Stornowegians have rock in their hearts

Aww man.. what a night on Friday! I had the privilege of sitting in on a rehearsal for the Classic Rock Tribute Night and it was great.

I felt like I should be putting money in a tin afterwards, it was so good.

Some proper rock songs, played loud, with a heavy bass line, serious drums and plenty of sass. It was just what the doctor ordered and made me think about how much us coves and blones in Stornoway love our rock music. It’s pretty much part of the Leodhasach’s DNA.

They ran through tracks by the likes of Twisted Sister — check out this video of We’re Not Gonna Take It — the Rolling Stones and Springsteen, to name but a few, and I was still buzzing the next day.

The Classic Rock Tribute Night, in case you don’t know, is a live gig organised by Brian ‘Monty’ Montgomery and brings together loads of folk from the Stornoway music scene.

It’s the second Classic Rock Tribute Night. The first, last year, was in the Woodlands Centre and so popular that not everyone could get in. This year they have decamped to An Lanntair, which has much more capacity, but already half the tickets have gone… so get yours here before it’s too late!

I can vouch for it being a great night out. Those taking part include Monty, plus my very own hubby Jason Laing, Angie Murray, Calum ‘Thrash’ Macaulay and James Macleod – that’s a whole lot of guitar.

Drummers are DC Macmillan and Kevin Clark, while the singers are Fiona ‘Chasm’ Macleod, Adam Johnson, Iain ‘Frogey Beag’ MacKinnon and Iain ‘Neosa’ McKinnon (throwing the horns in the main picture). Alex Tearse is on keyboards and Calum Blane on saxophone.

It’s on from 8pm till 11pm on Saturday, April 1 and the set has been split into two parts, with only a few of the musicians playing both halves.

Altogether, there will be members from The Broken Ravens, Pandejo, Catch 22, Strange Brew, the Dun Ringles (that’ll be Jason and Frogey Beag), The Links, Rock Island Line and The Open Rotation.

While they were packing up on Friday, I asked Monty what made him decide to put on this show. “Did you hear how good it sounded..?” he said, looking at me like I was a bit of a crazy.

“I’ve got so many pals who play in bands,” he explained. “I just thought, ‘I want to play with all of them’.”

All the pictures you see here were taken in rehearsal at the Young Musicians studio on Friday night (March 17) and I was amazed at the number of tracks they nailed first time.

At one point, during Sweet Child O’ Mine, I caught Alex’s eye and he looked at me as if to say, ‘can you believe how good these guys are?’”

Loading up afterwards, he said: “It’s amazing — you hear these songs played live and you remember why they were so good in the first place.”

It got me thinking, what would I put in my own Top Ten of Stornoway Sounds? Yes, there are other sounds in town but, ultimately, I’m convinced we’re rockers.

I’ve narrowed them down. This is personal opinion — not the set list for the Classic Rock Tribute Night — and I look forward to the pelters from folk who can’t believe I left out their favourite.

Here are the songs that have always taken me home.

10. Cocaine — Eric Clapton

First time I heard this I was 11 and on a school trip to the Valtos Outdoor Centre. Somewhat strangely, Jason was one of the 16-year-olds playing (as was Iain ‘Grassy’ McGrath and the late, much missed, Mark Oscar). They were rocking out on top of the bunkbeds, faces all chalked up.

Up to that point, everything I had heard was innocuous or traditional (Robbie Shepherd’s Take The Floor always played in the house on a Saturday night). This turned me on to a different kind of music and I was transfixed.

9. Feel Like Making Love — Bad Company

Who remembers Fuzzy Duck playing in The Heb? I loved this song with a passion and Paul Rodgers’ voice still makes me come over all peculiar.

8. Hotel California – Eagles

Classic, classic, classic. Mysterious lyrics, much scrutinised over the years — is about an asylum? — and just a wonderful tune.

7. We Will Rock You / Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen

The only listing where I couldn’t pick between two tracks. I also want to put in Another One Bites The Dust, Save Me and I Want To Break Free.

Queen was the default soundtrack when we went ‘lapping’ as teenagers. This, for those who don’t know, is that curious island pastime of driving round and round town, blasting out tunes as you go.

I remember going lapping with BF Kathleen in her dad’s van, head banging away to Bohemian Rhapsody (driver too). Think Wayne’s World. Totally.

6. Another Brick in The Wall (Part 2) / Comfortably Numb — Pink Floyd

Okay, I lied. Another one where I couldn’t choose. Every time I hear Another Brick In The Wall I feel subversive. An erstwhile teacher, it speaks directly to my inner rebel. Great chorus. Great guitar solo by Dave Gilmour. Great beat.

And Comfortably Numb is just so lovely.

5. Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

No explanation necessary.

4. Sweet Home Alabama — Lynyrd Skynrd

So, so completely Stornoway. Every single chord. Reminds me of being downstairs in the Lewis public bar.

3. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns N’ Roses

Again, no words necessary.

2. Whisky In the Jar — Thin Lizzy but performed by Metallica

Yes, the original is great but I love this version by Metallica. They were big stars in our soundscape as we got older anyway, and it’s heavier than the original, which is a good thing

1. Back In Black — AC/DC

How many hours did we spend listening to this in the sixth year social area in the Nicolson, practising our Angus Young moves?

AC/DC always reminds me of Kathleen and my wee brother, Ali.

Fast forward many years and I’m throwing a party in my flat in Glasgow. It’s on the boring side till Kathleen and Crawford (looking very excellent in a kilt) appear. “Hey blone, got any AC/DC?” she says.

Back In Black changes everything.

“It was a bit shit till Kathleen got on the decks,” said Ali later.

I want to dedicate this humble wee blog post to Kathleen, Ali and Jason. For rocking out with me forever. XXX.

Keep on rocking, folks! (And get those tickets for the Classic Rock Tribute Night while you still can.)


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