Saturday 10 December 2016

Review: Former hearthrobs keep rolling

Pop: Bay City Rollers, Vicar Street, Dublin

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

At the announcement of the reunion of Bay City Rollers (left to right) Alan Longmuir, Les McKeown and Stuart Wood.
At the announcement of the reunion of Bay City Rollers (left to right) Alan Longmuir, Les McKeown and Stuart Wood.

What if One Direction were to grow old and, beyond a fast-shrinking fanbase, half forgotten? Horrifying though such a scenario may strike anyone aged 12 or younger, it will eventually come to pass, with results that might look awfully like this reunion show from the original teen heartthrobs (with silly hair), Bay City Rollers.

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An unlikely splicing of dreamy 60s pop and late 70s Scottish nationalism, the Edinburgh outfit parachuted into the charts just as prog rock was burning out and punk starting.

Not that they had much to do with either. They instead furnished a generation of teens with saccharine singalongs, gaining an international fanbase referred to, somewhat ominously, as the "Tartan Horde".

Forty years on, original frontman Les McKeown is the guardian of the group's legacy. He strode casually from the wings, shirt teasingly unbuttoned almost to his chest-hair. This seemed to please the uber-fans up the front, who wore giant floppy tartan hats and clapped along even to the wailing bag pipes that heralded the band's arrival (the unflagging devotion of the Rollers' following was underscored by the complainant who recently took an unsuccessful case against the BBC over the broadcaster's reluctance to play the BCR smash Bye Bye Baby).

The music was less sensational than the frontman's swagger, though still winningly rollicking. From opener Summer Love Sensation to Give A Little Love via covers of Dusty Springfield and The Four Seasons, it was a performance steeped in wistful memories, no matter that McKeown was chipper and businesslike throughout.

The slushiness was naturally unrelenting. Then teen anthems are supposed to be slushy - if they weren't what would be the point? Bay City Rollers are a reminder that there was life before One Direction, Five Seconds Of Summer and the rest - and that adolescent pop will endure long after the current incumbents have slouched into the sunset.

Irish Independent

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