Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow 11.12.2021
“I belong to Glasgow, dear old Glasgow town”, they certainly do, and Glasgow belongs to them! The famous Barrowland Ballroom has seen GUN play many times and will again as the band announced they have released tickets for 2022 already. GUN have always had a “swagger” and they back that up by playing sell out shows. Dante and Jools continue to rock beyond their 30th Anniversary in 2019 and continue to go from strength to strength.
From bars to barras, Gin Annie may have started as a ‘covers’ band but they have cemented themselves as a rock-solid original outfit. In true rock fashion, the guitars were out front and, in your face, underpinned by hard hitting drums and solid pumping bass. No stranger to a big stage, having recently played WInterstorm, Gin Annie relished playing the Barrowland Ballroom, some way from the heart of the Black Country where they hail from. The band’s visual look is split, with David Foster (Vocals), Byron ‘Beej’ Garbett (Guitar) and Lewis ‘The Kid’ Turner (Drums) all with a clean-cut short hair look and Brian Green (Guitar) and Phil ‘Hammer’ Burrows (Bass) rocking the more traditional NWOBHM look. Their music is hard hitting, melodic and punchy. Their opener “Love ain’t here” is also the opening track from their 2019 album 100% Proof. The album would feature five songs, a short set but 25 minutes of essential rock. The closing number “Born to rock ‘n’ roll”, is a mission statement for the band, although, the set list was titled “The Schwarma King is King Show” which may allude to other interests and at the bottom it read “if she loves the haggis… You know where the shag is” proves their love off food and more! Tongue in cheek and good old rock ‘n roll. What more could you ask for?
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The Virginmarys are one of the must-see bands of 2021. They may have dropped to a 2 piece but still maintained the energy and drive. Ally Dickaty and Danny Dollan’s compact set up on the big stage at the Barrowland Ballroom palled into insignificance as their huge sound more than compensated for their lack of numbers. There were six new songs for the discerning fan, and they were bolstered with four killer set essentials. “Portrait of Red” and “Dead Man’s Shoes” from the band’s first album were preceded by a new track “Meds” and there was no sign that the new material wouldn’t match the seminal songs of that 2013 album. “Lies Lies Lies” another hammering new track, saw Danny continue to kick the shit out of his kit to the point of having the crew push some monitors in front of the kick drum to stop it trying to escape the sever kicking! Ally’s vocal deliver almost sounds painful as his vocal intensity is like Kurt Cobain on steroids. It’s almost an instrument of destruction. “NYC” and “Devil Keeps Coming” start off with the tell-tale Guitar/Bass simulation that is inherent where one instrument replicates both. Yes, it has been all done before but Ally has mastered it and proven it can be an incredible method of delivery.
“Just A Ride” is a timeless classic, its subject matter resonates with us all. One of the standout songs of the night was “Where are you now”, another heart wrenching guttural cry from the heart which almost compliments the previous song. The last new song of the night “Killer” rounded off the new material and demonstrated sometimes less is more!
The dynamic duo closed out with “Bang Bang Bang” it was a powerful performance and the new tracks will hopefully see the light of day soon, possibly in the form of a few E.P’s. If you get the chance, check these guys out.
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The stage was stripped bare after The Virginmarys departed. A strange sight for a “rock show”, as the familiar amplifier stacks were missing and only the drum kit was on stage, and a huge LED screen at the back. The aforementioned famous song from Andy Stewart was played over the PA and GUN nonchalantly strolled on stage, no “swagger” but that was no indicator that the band had not lost it.
The band kicked off their set with the two opening tracks of their last album “Favourite Pleasures”. “She Knows” is a perfect opener, upbeat and tight, it engaged the crowd straight away. Dante Gizzi has grown into his lead role with the band, having moved from Bass to vocals what seems like a lifetime ago. “Jools” Gizzi is right on the edge of the stage from the start, strutting his stuff and launching his guitar, like a gun! The clean-cut modern rock sound of the band is indicative of the times. The Yamaha guitars employed by Gizzi and Tommy Gentry suit the high energy being demanded. The entire show had a backdrop LED screen and amusingly, there was a compilation of Scottish world cup football highlights of a by gone era. The fabulous sight of Archie Gemmill’s goal against the Dutch, where it looked like he was “Taking on the world”. Rather fittingly, the first track from that iconic first album “Taking on the World” was the soundtrack to the visuals and the crowd lapped it up as they mouthed the words back to the band. “Something to believe in” dropped the pace but brought the familiarity with the long-standing fans. The trip down memory lane continued with “Money” which still has that late 80’s/90’s rock feel. Moving on from that first album, “Welcome to the real world” was up next. The lyric’s almost have a poignant meaning in today’s world. The guitar mastery of Tommy was on show for the first time as he showed he is more than a “hired gun”. Gentry and Gizzi swap solos like a pair of “gunslingers” before Dante brings it back. The nostalgia was parked as the title track of their last album showed they had not stood still musically and had evolved their sound but still retained some classic guitar licks. The hit’s kept coming and “Word Up” was one of the highlights of the set, one of the bands biggest hits and saw the crowd bouncing in unison to the beat. Synchronised arm waving showed the crowd did care contrary to the lyric “Raise your hands in the air like you just don’t care”, they do! It was a bold to song cover back in the day, but GUN own almost own it. The band slipped back into full on rock mode with “Don’t say it’s over” as the crowd filled in at the chorus. Another killer solo from Tommy and great work from Paul McManus on drums. Dante utters, “We’re warming up” and that was probably more of a reference to the crowd as the were now almost in full flow. “Inside Out” proved they were as the fist pumping and chorus singing was at its height. The band closed out their main set with “Steal your fire” as the crowd were in full voice right to the back of the room.
The band were off stage for literally one minute as Dante returned and said they were easily persuaded to return as it was the barrowlands. Dante explained that during the lockdown, when he was struggling for inspiration to write new material, he and Jools decided to re-work the iconic song “Better Days”. Admittedly, having heard it recently, apart from being slowed down slightly, it’s faithfully reproduced. Live, it sounds almost like the original, but I doubt the crowd even noticed as they were too engrossed in the moment. Such an apt song as we all hope for better days. GUN turn back the clock with their encore and Andy Carr’s bass was pumping as “Shame on you” signalled the final GUN song of the night. The entire building was rocking and the band amped it up with their final song, “Fight for your right” the classic Beastie Boys song and they nailed it. Dante adorned a baseball cap for the song, and he could’ve easily passed himself off as one of the NY rappers. The crowd partied and after a final selfie with the entire audience, they slipped off stage. No fills, no drama, no swagger but still gallus.