(Photo Credits: Michael Bruce)
On any given Saturday night, you can expect Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow to be busy and bustling as usual. However, on my walk down to The Garage, from a distance I instantly spotted a noticeable flurry of people outside of the venue, especially for half past six at night. This was because the Mason Hill boys were in town.
Not only did the guys sell out G2 but consequently had their show moved up to the main room – no easy feat for a local band and it seemed like the whole town had turned out to support them. In line with the show being moved, doors had been pushed back (and advertised as such on social media) to 6 pm. Usually, this would mean that most still wouldn’t arrive until 7 pm. But in this case, things were different. Anchor Lane were playing at 7 pm and it seems everyone attending was keen to catch them.
Anchor Lane hit the stage at 7 pm on the button. There’s been quite a furore around this band for a while, and having caught them with Bigfoot at the Hard Rock Café in April, I can see why. The boys hit the stage with a “Let’s go” and jump in head first to their track Twenty Sixteen. Instantly the band have energy comparable to The Treatment and singer, Connor Gaffney, embodies a young Aaron Buchanan in his stage presence. Usually, when a band instigate a clap-along in the first song, it isn’t usually met with much clout from the audience. However, this went down well, as did the first guitar solo. The band then moved straight into Hunter’s Heart, which is groove-heavy with a catchy hook. (Seriously, go and give it a listen.)
Without break, they slide into the third song of the set, Annie, seemingly unrelenting in their pace. This song is absolutely one of those tracks that you’d expect to hear on the cover CD of Classic Rock magazine (hint, hint). With call and response guitar work, it seemed a good portion of the audience already knew the words.
Eclipse begins with some chunky riffs and the band effortlessly flow between time signatures with ease, coming across as altogether more smooth and slithery than Slippery When Wet. Take Some Time provides the set with the ballad it requires, changing up the pace in the middle of their set and giving the audience some much-needed respite in order for round two. That respite was short lived as the band then threw themselves into their track Runaway, once again elevating the audience’s energy to record levels for a support act. It’s a funky track that truly allows bassist, Matthew Quigley, to shine.
The lads finish up with Finish for 12, which has an anthemic feel from the get go and you can feel exactly why they saved this track for last. If you watch the audience, you can see them all slowly begin to sway along in unison, although each in their own bubble totally transfixed on the band. By the end of the set, the whole entire room was clapping along and singing the song back to them – drowning out the PA. Bearing in mind - this is the support act, to say they owned it would be an understatement.
The room sways a little between bands, and a loyal following make their way to their barrier branded up in Mason Hill merch. Next up though is Deever. Having never heard of these guys before, I’m interested in what they've got to offer - especially as they are sandwiched on this bill. In the shadows of the changeover, I can already spot some backcombed blonde hair - so I'm already sold.
A dark apocalyptic noise precedes them before they hit the stage. They begin with track Fire At Will, which features some thundering drums and an altogether more heavy sound than first expected to when you first see them. (Don't judge a book by its cover and all that!) By the second track, Not Back Down, I’m still unsure of which genre best describes them. With some vocal harmonies that suggest AOR, this juxtaposes the heavy rhythm section and hard rock melody line.
The band then took a break from the music to have a bit of banter with the audience, opening with “You're wondering who the fuck we are”. And he’s right, most of us are. We then found out that it’s their first ever gig as a band tonight – which as an audience member, you would never have guessed at all. Before kicking into track Alright, they tell the crowd “We're gonna play a bunch of songs you've never heard before, cause obviously, we're brand new.” Nevertheless, the audience, although flatter in energy, remained engaged and interested.
The fourth song, Monster, was the catchiest of the set (covers aside) and I found myself singing along with the ‘Married A Monster’ refrain and this one had a big cheer from the audience. The first cover of the night came in the form of What I’ve Done by Linkin Park owed to the late Chester Bennington. It’s a risky cover choice given the demographic of the audience and the style/genre of the other two bands on the bill. Nevertheless, the band manage to pull it off by keeping it in their own style and roughing it up a bit by adding a squealing guitar solo.
Waves, although seemingly soft and tender builds to a crescendo that’s reminiscent of L.A. Guns new release, Speed. The second cover of the set, Rebel Yell courtesy of Mr Billy Idol, warmed the crowd back up again and they raised their clenched Billy fists in union. Overall, although the guys delivered a great set and were a tight unit for their first gig, the very nature of it being their first gig meant that it left the crowd slightly flat as they couldn’t join in.
Definitely one to watch for the future and it’s likely that you’ll see this band on the bill at next year’s HRH AOR.
Mason Hill's merch game is strong, with their branded t-shirts worn by the majority of the crowd, it seems to be the uniform of the evening. (God help you if you lost your friend in the crowd and could only identify him as wearing a leather jacket and a Mason Hill t-shirt!) Needless to say, there’s a huge buzz around this band. Having caught the guys before in their early days, supporting Falling Red in Ivory Black's (2015) I know exactly why and remember thinking at the time that they’d go far.
By the time the band were ready to hit the stage, the place is rammed full and you could feel the sweat in the air halfway up the staircase outside. There's a strong sense of 'coming home' at this gig, even though they've never left and a healthy dose of Glasgow pride and 'the boy done good' mentality. They kill the lights and atmospheric music begins and a ferocious roar denotes their arrival - in more ways than one way.
Starting things off with Broken Son, you can tell they have the feel of a band much bigger than their current stature. From the get go, singer, Scott Taylor, brandished the mic stand around within the first few bars. They had the entire room in the palm of their hand within an instant and the crowd go absolutely wild at the end of the first song.
Somewhere Else sees the boys encompassing the stage, swarming every inch of it, and quite rightly so. It was theirs.
By song number three, Your Memory, you can hear that the band are well produced and sound almost American – with comparisons to Black Stone Cherry and Alter Bridge. They do this brand of Glasgow Americana so well by not making the mistake, as so many other bands do, by pretending to be American and most importantly, Mason Hill don’t sing about issues that don’t pertain to them. Although this show moved up and consequently the band are playing a stage far more grandiose than initially intended, they seem more than more than comfortable doing so.
Now You See Me is a firm fan favourite, and a track the band recently made a music video for. As a result, you can hear the audience sing every word of this song at an audible level. And the band utilise the breakdown to introduce themselves – as if they needed any introduction. A truly rapturous applause followed this song. We're not used to this they say, well it seems like they better get firmly acquainted with it as there’s no way back after tonight.
Next up, Out Of Reach, sees the band show off just how aggressive and powerful they can be without being raw and uncut and unlike many other bands, they don’t run off and end up playing the songs too fast at a pace they can’t keep up with. Scott holds his own up there as a bonafide frontman, but every now and then you see a glimmer of just how big this gig really is for them and how overwhelming the support they have really is.
The band then gave us a sneak peek into what they have in store for us with the release of the new album next year by playing the track, Blame. This is one of those ‘You heard it here first’ moments and perfectly complements their existing back catalogue. This was followed by an incredible cover of Simple Man, instead of the usual Mississippi Queen, which allowed guitarists James Bird and Marc Montgomery to show off just how talented they are.
After masterfully conducting the crowd’s energy into a lull, the boys then ramped this back up and smashed into another new track called No Regrets from the forthcoming album followed by Survive. By this point, they are so soaked with sweat that they begin to douse themselves with water as they're already sodden through - as are the crowd, in more ways than one!
The highlight of the set, well for me personally, was the band’s cover of Cochise, a tribute to the late, great Chris Cornell and Billy, frontman of Deezer, joins the band on stage for the Audioslave cover. They absolutely slay this and the crowd is a sea of beers in one hand and iPhones in the other, lighting up the room and recording the moment for posterity.
The band then admit that they don’t do encore's, they’re the type that don’t deal in bullshit and wanted to say goodbye to their audience properly. So, to end their "homecoming" show, they end with tour-bus-sounding Where I Belong. Similar in vibe to Chris Daughtry’s Home, the crowd joined in with the obligatory oh oh his singing the night to sleep. And with a punch of glitter and an epic guitar solo, the boys well and truly bring it home and bring the evening to a close.
**PHOTOGRAPHS MAY ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT FROM MB Photos Scotland / DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA**