Storm Breakers: Anchor Lane / Stoneface / Gordon’s Alive / The Audiorayz – Dreadnought Rock, Bathgate (18th August 2017)

Four bands from Glasgow for a fiver on a Friday night in Bathgate’s Dreadnought Rock. Sounds like a good night, right? Add in the proviso that the four of them are battling it out for a slot at this year’s Winter Storm in Troon and you’ve got a buzzing atmosphere.

With all four bands allotted half an hour to ply their trade, a running order picked at random on the night and the winners chosen by a panel of judges; there was no denying there was an emphasis on fairness. As it should be for an event like this. Having seen all four bands in the past, I knew what I was in for.

First to take the stage were The Audiorayz. Taking a melodic slant to a classic rock sound along with some groove, they waste no time in trying to impress their crowd. Jumping the hurdle of a fairly new line-up with ease, their vigour impresses. Hitting a couple of covers with “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Voodoo Child”, it comes as a shock when their time comes to an end, the set passing in a blur.

Flashy guitar work and massive rhythms are the order of business with Gordon’s Alive. Bringing an 80s-influenced sound to the table, the energetic trio make the most of their time. It’s a high-octane set, one which they charge through, barely stopping for breath and the band work well together as a unit. Meeting the high bar set by The Audiorayz, Gordon’s Alive are intent on leaving their mark.

Opting for a grittier take on hard rock, Stoneface continue the evening’s trend of a well-polished band to take the stage. The four-piece are firing on all cylinders and easily the best performance I’ve seen from them yet; their passion for their music is evident and determination to bag the coveted spot is laid bare. Like their competitors, they hammer through their set with panache, their obvious influences crafted into something original, dark and a hint of friendly menace.

Anchor Lane close out the evening with their brand of modern hard rock. Much like their predecessors, they make the most of their slot, fuelled by a youthful hunger. Drawing in a healthy crowd, the hearty reception allows the band to give as good as they can get. Visibly enjoying themselves, you can tell they love playing in front of an audience. As tight and polished as the rest of the bands, they continue the high standard set out before them.

After judging, Winter Storm’s own Ian McCaig takes to the stage to give a brief speech; urging people to get behind a certain petition before announcing the winners. Rather than butcher it, you can find all the details here but needless to say, if you support live music – sign it.

While there can only be one winner, that’s indeed what the night was about; supporting live, local music. It shows how many great bands there are in Glasgow to choose from and the winner could easily have been any of the four (and even better, they all got paid – a rarity for events like this). Joining legends like The Quireboys, Glen White McManus, Graham Bonnet and the rising stars of Stone Broken, The King Lot and Massive Wagons are winners Anchor Lane.

Alongside this, all four bands will receive the benefit of advice from Polestar Music Management. Speaking after the event, Polestar Music Management’s Mark Robinson comments:

It’s the first event I’ve organised in conjunction with Ian and Alan – Polestar was set up to help new and inexperienced bands progress, and is a consultancy for them to use to improve their offering and help them learn how to approach bookers and promoters.

If indeed there is an event like this next year, the bar has been set exceptionally high for future entrants. There’s less than 100 days to the main event and with that line-up, I’d advise getting your tickets sooner rather than later!

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