It’s been far too long since Anchor Lane played a headline show (okay, it’s only been five months) and even longer since such an instance was in Glasgow. As such, tonight was a given and it seemed many others were in agreement since they only went and sold the night out. And for three bands for the price of a couple of pints on a bank holiday weekend, no one’s going to argue that value for money. With two of Glasgow’s finest bands on the bill, the only way it could have been better would be Black King Cobra taking Rumrunners spot, simply to make a night of showcasing the crème de la crème of Glasgow’s bands.
By the time Darkness Divine take the stage, The Garage’s Attic room is already half-full with their logo adorning many shirts. And rightly so after what follows. Having caught them earlier this year, they made sure they impressed the crowd, a feat which they repeat tonight. The only difference is with the constant gigging at our local Metal 2 the Masses competition has made them up their game ten-fold. Thrashy, melodic and heavy in equal measure, their set passes in a blur and for the duration of their time on stage, they’ve got their audience captivated.
Whilst the first song acts as a gentle opener compared to their rest of their material, they make sure everyone knows they’re the heaviest band on the bill tonight. No more so than second song, “Stranger” which is followed up by “Stronger Dose” which balances melody with groove but ensuring it’s still ridiculously heavy. By the time they leave the stage, it’s certain they’ve won more fans and how they never won Metal 2 the Masses, I’ll never know.
Next up is Edinburgh’s Rumrunners. I’d heard from a couple of people they were good but heard nothing of their material myself. Now, I’m not saying this was the worst band I’ve ever seen but there wasn’t much here to redeem them. They showed up and started on time – give them a plus there. Essentially, this was a band with an identity crisis. One song sounded like AC/DC, the next ZZ Top, the next The King Lot. You get the picture. As musicians, they were decent enough on a technical level but had trouble tying it together into one cohesive sound. It flattens the atmosphere that has steadily been building which their predecessors not only fed off but contributed to and the crowd’s attention just isn’t present. Though since I’m a bit of a cynic, having a bad support on before the headliner is a canny move as it makes them look better. Speaking of which…
Taking to the stage with “Glorious Domination” blasting through the PA, it’s their mission statement for the night. Because that’s exactly what unfolds. Anchor Lane prove by the end of “Runaway” that since their last gig (that I saw), it’s been worth the wait. With both that and “Eclipse”, they make sure the crowd are nice and comfortable with a couple of very familiar numbers before unshackling something brand new. “Found Out” is laden with groove, reminiscent of early Black Stone Cherry (otherwise known as when they made good albums), its vocal hook is still rattling around my brain and it shows how they’ve progressed as a band and songwriters with one of the strongest songs they’ve ever written. Between guitarists Conor Gaffney and Jack Nicol, the riffs are at their standard pristine levels with Jack a blur for most of the night and Conor more confident than ever when he chats with the crowd as well as being on fine vocal form.
Meanwhile, “Profits of War” is introduced with a snippet of that Charlie Chaplin speech. It’s a snarling snipe at the powers that be and again, shows the maturity the band are channelling. Bringing things down with the slow “Take Some Time”, it’s a display of a band in command as the crowd acquiesce but the breather is a welcome one. It’s here Matthew Quigley gets to flex his chops with his muscular basslines and making it look effortless. Although I couldn’t see drummer Scott Hanlon from my position, as always, he delivers. Finessing the hell out of his kit, he’s not overboard like many modern drummers, opting for a less is more approach. Then, we get a cover. “Anyone a fan of Top Gun?” frontman Conor Gaffney asks. “Oh, no,” I say to a friend. “I forgot my Aviators tonight!” Conor produces his own for what follows. You guessed it – “Danger Zone”. A great interpretation of an otherwise terrible song but to give the lads credit, it makes a change from covering the usual standards.
That aside, the band continue their assault with their final few songs in the shape of newcomer “Flatline” which is full of catchy-as-hell “na na na” sections and much like “Found Out”, it’s still stuck in my head. The final couple of songs come in the shape of “Rising Up” and having had a few shows with that, it’s bedded in extremely well before the staple closer of “Finished For Twelve”. Whilst the rest of the New Beginning material was notable in their absence, it shows how confident the quartet are in their new songs and it gave them a chance to road test some of the new work which are quickly going to be favourites.
Whilst I’ve repeated myself often in the past couple of years covering Anchor Lane, it has to be said for the umpteenth time – I’ve never seen them tighter. Visibly overwhelmed at the reaction they received from the start and that they sold out their hometown, the band ensured they gave it their all. Commanding their crowd with exceptional ease and professionalism, it’s a testament to how they’ve developed. As the band get ready for hitting festivals like Download and Isle of Wight, this was Anchor Lane re-affirming they’re the best band to come out of this town in decades.
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