For those who enjoyed reminiscing about the Barrowland Ballroom in Parts One & Two, this is a more personal look at Alec’s favourite Barrowland gigs. It was going to be a top ten before he got lost in memories of laughs, tears, hugs and flying cups of pish and it became a magical top 50. Enjoy.

I was going to limit myself to ten but a quick flash through the history section of www.glasgow-barrowland.com reminded me of too many sweaty T-shirts, flying plastic cups of pish, hearty laughs, lingering hugs and the odd flood of tears and how many great bands have trod that wooden stage, so I’ll elaborate on 5 and sprint through a few others.

More a reflection of special moments I had than musical excellence, but if the gigs below can inspire a happy recollection or two in the reader, then they have done their job. So a tentative lip bite and I’m off.
..
1. Bowie – Tuesday 22 July 1997

I was living in London and went to Manchester for some odd reason to see Bowie do his Sound & Vision Tour and he went through the motions looking like a sad fed up pantomime dame and the then-fresh-out-the-box James, blew him off stage so our love affair took a short sabbatical. Tin Machine rekindled a flame and when Bowie played the Barrowland there was no way I was missing it. The old dame was immense and I camped in the front row for the whole of the show transfixed by a new happy, chatty and flirty Bowie, whose own regained enthusiasm electrified an older man and Ballroom.
..
2. Stereophonics – Friday 16 April 1999

I can’t say I am the hugest Stereophonics fan but I was going through a tough time in life, change of job, moving house, a few other personal problems and my Mother had recently passed away with cancer. I arrived at the show late and pissed out my head and the only thing I can really remember is getting a bollocking from my wife and sobbing my heart out during, “A Thousand Trees”, as life and music caught me up. So if there was a random punter bawling at that gig next to you, sorry.
..
3. Iggy Pop – Saturday 21 August 1993

I have seen Iggy so many times it is hard to say where and when he was best, but this performance was around the time of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and it was like Iggy went out to prove he could make as big a noise and keep the adrenaline running longer than Vedder or Cobain. The show was a blistering and brutalising thrash that left ears bleeding, craniums cracked and blood rushing faster than a Peter Lorimer belter.

4. Def Leppard – Monday 24 February 2003

I hate stadium rock and I used to hate everything bands like Def Leppard project: tight jeans, bad hair, clichéd lyrics. Too much penis and not enough cock to rock! Then Ted McKenna of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, who I was working with invited me to the show and to meet his ole mate Joe. So off I went filled with dread. How wrong I was. Take that big stadium sound, crush it into a venue with the best acoustics in the UK, add a 1,950 capacity partisan audience that are rotund in the extreme, get pished, get involved, listen to those thumping drums trying to rip the ceiling from the walls and a bass that vibrates from boots to groin and what you have is a wonderful cock rock experience.

5. Del Amitri – Friday 27 December 1996

I used to live in Germany and I used to go along to a wee venue called PC 69, which was a sort of mini Barrowland. At that point I did not know much about Del Amitri but I made a Celtic brethren point of going to see Scottish bands. When we arrived at the gig the Dels were having a kick about so we joined in, watched a top show including a Dels version of Ace of Spades and went back stage for a pint afterwards. I was sold. Years later I was at their Christmas show at the Barrowland when Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze busked as the support. Then Justin Curry and the boys ran through a plethora of tunes like Spit in the Rain, Move Away Jimmy Blue, Always the Last to Know and Driving with the Brakes, which reminded you what a fine songwriter Currie is. And the guitar solo on Crashing Down proves Iain Harvie is as much a Scottish guitar god as Brian (Robbo) Robertson xx.

6. Biffy Clyro – Three Ayrshire boys proving you don’t need NME to get 1,950 punters singing every word at the best venue in the world.

7. Alice Cooper – I first saw Alice at the Apollo and nothing much has changed, the band are great, the songs are total schlock rock and whereas I used to watch Alice in the 70s to escape the Clockwork Orange generation, now it is to escape the real world for a glorious wee bit.

8. Proclaimers – Get pished, sing more gallus songs than your throat allows, bounce about, hug the world and leave knowing exactly why it is pure dead brilliant to be Scottish.

9. The Datsuns – A bottle of JD on a Marshal stack, Cuban heals, warp factor playing, top tunes and the ability to move and put your foot on the monitor without looking like a total cock. This band from New Scotland is the best Rock n Roll band since The Faces.

10. Glasvegas/Joe Strummer – they did not actually play on the same night but how much does the lead singer look like Strummer reincarnated, and how awesome were their two shows. Leaves you wondering if James’s mum was a Clash fan ;o).

11. Raising Kain – this Glasgow band supported The Libertines and should have been huge, doh.

12. NIN – not the first band to discover that playing a shed is soulless before returning to where they can find their soul waiting for them on the sticky stairs.

13. The King – He was supporting Fun Lovin’ Criminals and doing covers of dead rock stars and there was some dude in the audience that would not leave me alone because he thought I was The King. Must have been my burger years.

14. Faithless – who were the church of groove.

15. Big Country – should have been top 10 but too late so get the DVD of their Barrowland show (see video below).


16. Texas – I was heading off to Texas for a few months and a friend bought me a “I Hate Texas” t-shirt and I wore it to T in the Park. Other than my Sluts of Trust t-shirt, I never had so many comments directed at me. I digress, this is the gig where I drunkenly asked Rita Rusk if she was Sharleen’s mum, oops.

17. Echo & the Bunnymen – the ad-libs during Do It Clean still make the show for me.

18. Annie Christian – wee Edinburgh band that supported Echo & the Bunnymen, who deserved to do more in life.

19. James – it is not until you stand at a James gig that you understand how many hits this band had.

20. Placebo – when the venue is filled with 2000 skinny Goth kids with Placebo carved into their arms, it looks scarily half empty but what a suave band.

21. Elvis Costello – I was at the gig with Joe Walsh who was checking out the venue and left early, when Billy Sloan chased us down the back stairs looking for a picture with Joe. Safe to say that Billy nearly lost his teeth as Joe’s minder is a 6’6” ex-CIA dude.

22. Ryan Adams – got drunk fell off the stage.

23. Black Crowes – another great Rock n Roll band.

24. Polyphonic Spree – was not going to the show until they emailed me asking for good veggie restaurants in Glasgow, so glad they did.

25. Steve Earle – not enough country stars play the Barrowland and not many rock out as good as Mr Earle.
..
26. New Order – the famous “was that a punch?” as they left the stage incident.

27. Electric Six – 1,950 people wanna go to a gay bar with Electric Six.

28. Dandy Warhols – how many ramshackle bohemian musos from Portland Oregon can you fit on one stage.

29. Quireboys – yet another great Rock n Roll band.

And the rest….

30. The Jesus and Mary Chain
31. Faith No More
32. Fun Loving Criminals
33. Nick Cave
34. Grim Northern Social
35. Mansun
36. Marilyn Manson
37. Blondie
38. Bush
39. Skunk Anansie
40. The The
41. The View
42. The Vines
43. PJ Harvey
44. Death in Vegas
45. The Verve
46. Paul Weller
47. Alice in Chains
48. B52s
49. Gomez
50. Idlewild

Alec

www.glasgow-barrowland.com

Comments

  1. Brilliant stuff . I was at the glasvegas show last year. Fucking Best gig ever. What was the new order punch story?

  2. They were having a row as they left the stage and looked like Hooky hooked Bernard and they never came out for their usual encore

  3. No SLF , Shame! had many a sweaty night in the Barras for SLF ,

    Great clip of Big Country in there , i remember the gig well and the clip well , Big Country go of stage half way through Lost Patrol with the crowd singing the chorus then return 5 min later and the crowd still have the song going then Big Country get back involved ,Just one of many great gigs bt Big Country at the Barras .

  4. Just read Part 1 where you wrote about “that magical rush when turning that wee bend in the street that allows you to see the neon Barrowland sign sparkling its welcome”.

    I remember this vividly as a teenager walking from Central to the Barrowlands for the first time to see Supergrass. I got lost in the Gallowgate somewhere and thought I was going to get murdered.

    Then when I finally saw the Barrowland sign I had that same magical rush and even though I’d never been there before I felt like I’d found my way home.

    Thanks for sharing your memories.

  5. aah loving it especially rita rusk sharleen story-can’t see it myself you most def on the sauce -bunnymen reminds me of us in new york,damo getting mcculloch for jay ah ha thats another story , agree sterephonics something about the voice handbags and gladrags x

  6. Good article but you’re wrong about Bill Haley’s “only Scottish gig.” He played the Odeon in Glasgow in 1957 as part of his first UK tour. I’ve got pictures of his fans in Renfield St and backstage snaps of Bill and his long-serving sax player Rudi at the Barrowland gig.

  7. Thanks Eddy. I’ve now edited the article. Are those photos of Bill Haley available online anywhere? Sounds like it would make a good article.