Back in the 70’s, the Bay City Rollers were a phenomenon, a world-wide success story with millions of hysterical, adoring fans following their every move. My cousin was a tartan-clad, die-hard devotee who amassed mounds of memorabilia and went to their first Australian concert chaperoned by her father, who was called upon to assist the venue with the enormous number of fainting teens. Such was the mayhem that ensued wherever they went that Rollermania was the term used to describe the teenage frenzy they created.
Fast forward to 1 July 2017 and I was treating that cousin to a Les McKeown meet’n’greet. We hadn’t seen each other in years and I wanted to surprise her with something very special, an opportunity to meet her one and only teen idol. Having met several of my own idols, I wanted her to experience the same highs as I have. The look on her face was priceless, as was her delight and exhilaration as she stood before the subject of her many teenage dreams. Looking relaxed, a warm and receptive McKeown happily chatted as he signed our items and hugged us tight as we posed for photos. Even without the show, my cousin said her night was complete, such was her joy at meeting Les.
With grins as wide as Luna Park, we went to our seats and eagerly waited for the show to commence. I was about 10 years old and obsessed with Abba when BCR were at their peak. As I only knew 3 or 4 songs, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.
The venue was at capacity, bursting with mainly excited, female fans who were keen to see their poster boys come to life. The BCR juggernaut had steamrolled into town and Rollermania was alive and thriving in the suburbs! Let the show begin…
As the lights dimmed, anticipation ruled the atmosphere and many rushed to the very small area in front of the stage to be near their hero. As Les McKeown and the band hit the stage and belted out their numerous hits, I realised we were in for a classic rock’n’roll show with a band of serious musicians who take pride in their music.
Opening with ‘Summerlove Sensation’, McKeown strolled across the stage, with his hand brushing past the many dreamy-eyed women, their palms raised and eagerly awaiting his magic touch. Those that missed out were more than happy to caress his feet! Like a messiah, he was being worshipped and adored. They had waited a long time for this moment and they were making the most of it.
During ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’, as he walked through the crowd, his allure became apparent. This former teen idol knew how to engage and charm his loyal audience who waved their records and tartan scarves around, treasured mementos they’ve been coveting for years. Tonight, they were young again, re-living precious memories, and creating new ones, with the Legend standing before them.
Keeping up the momentum, next up was my favourite, ‘Rock’n’Roll Love Letter’, followed by ‘Be My Baby’ where McKeown kneeled at the end of the stage and kissed one very smitten lass. The pace slowed some with ‘Give a Little Love’ and ‘Love Me Like I Love You’, and there was certainly a lot of love in the room tonight!
This was nostalgia at its best, led by a cheeky, animated and endearing front man who set many hearts a flutter, not just with his looks but with great toe tapping, fist pumping, bop-till-you-drop music. I have to say, I was hooked! Some numbers had a cheerful 50s/60s flavour that I could imagine being played in the malt shops and diners of that era, whilst others were right at home in the glam rock era. Lots of happy, sing-a-long melodies that make you want to get up and dance or just party in your seat. If you weren’t compelled to move any part of your body with the beat, there is something wrong with you! This music is uplifting and harmonious, I couldn’t wait to hear more.
Not one to rest on his laurels, McKeown played ‘Beautiful’, a catchy new number that was received well by the captivated crowd. He assured us more new music was on the way.
As the evening progressed, images of yesteryear, mixed in with recent photos, told the BCR story on the large screens. Has it really been 40 years? Tonight was a celebration of great music, teenage desires and music idols that live on in the hearts of their fans forever. It’s true, with such adulation, music like theirs couldn’t die!
A highlight of the evening was a fabulous tribute to legends Freddie Mercury, Mark Bolan, Brian Connolly (The Sweet), Alvin Stardust, Les Gray (Mud) and David Bowie. The band were on fire as they ignited the room with this blazing medley of hits. The atmosphere was so charged, I’m certain some people were about to self combust from over excitement!
During ‘Saturday Night’, audience participation was a must as they chanted ‘S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y Night’ when the microphone was held before them. Other hits during the evening included ‘Money Honey’, ‘The Bump’, ‘Please Stay’ and an ode to their Scottish heritage with ‘The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’.
Then it was on to mega hits ‘Yesterday’s Hero’, ‘Shang-A-Lang’ and a bittersweet Encore with ‘Bye Bye Baby’. And goodbye it was; as it ended all too soon, I found myself yelling for more, MORE!
Going back over this review, whilst listening to my new BCR CD, I realise that I have perhaps just penned my own Rock’n’Roll Love Letter. As I hum the tune and look forward to another 2 shows, is it too soon to ask for another tour?
Another chapter in Rollermania history has been written and, this time, I was a part of it. Thank you Les McKeown and Bay City Rollers for showing me what I’d been missing out on all these years. I will definitely be paying more attention in the future!
© ANNA BARTLE 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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