For four years it was my pleasure (and job) to bring rock music to Scotland. I had a blast and so did some of you, hopefully. To wrap it all up we had the Rock Radio: A Night Oot Before Christmas gig at the Cathouse on December 16 – here’s my review of the event.
Me, finally getting to gie it laldy – thanks to Iain Freeman for the pic
Some would say it was a gig too far.
We’d had the Rock Radio Farewell Tour show at the same venue a few months ago, so when Ted Rock and Donald McLeod arranged this, I was slightly wary.
In the end, my involvement was to introduce opening act The Coffins, mingle with Rock Radio listeners (still nursing a semi for the sadly defunct station) and most importantly arranging a rendition of SAHB’s Big Louie to bring the night to a close.
This proved more difficult when headliners The Constellations (or whatever) refused my request to commandeer their guitar, bass player and drummer. Apparently their guitar used ‘Drop B tuning’ and, I quote, ‘we don’t have time to learn any new material.’
Now, I have little knowledge of ‘Drop B tuning’ but I do know how to operate things called ‘tuning pegs’ – and learning Big Louie? Gimme a break!
As luck would have it, second on the bill Estrella (Spanish for ‘Star’) were up for it and not only lent me a guitar, their bass player and drummer but also introduced me to their personal sound man who looked older than me. (No, really.)
Now it’s common knowledge to anyone who’s been to a gig with me, the bane of my life is a sound guy who doesn’t have enough guitars in the mix. From Buckcherry at the Garage, Ted Nugent at the ABC to the band at my son’s wedding, I just have to say, ‘Haw, Baws for Brains! There’s a guy smashing fuck out of that plank of wood and ah canny hear him! Turn it up or I’ll break yer fuckin’ nose!’
It worked for The Coffins. My advice resulted in Joe and the boys sounding pretty damn good. But when Estrella hit the stage, I couldn’t believe my ears.
There was no guitar in the mix. Not a sausage. Bugger all.
This was reported by me to the Cathouse sound guy who nodded sagely before adding, ‘That’s what happens when ye let someone’s faither dae yer sound.’
Up I goes to the auld bloke in a Val Doonican cardigan at the desk, who agrees there’s no guitar in the mix.
‘I can’t find the correct fader,’ says Father Time.
I look at the desk and suggest we try the one marked ‘Guitar’.
‘Tried it,’ say’s Granddad. ‘It’s not there.’
He was right. My ramming of the fader produced not a bit of difference.
Eventually the problem was fixed by the sound guy – who’d put the wrong mic in the wrong channel. Young upstart. Estrella rocked, finally.
After their set, I took the youthfully challenged bloke outside for a much needed cigarette… and guess what?
His name is Ashley Howe and he’s a world famous record producer. Uriah Heep, Billy Squier, Ted fuckin’ Nugent! He’s done the lot.
And I’d suggested he try the fader marked ‘Guitar’? Another ‘Rankin Moment’.
We finally managed Big Louie with Chris Glen on bass and then I had to run for my train.
In reflection, we probably should’ve left the Rock Radio farewell thing alone. But it was great to meet up again with the listeners who’d spent all night telling Tom Russell how ‘shite Real XS is’ and he’d spent all night reluctantly agreeing.
Move on, me-thinks…Or not? Let me know what you think.