Fresh from performing at Rockmantic Festival a few weeks prior, Glaswegians Mason Hill kicked off the month of March with their debut hometown headline gig. Winners of 2016’s Hard Rock Hell – Highway To Hell competition, the five piece have been gaining fans and plaudits alike with their solid live performances, and the timing was right to take it one step further. End result? A sold out venue jam packed with family members, fans that have been along for the ride from day one, and those coming along to see what the fuss was all about.
Kicking the evening off was the ten-legged hairy beastie from Carnforth known as Massive Wagons. Arguably one of the best ‘new’ live acts currently treading the boards in venues up and down the length and breadth of Britain today. Hard, catchy rock n’ roll, which has some people in the crowd actually dancing… yes dancing! Proper crap dad dancing. ‘Ratio’ has the crowd bouncing along with the infectious energy from madman singer Baz Mills. ‘Tokyo’, ‘The Day We Fell’, and ‘Red Dress’ all feature the crowd bellowing out the words with reckless abandon that can mean only one thing; it’s Friday night, and work is a distant memory. The band pay their respects to Rick Parfitt with a bit of Status Quo, rocking back and forth on new track ‘Back To The Stack’. Quality boogie, inspired by a great British band that deserve better recognition than they get. Job done, and another notch in the Wagons bed post. Miss this band at your peril.
Maybe it was the fact that Massive Wagons put on such a strong show, or that the venue was rammed with family and friends, or it was the debut hometown headline gig, or a combination of all three, but Mason Hill were on fire, as they set about showing exactly what all the fuss is about. Any nerves were not visible as the band steamrollered through a set made up of tracks from their debut EP, some new ones, and a few choice covers.
‘Your Memory’, ‘Survive’, ‘Now You See Me’, and ‘Where I Belong’ make up the debut EP, and all are welcomed like conquering heroes returning home triumphantly. Mason Hill’s sound is big on hooks and anthemic like qualities, and new song, ‘Learn To Let It Go’ continues in the same vein. A quiet, softer intro gradually builds into an arena-sized future anthem with a stunning solo from lead guitarist James Bird. The EP has been out for some time now so new material is critical and judging by this one, recent time spent in the studio has been time well spent. Another new track, ‘Follow You’, is aired during a short acoustic interlude that saw Bird and vocalist Scott Taylor slow proceedings down, before second guitarist Marc Montgomery joins them for a stripped back cover of ‘In The Air Tonight’. The remaining band members troupe back on as Mason Hill head into the home straight. Former Sensational Alex Harvey Band bassist, and current member of Mason Hill’s management team, Chris Glen, joins the band for a glorious romp through the SAHB classic ‘Midnight Moses’, a song that has one of the greatest grooves ever, and the youngsters do it justice. ‘Where I Belong’ brings the set to it’s conclusion, and Mason Hill stand back and soak up the applause. A betting man would stick some money on these guys repeating the action on larger stages, and with larger crowds, in the not too distant future.
Scott Taylor is growing in confidence with each gig, and developing into quite a frontman; charismatic, humble, and in possession of an almighty voice. Then again, a singer is only as good as the guys alongside him, and Taylor has exceptional players watching his back. James Bird might seem shy on stage, but his playing is anything but shy and retiring. His lead work is blinding, and he teams up well with Montgomery, who also brings some six-string fireworks to the party. Bassist, Matthew Ward is also a member of Attica Rage, and playing with them at events like Bloodstock has brought him an invaluable amount of experience. He looks like he was born to be on stage, and the stereotypical image of a “quiet” bassist plodding away in the background just does not apply to him. His partner in rhythm, drummer Craig McFetridge, is a blur of hair and flailing arms as he puts in one hell of a shift at the back. Combined, the five guys of Mason Hill are living proof of what a great work ethic can bring. The songs, the playing, the image… all fit nicely into one finely-tuned machine. Get on board for the ride.
Review – Dave Stott
Images – Dave Jamieson