It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’roll) – Run GMP at Mallowstreet Rocks 2014

Neil Copeland

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Train kept a rollin’ all night long

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty…

Glasgow Central and its déjà vu all over again. Run GMP are on the night train to London, ready to rock the O2 Academy Islington as part of Mallowstreet Rocks 2014.

More déjà vu in the on board bar as Alan “I never used the Company credit card to buy you that drink last year” Collins gets a round in. So, let me be clear, Alan bought this round with his own hard earned cash. I know he did because, once he’d remembered the right combination,  I saw the notes emerge from his wallet, along with a surprising number of moths and a faintly musty odour. Not that I’m one for cultural stereotyping!

Euston station, and it’s cold and bright. The Divine Miss S is somewhere in First Class, contemplating a shower and a proper breakfast. The rest of us who travelled cattle class pile into a taxi with our gear, fuelled only by some very anemic railroad coffee.

The same primeval natural force that sees  salmon returning unerringly to the stream of their birth, leads us to the same greasy spoon café that we breakfasted at last year. And they still serve chips with their full English! This must be the endless bliss of which Keats wrote!

Fast forward to the sound check. Boys of Summer sounding good.

Across the road to the Spence pre party. Rock ‘n’ roll cocktails, finger food, Run GMP tee shirts and pink inflatable guitars!

Lots of people have pulled on their fabulous, limited edition Run GMP tee shirts. One of the guests who isn’t wearing one walks up to me (he’ll remain nameless for the purpose of this tale, but he’s the dude in the Muse tee-shirt in the photos on the Spence Facebook page). He checks out my Alterbridge tee shirt and says “Another proper rock band tee shirt, not a Run GMP one!” clearly seeking to bond with a kindred spirit. I gently explain that I’m the guitarist in Run GMP and that we are, most definitely, a proper rock band. I spoke to him again later and think, by the end of the night, he was prepared to concede the point!

Back to the venue.

We’re on second so we have to head down to the dressing room backstage for a final tune up during the first set from 51st State. This year we don’t get to use the “Living on a Prayer” stairs. Instead we get the lift and find ourselves in the little area directly behind the stage waiting to go on. Adrenalin building.

And then we’re onstage plugging in our gear.

Lights! Sound! Guitars! Drums! Let there be rock!

Er…….not!  One of the band members (he’ll remain nameless for the purpose of this tale, but he’s the dude in the Alterbridge tee-shirt in the photos on the Spence Facebook page) isn’t getting any sound through his amp. He checks a few things and still nothing. The friendly sound engineer wanders on stage and immediately spots that the lead to the amp is plugged into the wrong socket.

Pause. Rewind. Play!

Boys of Summer, Papa Don’t Preach, Personal Jesus, Call Me, Fat Bottomed Girls, fly by in a storm of high energy rock n roll. Crowd reaction is great. We run through what can only be described as a truly awesome version of Hard to Handle. Inspired by Conchita Wurst’s stunning victory at the Eurovision song contest I’m moved to dedicate our final song of the night to bearded ladies everywhere and we launch into a rollicking, high octane Gay Bar. Two minutes of joyous noise.

And the judges think we nailed it and have set the bar for the evening. They ask us about our supported charity for this year which is Nordoff Robbins – please check out the video posted on the band’s Facebook page to get an insight into the great work this organisation does.

The standard of the other bands is very high this year. Higher than last year. And we finish third. People have asked me if I’m disappointed. All I know is we played our socks off and I think we were awesome. The bands who “beat” us were also pretty awesome. Where they better? They were different, certainly. I can’t feel hard done by because someone preferred one awesome band over another awesome band. Again this year there was great spirit of friendly rivalry between the bands – 51st State, Decapitator, Pink Torpedo and eventual winners BlackRocket – that camaraderie is an important part of the event.

A few thank-yous. The band, and me personally, are very conscious that our participation at Mallowstreet Rocks isn’t possible without the support of the Company and we really appreciate that – no other company makes the effort we do. Thanks also to Sophie and the Marketing team for the hard work put in to make the evening a great success from a corporate perspective. Thanks to Stu and Victoria at Mallowstreet for putting, and keeping, the show on the road.  I also want to thank Sophie, Ian, Aaron and Mike. We are awesome and yes, its great fun and we love doing it, but that doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work, most of it unseen. We’re not just 5 people who can sing and play a bit, we’re a band, and that’s an important distinction. And finally, thanks to Alan for that round on the train!

And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing,

He’s getting ready for the show

He’s going to the carnival tonight on Desolation Row.


Run-GMP Malowstreet 2014

Neil Copeland

Post by Neil Copeland

Director, pensions consultant and adviser to trustees and employers on all aspects of work based pension schemes.