I Ran With the Gang: The Story of Alan Longmuir, the Original Bay City Roller

Now in its third year at the Fringe, I Ran With The Gang written by Liam Rudden for his company LR Stageworks returns this year to the cosy yet lavish surroundings of Le Monde in uptown George Street. For audiences unfamiliar with the lyrics of 1970s pop, the show is subtitled The Story Of Alan Longmuir, the original Bay City Roller. I Ran With The Gang is the hook from Shang-A-Lang and, as we find out, was also the title of the TV series which the band hosted back in the day.

As both a drama and music piece, this show could stand alone but with the subject being present and active it takes on a new level of authenticity, approval and acclaim.

Several little known facts are revealed for Rollers fans and for many new fans a discovery as to the origins of the phenomenon that became the Bay City Rollers. The return of this production to the Fringe coincides with the revival of the original band’s fortunes too. Three of the originals came together for a Hogmanay show last year along with four sell-out shows in Glasgow Barrowlands and even at the T in the Park festival last month. This play also had an international debut at a fans convention in Canada just recently so the timing of this Fringe production is completely warranted.

The show develops in several ways and on different levels. Unsuspecting audience members may think it is just a dramatised life story as the music (with live vocals) kicks in only in the second half. There is also a chat show aspect where the audience can quiz the star himself.

As both a drama and music piece, this show could stand alone but with the subject being present and active it takes on a new level of authenticity, approval and acclaim. We hear of the humble beginnings of the boy plumber who played in The Saxons at weekends. Stephen Arthur plays young Alan, engaging with the audience and convincing svengali Tam Paton (played by John McColl) to manage the band. Though it wasn’t an overnight success, things changed with the addition of singer Les, who is played by Stephen Humpage.

Authentic images of the day are projected on a backdrop but sadly were lost due to a star curtain obscuring a clear view. As the music element starts, we are introduced to Alan Longmuir himself on vocals and guitar and the hits just keep on coming (as said in the 70s). Keep On Dancing, Summerlove Sensation, All Of Me Loves All Of You and the big No. 1 Bye Bye Baby are all handled convincingly by Humpage. Alan himself handles vocals on Rock n’ Roll Honeymoon and the sensational big closing song is still to come.

I expect ladies of a certain age would find it hard to contain themselves up close and personal with a legend in such an intimate, revealing and reflective setting. While no photos or videos are allowed during the performance, the boys stayed around in the foyer after the show for some new memories.

Reviews by John Murray

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The Blurb

The 2014-15 smash hit sell-out show returns starring Alan Longmuir. Written by award-winning playwright Liam Rudden and featuring the hit songs Bye Bye Baby, All Of Me Loves All Of You, Keep on Dancing, Summerlove Sensation, Saturday Night, Give A Little Love and Shang-a-Lang! So, don your tartan and get ready to run with the gang one more time. Rollermania is back! ‘Fantastic night of nostalgia!’ (Edinburgh Evening News).