The Rock the Ben! concert on the summit of Ben Lomond was Scotland's biggest open air rock gig of the year, and yet another peak in the rise to superstardom of Manchester's own moptops, Fertile Bit in the Middle of a Desert. What other band could attract eighty thousand screaming teenagers to a windy 3000ft summit for four hours of jangly guitars and throaty vocals?
Of course, Fertile Bit in the Middle of a Desert are almost as famous for their controversial habits as they are for their music. Many people, especially parents, are worried about their influence on young fans. However, lead singer Joel Nallagher says, "It's true, like, yeah, we do hillwalking and mountain sports ourselves, but we don't go around telling other people to do the same, right?"
Nevertheless, there seem to be obvious temptations for young people in the band's lyrics: the song Wonderwall is a clear reference to extreme rock climbing, while another song mocks non-hillgoers with the words "Where were you while we were getting high?" Mrs Georgina Thoroughgood, chairman of the Society for Sounding Very Concerned in the Press and on TV, said, "We are sure that innocent, vulnerable young children will listen to this group and be drawn into a twilight world of bothies and corries and glens and youth hostels. We will end up with a generation that requires the buzz of fresh air and exercise, instead of staying at home and buying expensive CDs and doing drugs. That can't be good for society."
Certainly, there must be something special about Fertile Bit in the Middle of a Desert that can encourage eighty thousand young people to pull on climbing boots and trek to the top of the Ben. Yet recently it looked as if the fans would have to find new heroes. There were reports of a split when the band cut short their tour of peaks in the American Rockies. Joel and his brother Ian were reported to have had a major argument, with a split in the band the likely outcome. But the disagreement was soon patched up. As rock critic David Farter said, "Just a typical tiresome brothers' quarrel. Falling out over who's wearing whose yeti gaiters, stuff like that."