I was late away from work, and knew I would be unlikely to make the 6:50 kickoff but horrendous traffic on the M8, and the impossible task of finding a parking space, meant I completely missed the opening act. I have, therefore, no opinion of Kieran Robertson… other than, when I saw him later in the bar, he was wearing too much manscara. (#GrumpyOldMan). Sorry Kieran.
When I finally arrived, We Were Hunted were in full swing and getting on with making great music. I particularly liked the bass playing vocalist. I don’t know his name (either Ryan Muir, Benjamin Kay, Iain Alexander or David Upward, I assume) but he sounded great. Not a band I was aware of before tonight but one that will be hunted out… soon.
Next up were The Amorettes who were astonishingly good. A three piece who tore through some awesome rock music and had us belting out responses to the lead singer’s vocals. “Hot And Heavy”, they had us sing and that pretty much sums up their sound. Gill Montgomery (lead vocals and guitar) exhorted us to follow Heather (MacKay – on bass) at which point, Heather gave us an embarrassed little wave, as if she was worried we hadn’t noticed her. Brilliant! The line up is completed by Heather’s sister, Hannah MacKay, on drums. They knew how to rock and looked like they were having a great time doing it. Another band I need to track down later.
When The Virginmarys took the stage an already excited crowd got really carried away. The response to the band was bouncing banging, boisterous and not entirely balanced. (Special mention should be made here of our illustrious editor who calmly and quietly stepped in front of some people who were looking nervous as a large, and particularly unstable, chap careened around in front of them. Mosh stood as a solid and reassuring buffer between them and the behatted breenger before, just as quietly, moving back again when the chap staggered off. Excellent work Mr Editor.) The Virginmarys, another three-piece, were hugely impressive but special mention has to go to the drummer, Danny Dolan, who really worked hard for his money. He had a tiny drum kit (a snare and two toms) but he battered it so mercilessly that I am astonished it lasted the night without falling to pieces. I had heard their latest album, but the energy and passion they delivered on stage shows why seeing a band live is always worthwhile. I’m inspired to go back to their album and listen with new ears. It was good to hear the band, not just singing their songs but also the praises of Rock Radio. The importance of a vibrant radio station, with knowledgeable DJs, supporting and nurturing new talent should never be underestimated. OFCOM, are you paying attention?
The act at the top of the bill was GUN who got straight down to business with “Word Up” – the very definition of a crowd-pleaser. We were then treated to an exciting concoction of old and new material before they finished, all too soon (curse you curfew!), with an off the wall rendition of a Beastie Boys classic. The old hands and the new boys worked really well together and the whole band looked like they were having a ball. They have a real knack for delivering tunes with catchy hooks that work their way into your brain… and stay there. Polished performers who delivered with a swagger – you might even say they were gallus. Their frontman, Dante Gizzi, seemed to be especially enjoying himself; throwing his hands wide and his head back, inviting us to knock him over with our shouted renditions of their songs. A band playing to their strengths, in their home town, for a cause they believed in. Outstanding!
And finally, at least as far as the music review goes, I have said nothing about Donald MacLeod’s contribution…
So, back to my one word review: joyous! If it had just been about the bands, it would have been a great gig and would have got a great review. But it was more than just a gig. It was a #BringBackRockRadio Bash and it was Rock Radio that brought the joy! The DJs behind the bid were out in force: introducing the bands; reminiscing about gigs and gaffs from times past; and in Father Ted’s case, delivering a particularly memorable put down to a heckler! One of the best things about Rock Radio (apart from the music they played, obviously) was their ability to create and nurture a community, I am still in contact with a number of people that I met through Rock Radio, and that sense of community was there all night; you could feel it in the warm reception the DJs got as they took to the stage. The crowd did not wander off between bands, or shout the DJs down but rather, we greeted them as old friends. Of particular importance on the night was Donald MacLeod’s exhortation to support the Nordoff Robbins charity. Now, Donald appeared to be fairly relaxed (as relaxed as a newt, you could say) but despite his lack of focus, pretty much everybody went quiet and turned to watch the video explaining what the charity does. It is typical of Rock Radio that, win or lose the OFCOM bid, their instinct was to throw a party. It is just as typical that they decided not only to have a party but to raise money for charity while they were at it. Judging by the money I saw being chucked in on Friday night, they made more than a bucket-load!
It was a belter of a Bash!