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Review: Bay City Rollers starring Les McKeown, Ipswich Corn Exchange, Sunday, January 10

22:42 10 January 2016

Bay City Rollers' frontman Les McKeown was on top form at Ipswich Corn Exchange.

Bay City Rollers' frontman Les McKeown was on top form at Ipswich Corn Exchange.

Archant

Former teen idol McKeown rolled back the years as Rollermania returned to town tonight.

Bay City Rollers fan Heather Lindsell with her original 1975 ticket. Photo: Lucy TaylorBay City Rollers fan Heather Lindsell with her original 1975 ticket. Photo: Lucy Taylor

Expecting a gentler response to when the original line-up visited Ipswich in the mid-1970s, the tartan army was out in force and taking no prisoners. Women across the hall reverted to screaming teenagers the moment he appeared.

Holding the band’s trademark scarves above their heads, people stormed to the front of the stage before the first song had even started and didn’t budge. By the time the second half got under way fans were elbow to elbow, even spilling into the aisles.

McKeown and his excellent four-piece band had to postpone their gig last December when he lost his voice days before. He sounded croaky when I spoke to him earlier in the week and explained to the packed crowd he was still “a wee bit ill” before assuring the ever growing front row he wasn’t infectious.

Nobody cared, stretching and jostling for a touch of their childhood dreamboat. You could tell he was struggling, but his vocals were spot on and the band were tight throughout.

Bay City Rollers fans Linda Tooke and Janet Baldwin. Photo: Lucy TaylorBay City Rollers fans Linda Tooke and Janet Baldwin. Photo: Lucy Taylor

I was just two or three years old when the Rollers were at the height of their fame so a lot of tonight’s numbers were new to me. Great songs are timeless though, working their way into the subconscious of generation after generation of music lovers. Even I knew Shang A Lang.

They paid special attention to the band’s first full-length album, 1974’s Rollin’. Songs including Give It To Me now - which many fans were too young to hear live back in the day and too old to act on now, joked McKeown - and Saturday Night were among the crowdpleasers. An impromptu a capella duet with some particularly fiesty fans had everybody baying for the real thing, which came during the much demanded encore.

People were still singing and dancing as they left. Turns out you’re never too old to rock ‘n’ roll.

Read my chat with McKeown here and see this Saturday’s East Anglian Daily Times for more fan pictures and memories.

Wayne Savage

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