Friday, 15 April 2011

Rollermania Les McKeown and his legendary Bay City Rollers

Rollermania
Les McKeown and his legendary Bay City Rollers
Congress Theatre
Eastbourne
16th April 2011


OK I'll be honest I'm not a huge fan of the Bay City Rollers and I went along more because my wife has been a fan for as long as she can remember.

But sometimes you can go to a production not expecting too much and come away pleasantly surprised.

This was certainly one of those occasions.

Somewhat predictably the women to men ratio was heavily biased to advantage of the females of our species. I wouldn't be surprised if , like me, the majority of the other men there were also out more for the enjoyment of their partner.

This isn't a huge budget gig by the former Bay City Roller by any means. No large articulated truck wheeling tons of acoustic equipment round the country. No a transit van will do the job and, for me, that was perfectly adequate as so many gigs have sound equipment that is just too powerful for the size of venue.

There aren't many people who can send an audience into hysteria from the first note but despite the fact we have only one genuine 'Roller' in this line up, Les McKeown, his female fans were on their feet from the off.

And that's the way it continued throughout the show. Many of the audience on their feet dancing, either where they were seated or at the front of the stage.

The 'Tartan Army' of Eastbourne did Les McKeown proud with many turning up in tartan adorned outfits and topping this up with more tartan merchandising at the show. Les even handed out many small tartan scarves during the gig.

Rollermania is a slightly different sort of gig. It's not all music by any means. No, with the assistance of a laptop autocue Les leads us through the full, and I have to admit interesting, full history of The Bay City Rollers. And I mean FULL history, not just the time he spent in the group from 1973 but the times he was not part of the line up too. It certainly is not a Les McKeown biography but a genuine Roller history.

The Rollers classic hits interspersed with these interesting snippets of musical history make for a great show.

But there was one thing about the presentation of this history that I particularly liked. Unlike many bands that have split over time this was not a verbal trashing of his former band members. Quite the opposite in fact, and whilst I am sure it must be tempting to 'bitch', he is actually quite complimentary. We learn what all the Rollers have gone on to do ante-Rollers and how he ended up in the group in the first place. If Les McKeown has a loathing for any former colleague it certainly does not come across in this script and I think that was the right way to go. There's no doubt about it the Rollers music is light-hearted and having a script that is all doom and gloom would have retracted from this.

Some may describe the Rollers music as cheesy and you could say there are definitely some exceptionally cheesy moments in this show as love struck devoted fans come up to the stage. Some have Les sing to them others seeking a kiss or cuddle. In fact I can not recollect any show, with any artist, quite managing to come up to such a high cheese rating. Alexander O'Neal had cheesy moments but he is barely a Dairylea cheese triangle compared to Les who is a humongous block of strong cheddar in comparison.

If there is any downside to the show it isn't the longest gig ever with around 100 minutes of performance time. But you can't really complain as the whole of the show is entertaining and Les went front-of-house after the show to sign memorabilia for anybody who wanted to stay. From what I could see, judging from the length of the queue, this was most of the audience! You can't knock an artist who finishes a great show at 9.40pm and who is still signing at 10.45 and the power of the Bay City Rollers is such that his female fans adore him.

Am I now a converted BCR fan? No I wouldn't say that but I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the show. This was much to my wife's amusement as I kept 'singing' Shang-a-lang for at least the next 24 hours!




Rollermania Les McKeown and his legendary Bay City Rollers 5/5
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