Edinburgh Fringe: I Ran With The Gang review *****

In the last eight or nine months, fans of veteran rockers the Bay City Rollers have been well and truly spoiled.

Indeed, after years of silence, 2016 has been a vintage one for followers of the tartan-clad Seventies sensations; what with the big reunion which saw Les McKeown, Alan Longmuir and Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood rocking once again to the Shang-A-Lang sound of the music at a series of sell-out gigs in the UK, talk of a new world tour, and the promise of a brand new album to follow soon.

Halcyon days. Or at least that’s how it looked until the cracks began to appear during the BCR’s recent appearance at T in the Park, after which ‘Woody’ said ‘bye bye baby’ to the band for a second time, before telling the red-tops that McKeown’s ‘greed’ had forced him to hang up his tartan breeks.

It was but the latest twist in a tale so unbelievable you couldn’t make it up.

As anyone who knows the tumultuous backstory of the Edinburgh band will tell you, though, there’s always drama where these guys are concerned. The history books show that the BCR’s stole the hearts of teeny-boppers everywhere on their way to becoming the biggest thing since The Beatles, only to self-destruct in spectacular fashion just a few years later. Then came years of acrimony as former members of the band fought for the millions they were owed but never received – a bitter legal battle that’s still raging on to this day.

If the story of the Bay City Rollers had been written for a novel or a screenplay, the entire plot would have been laughed at simply for being too nonsensical to be believed. As is so often the case, though, truth is stranger than fiction, and all of this drama, and plenty more, combine to make I Ran With The Gang riveting viewing – and not only for Rollers fans, but for anyone who likes a good yarn.

The show, written by award-winning playwright Liam Rudden (Thief, Silence In Court, Conflict In Court), is a celebration of those heady days of hit songs, hectic touring schedules, Top of the Pops appearances and the behind-the-scenes pandemonium that followed the Edinburgh band everywhere they went.

At its core, the play reveals the story of Longmuir, the original Bay City Roller. It’s fun, fast-paced, and features a set of the Rollers’ biggest hits, including Bye Bye Baby and Shang-A-Lang.

That the show ends with a Q&A with Longmuir himself is a neat touch, and on the night AAA caught the show, the one-time teen heartthrob answered the audience’s questions sincerely, before revealing that he has plans to record new music of his own – “maybe with a country and western flavour”.

But while this is very much Longmuir’s story, he’s not the only star of the show. Indeed, the entire cast are brilliant. Stephen Arthur expertly portrays a youthful Longmuir during the biographical part of the show, which tells the story of the Rollers’ meteoric rise, capturing both the young wannabe’s starry-eyed enthusiasm and his boy-next-door appeal. He was, after all, just a plumber from Edinburgh who dreamed of being a pop star.

John McColl is fantastic throughout, too, doubling up as both the show’s narrator and Tam Paton, the band’s pantomime villain of a manager. Stephen Humpage, meanwhile, completes the cast as frontman McKeown, doing a fine job lending his vocals to hits like All Of Me Loves All Of You, Saturday Night and Bye Bye Baby – all of which get the audience on their feet for a mass singalong towards the end of the show.

Now enjoying its third Fringe season at Le Monde, I Ran With The Gang offers a fantastic night of Seventies-tinged nostalgia. Highly recommended.

I Ran With The Gang, Le Monde Hotel, 5-28 August, 7pm, 0131-226 0000, www.edfringe.com

Photo credit: @susanrostron.com

COMMENTS

  • <cite class="fn">Janet Deighton</cite>

    Such a feel good show should be made into a movie as was sunshine on leith.
    It would be a smash!

    • <cite class="fn">Tangela</cite>

      Reminds me of new year restuloion where much planning is made at the start of the year and nothing much done for the rest of the 12 months . No Action Talk Only. Vivienne Quek´s last blog ..

  • <cite class="fn">Deborah Bull</cite>

    I was lucky to be able to see this again for the 2nd year. I ran with the gang should be shown in London i’m sure it would be a smash hit there as well 🙂

  • <cite class="fn">Gillian Watkins</cite>

    What a fantastic show ! Saw it for the first time on Opening Night & again tonight. Whether you’re a diehard Bay City Rollers Fan, someone who especially likes 70’s music, someone who loves any kind of music or someone who just likes a feel good show, you can’t miss this one…..oh & meeting the original Bay City Roller, Mr Alan Longmuir after the show is a delight & a pleasure !!

  • <cite class="fn">Heidi Northover</cite>

    I saw the North American premiere in Toronto, Ontario CANADA on July 27th of this year. It was awesome and brought back so many memories. I highly recommend it to any Roller fans young and old!

    • <cite class="fn">Darlene Santaw</cite>

      Hi! Where did they have this show on Toronto? I live in Whitby, but I never heard anything about this show?

  • <cite class="fn">Julie Boyce</cite>

    Fantastic show, recommend to anyone, brings back all the memories of when you were younger. The two Stephens are a joy to watch, “the younger Les” is full of enthusiasm when belting out all the hits, you can’t help but be transported back to your youth and start “rocking & rolling” in the aisles. A must see production

  • <cite class="fn">Rose Taylor</cite>

    Absolutely fabulous show well worth a visit! All the cast are fantastic & it’s gets you dancing in the aisles! Then meeting Alan as well just puts the icing on the cake!

  • <cite class="fn">Val Hutton</cite>

    Well an outstanding show I went twice loved it . It was like being back in the 70s again . Great acting and Alan was so amazing . A truly remarkable show a must see

  • <cite class="fn">Mary Donnelly</cite>

    I saw this show for first time on Friday 12th Aug. Fantastic show, venue very personal. Alan was a true gentleman meeting and greeting everyone. Shang-a-Lang everyone ❤️❤️❤️

  • <cite class="fn">Sandy Kumar</cite>

    It’s an awesome show. So so proud of Alan, who came back on the scene 3 years ago, making his return to the music world. Now this year is the third year running the show is on at the fringe. The show is a superhit. Absolutely brilliant, you learn something new every time you go to see it. ❤️

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