Around the country in eighteen venues – No.1, Barrowland

No.1: Barrowland, Glasgow

Capacity: 1900

Year: Built in 1930, but destroyed by fire in 1958. Re-built and re-opened on Christmas Eve, 1960.

They sayVic Galloway (BBC broadcaster, TV presenter, journalist and musician): “I’ve been going to gigs at the Glasgow Barrowland for around 25 years now…gulp! Yes indeed, I have witnessed hundreds if not thousands of bands play on its hallowed stage since the mid-1980s and loved the experience every single time – maybe not every band’s set, but every experience. I would go so far as to say the Barras is the best venue in the world. It’s some claim I know, but I’ve travelled far and wide and never been to a venue more suited to the visceral experience of a live rock n’ roll gig to this day. I tell people this across the world too.”

“To start with, the size is perfect. It’s like a club show on a large scale, or an arena show on a small scale. Secondly, you can see the band wherever you stand. Thirdly, the PA system is always excellent. Fourthly, you can get served at the bar relatively quickly. Then there’s the sprung dance-floor which literally bounces up and down with the throng…you get the idea! Most of all, it must be the ridiculously, over-enthusiastic Glasgow crowd.  They are nutters (and I have been one of them many times) and are always up for it, especially on Friday or Saturday nights when the bevy is flowing. Constantly and continually, bands rant about how the Barras crowd is the best anywhere in the world. I couldn’t, wouldn’t and won’t disagree.”

The Charlatans live at the Barrowland, 14/5/10. Photo: Michael Gallacher

“I remember the first time I saw its slightly decrepit, flashing neon sign in the distance as I walked towards it, bubbling in anticipation for the gig I was about to attend. I still get a wee buzz when I see it today. Then it’s stepping through the doors, climbing the stairs and smelling the ‘roll and sausage’ being fried on the middle-floor next to the merchandise stall. I would ogle that merch and wish I could afford everything there, but knew I might just be able to get a t-shirt if I was lucky. Then it was the final staircase to the gig, open those swing doors and marvel at the ballroom – I can almost taste it while writing this. The faded majesty, the sticky floor, the ceiling stars and the gathered tribes in their rags and feathers, all checking each other out pre-gig with pints of lager and cider in hand. Then…the performance…and the pit, the feeling of union with band and 2000-strong audience as your favourite songs of all time (certainly for that night anyway) are played from their hearts straight to your heart…absolute magic!”

“I have too many performance highlights to mention them all, but a few include The Damned (twice – punk rock craziness from band and crowd!), Stiff Little Fingers (matinee show… My mate and I were 15!), Fugazi (four bands for a £5), Morrissey (total fan-worship as people queued to hug him!), The Beta Band (a truly psychedelic night with mods, indie kids, b-boys and hippies all dancing together), Belle & Sebastian (Glasgow’s indie scene all united in one venue), Mogwai (the LOUDEST gig ever!), Biffy Clyro (blowing the roof off many times!) and most recently, Nick Cave’s Grinderman and Selkirk’s finest Frightened Rabbit both playing blinders. The list goes on, and so do the memories.”

“OK, OK…That’s it. It IS the best venue in the world…no contest, no argument, no messing!”

Watch it for yourself: Arcade Fire in 2007, complete with ear-shattering sing-alongs and crowd surfing…

No.1: Barrowland, Glasgow

One Response to Around the country in eighteen venues – No.1, Barrowland

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Claire Thomson, Lucy B. Lucy B said: (via @the_daily_dose ) The Barrowland: Best venue in the world? […]

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