Another month and yet another Rollers-related blog :-) But as you'll see, I just had to...
Found myself wandering those dirty streets of London last weekend. It gets old after a while. So by Sunday afternoon, once I had inspected those few still worthwhile record shops in and around Soho, I thought it ideal to unwind...in Stevenage. And of course by pure coincidence Mr. Leslie Richard McKeown just happened to be scheduled to revise "The Bay City Rollers Story" that very evening at the Gordon Craig Theatre, located where else but in the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre.
Ably supported by this stellar cast of characters: Si Mulvey (Bass); local boy Alex Toff (Drums); Alex Southgate (Keyboards), as well as none other that Phil Hendricks (Ex-Eric Faulkner's Bay City Rollers, believe it or not) on guitar, Les - much as he did on his last tour, "Rollermania" - told the story of the Bay City Rollers in words and music. On that tour, though, he felt the artistic urge to throw in a couple of covers ("Daydream Believer", "The Air That I Breathe") which, as excellent as they were, had no connection whatsoever to the Bay City Rollers. As far as I know. Even though Les did tell the story about the Rollers planning to record the latter for "Rollin'", but he must've been joking.
But that was then and this is now. No "needless" covers now, just the essential ones: "Bye Bye Baby", "Be My Baby", "I Only Wanna Be With You", and even "Please Stay" is thrown in for good measure.
I believe the band is better now than when I last saw them on the "Rollermania" tour - thanks mainly to Mr. Hendricks, the guitar God, and Alex Toff on the drums.
Musically, the show is tight - although there seems to be room for a few playful mistakes, which are then met with cheeky admission by the culprits in question. It's also carefully choreographed, which gives one a slight Vegas/cabaret feeling. But I found Les' stories and monologue not nearly as interesting and entertaining as on the "Rollermania" tour. After all, you probably can't tell the same stories twice without sounding just plain daft. And some of his banter with parts of the audience gets tiresome after a while and only disrupts the rhythm of the show.
Otherwise, it was an evening well spent. It was nice to hear seldom-performed songs such as "You're a Woman", "My Teenage Heart" and the aforementioned "Please Stay" (although, originally, it's probably the worst cover, the Rollers ever did, it sounds great in '12). And it is indeed a sad world which doesn't need the likes of "Let's Go" ....
Les is in fine voice these days - better than I believe I've ever heard him before. Obviously sobriety agrees with him. He looks fit and seems to be enjoying himself.
A fine new song - "The Word to Me", written by Les & Si - is aired for the first time on this tour. And although it's not as immediately catchy as "River of Love" from the "Rollermania" tour, it is a "grower". But where's the new CD, Les?! We're all waiting...
As far as I can recall, the 20+ track set list is something like this (the running order is probably not 100% accurate. Feel free to correct me):
All of Me Loves All of You
Rock & Roll Love Letter
Be My Baby
The Way I Feel Tonight
Keep on Dancing
My Teenage Heart
Summerlove Sensation/I Only Wanna Be With You
It's a Game
You're a Woman
Give a Little Love
The World to Me
Love Me Like I Love You
Bye Bye Baby (Encore)
The tour will continue for another month in the U.K. Given half the chance, do not miss it!