This was always set to be a good one from the minute it was announced. The two best bands in Glasgow at Bathgate’s Dreadnought Rock for the princely sum of a fiver? Sign me up. It’s unarguable that Anchor Lane have had an incredible year with some excellent support slots, dominating Wildfire and Winter Storm and all off the back of this year’s New Beginning EP. Tonight felt like a celebration of all the hard work the modern hard rock four-piece have put in by ending the year on a high with their own headline show.
Taking the support slot are their brothers, Black King Cobra. A mighty band in their own right and to have the pair of them on one bill is something I’d been waiting for since the first time I saw the groove rock band. With their unique sound, they manage to delicately ensure their songs sound different yet all tie back to the same core DNA: mountains of groove. Kicking off the night with “Blood Rush”, it shows the band aren’t messing about and are out to impress the few people in the room who don’t already know who they are. Meanwhile, “Ball and Chain” takes the set toward a much heavier and grittier sound before the funky “Ruin of Youth”.
“Mr Dependable” is introduced by frontman Callum Moran as a more disco number and he’s not wrong before going back to funky territory with most people’s favourite “Wrack and Ruin”. “Harvest Moon” leads things into Led Zeppelin territory before they end with two new songs, the latter of which, “Quake”, harkens back to “Ball and Chain”. Throughout, the band are as tight as ever with massive bass grooves from Johnny Keel who locks in excellently with drummer Steve Todd. Ross Clark plays at a virtuoso level and if you hadn’t seen the band, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s more than one guitar at work.
However, it’s their finale which comes as the real highlight of their set once “Quake” ends. With what appears to be an impromptu jam session at the end, it’s a testament to the quality of band that it looks like it’s been rehearsed to within an inch of its life. And at the risk of repeating myself when it comes to Black King Cobra, this was a performance which showed them once again upping their game and delivering their best set to date.
Few bands are capable of following a set like that. But if anyone can, it’s Anchor Lane. Taking things in their stride, they greet the crowd with Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” and by the time set opener “Runaway” has finished, they’ve got the crowd in the palm of their hands. “Hunter’s Heart” leads into New Beginning material and crowd participation time with “Annie” and the arena-worthy “Cog in the Wheel”.
“Take Some Time” leads into Black King Cobra’s Callum Moran being invited back on stage to explain the “Wanted: beer theft/Wanker Lane” signs taped to the monitors at the front of the stage. Between both bands, it shows the camaraderie is real and the usual “Thanks for having us/opening the show for us” isn’t just simple platitudes. “Eclipse” segues into the deliciously heavy new song “Rising Up” and the song shows how much the band have developed over the past year. Ignoring the concept of an encore, the band launch into the tribute to 2016’s lost icons with “Twenty Sixteen” before going for broke with “Finished for Twelve”.
Consistently improving on what has been a great live show powered by boundless energy from the four of them as well as a proficiency on their chosen instrument of choice that other bands should envy. With Conor Gaffney and Jack Nicol trading chunky guitar riffs all night, it’s the skill with which they do it that when combined makes for a riveting sight. Meanwhile, Matthew Quigley provides massive bass lines and makes it look easy as the two six-stringers move across the stage. Drummer Scott Hanlon marries finesse with technical ability to give an impassioned performance. As a unit, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better band in Glasgow right now, the chemistry is evident for all to see and the modest assuredness in their respective skills make them something truly special.
From the first to the last note, Anchor Lane delivered a definitive performance, not making a single mis-step. Whilst at the start of the year, their EP launch in Audio was a display of their then-current prowess, this was akin to watching another band entirely. It was the type of performance you’d expect from a band a decade into their career. In the run-up to the night, it was certain to be a great night and by the time Anchor Lane finished, both bands had proved that was the case. Can we do it again?
Header image by MB Photography Scotland