a pint (well, I was), Gun hit the stage after Dante’s…erm…delay. Launching into proceedings with their definitive version of “Word Up”, they fired through their all too brief headline slot. Staples of previous Rock Radio bashes, I had predicted Gun would have headlined with The Virginmarys making an appearance (I’m now taking bookings for fortune tellings – enquire within). I’ve never seen Gun before and I was suitably impressed as I tried to recover from previous antics. Blending old songs with new (much like band members), “Better Days” and “Steal Your Fire” get as warm a welcome as “Hold Your Head Up” and I’m looking forward to see them co-headline Glasgow’s O2 ABC next year with Black Star Riders.
With a diverse range of music on the night and a great community, it showed what Rock Radio was and what it could be again if they’re awarded the license. It’ll allow any rock fan to discover new local, national and international acts (much as I did back in the day) and if last time around was anything to go by, it won’t be the obvious songs that you’ve heard a million times before. I and the rest of the crew at Moshville implore you, if you haven’t done so already, contact Ofcom and tell them you want Rock Radio back where it belongs – 96.3FM – and more importantly, tell them why.