Due to be a good one from the outset, Mason Hill’s steamroller-like campaign to become the next big thing seems like it’s just getting started. Following a dominating performance at this year’s Download Boardie Takeover which obliterated their Cathouse headline slot, they’re back headlining the Garage with two other new bands.
No strangers to us, Anchor Lane are the first to take the stage. Their first set since their show-stealing Wildfire performance and, immediately, the fellow hometown boys make their presence known. Opening with their tribute to fallen idols “Twenty Sixteen”, by the time it’s finished, anyone who didn’t know who they are do now.
Hammering through songs like “Annie”, “Hunter’s Heart” and “Eclipse”, the young modern hard rock four-piece have the crowd in the palm of their hand for the entirety of their all-too-brief set but they make the most of it, going out on a high with “Finished for Twelve”. Watching them, it’s hard to tell who is enjoying themselves more: the band or the crowd. Gritty yet polished, they deliver their best performance to date, belying their age and suitably warming up the crowd.
Playing their maiden performance, ex-Inglorious man Billy Taylor brings his new band, Deever and attempts to follow Anchor Lane with a far more modern sound than his previous band. Opening with the infectious “Fire at Will” – their only song out in the wild – they opt for possibly the grittiest sound of the night. As it’s their first show and the band is barely six months old, the chemistry isn’t quite there yet and it feels like the band are just playing parts, not having fully glued together.
Hitting a couple of covers, Taylor admits most of the original songs are unknown with this being their first road test. There’s a tribute to Chester Bennington in the form of Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” which is the highlight of their set, stripped back and downtuned, it’s a brilliant spin on the nu-metal titans and a fitting tribute. Most of the in-between song banter feels forced and saccharine and as a Billy Idol cover is introduced as one of Taylor’s three favourite Billys, it comes as a shock when he doesn’t mention Connolly given the number of times he makes of point of displaying his apparent love for the town. Ultimately, their own attempt at the modern hard rock sound is much like most other bands kicking around: it’s good enough to listen to but largely forgettable as most of these bands are beginning to sound the same.
Taking their places, Mason Hill fire through an energetic set comprised of songs from their EP and songs we can expect to hear on the upcoming debut album. As polished and professional as ever, it’s great to see their graft paying off, the five-piece working through their set as if it was a band twenty years deep into their career and in their peak yet this is a band just at the start. Alongside the favourites and those soon to be favourites, the band dig into the archives with their earliest material as well as finding time to deliver the best rendition of “Simple Man” since Lynyrd Skynyrd themselves.
With flawless guitar playing from James Bird and Marc Montgomery, the powerhouse drums from Craig McFetridge and the massive bass grooves from Matthew Ward, the band are playing tighter than ever. It’s proof of concept that regardless of your craft, if you put in the work, it’ll pay dividends. Meanwhile, Scott Taylor continues to grow as a frontman, refusing to stand still for the duration of the set, his powerful vocals backed by a band firing on all cylinders and loaded with emotion.
One of the true highlights comes in the form of Billy Taylor climbing back onto the stage to join them for Audioslave’s “Cochise”. Fleshing out what was already a muscular, swaggering song; the three guitars of Bird, Montgomery and Taylor work in perfect tandem.
Foregoing the idea of an encore, the band close with the standard “Where I Belong”, complete with confetti cannons firing as the song hits its crescendo. With an impending album and a support slot with fellow Glaswegians Gun at the Barrowlands and playing at Troon’s WinterStorm, there’s no sign of slowing down for Mason Hill. And whilst it was very much their headline show, it was a testament to how much new talent there is coming through with all three bands on the night.