For a band that are so widely considered to be one of Scotland’s most famous exports, the amount of mystery that surrounds the demise of the Bay City Rollers and what became of its members post-tartan-induced-hysteria, is somewhat surprising.
In an attempt to shed some light on life behind the scenes with the tartan-clad band, producer Billy Lowe and award-winning playwright Liam Rudden have teamed up with founding member and original bassist, Alan Longmuir, to stage And I Ran With The Gang at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Despite the long-standing rumours of acrimony, financial ruin and substance abuse that seem to plague the band’s legacy, And I Ran With The Gang is a fast-paced and upbeat celebration of their rise to the top of the charts that will have Roller fans dancing in the aisles and reminiscing about the days when mullets were hot and platform shoes were cool.
Ewan Petrie is fantastic at portraying a youthful and wide-eyed Alan Longmuir during the biographical part of the show, which tells the story of the Rollers’ meteoric rise from Edinburgh’s Palais de Danse to Top of the Pops from his perspective. The young actor captures Alan’s ‘everyman’ appeal perfectly and he had the entire audience quietly singing along with his beautiful acoustic rendition of Shang-A-Lang.
John McColl doubles up as both the shows narrator and Tam Paton, the band’s notoriously controlling manager, whilst Alistair Grant completes the cast as frontman Les McKeown. Whilst Grant injects some welcome comedy into the show, it is during the musical numbers that he really shines as a true showman.
Rollermania made a cameo as the show came to a close when the real Alan Longmuir joined the cast of And I Ran With The Gang to perform a selection of the Rollers’ greatest hits, including Shang-A-
Lang and Give A Little Love. The teen-idol-turned-plumber-turned-Fringe-performer then partook in a question and answer session, during which most of the audience opted to shower praise on the show rather than ask him anything about his former life. And, quite frankly, that in itself says all you need to know about And I Ran With The Gang.
And I Ran With The Gang – The Story of the Original Bay City Roller is on at Le Monde (Venue 408) until Thursday, August 21. For tickets and more information, visit https://www.edfringe.com.