The Arches: 21 defining moments
The cutting edge venue turns 21 this year - here are some of the stand-out moments in its history
This article is from 2012.
1. Cafe Loco
First set up as an experiment by Arches founder Andy Arnold to bring theatre to clubbers, Cafe Loco showcased numerous emerging and experimental performers including early sightings of performance company Mischief La Bas.
2. Conquest of the South Pole
3. Alien War
4. Leigh Bowery at Love Boutique
Infamous performance artist Leigh Bowery thrills (and no doubt shocks a few) clubbers with his ‘live birth’ performance at this anything-goes club night.
The festival comes to the Arches, where it would stay until 2010, showcasing international work by the likes of American performance artist Ron Athey and Alastair MacLennan’s monumental burnt-out car piece ‘MAEL’ (1996).
‘I have so many fond memories of working in the Arches. If I had to pick just one it would be by Alastair MacLennan. In 1996, his work 'MAEL 69/96' occupied a whole arch for three days. Simple lines of lightbulbs with the level pulsing from near-darkness to a sort of half-light, illuminated lines of burnt-out cars while the soundtrack listed the names of every person killed during the conflict in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1996. There’s always some sound leakage between the arches so for days I was aware of the haunting list of names and, like most festival visitors, I dropped into the installation regularly. On one occasion, Alastair appeared out of the darkness and placed a small child’s shoe in front of one of the cars before slipping back into the shadows. It was one of those magical moments – a simple gesture with such a big emotional impact – the kind of thing that only live art can give you.’
Nikki Milican Artistic director, National Review of Live Art 1979-2010
The era defining, chillout trip-hop duo perform at the venue.
The Liverpool house night takes over the 2000-capacity Arches, with 5000 clubbers queueing up Midland Street all the way to the Clyde, hoping to sample a taste of the global club brand.
First home headline gig by the post rock local heroes.
‘My favourite memory of playing the Arches was when we played after Mogwai Young Team in 1997. It was our first proper headline show in Glasgow where we were playing to lots of people we didn’t know. It was a really magical night.’
Stuart Braithwaite Mogwai
9. The End Part II
The first performance of the new millennium, The End Part II took place as the bells chimed midnight in the middle of a packed Hogmanay club.
10. Death Disco begins
The renowned underground electro club opens its doors for the first time.
‘I remember, while I was a student, working with a performance collective called BarArt. We made performance interventions for night club settings and Death Disco was our favourite place to perform, as the crowd was always so appreciative of anything out of the ordinary. The most memorable night was one where we wore discoballs over our heads and created an installation of light shining and moving in all directions in the dance arch. People really wanted to touch the heads, as if they weren’t real somehow, and I remember being in the midst of the performance when one guy licked my armpit.’
Nic Green Theatre-maker
11. Inaugural Arches Live
The annual festival of new theatre first comes into being. Now in its tenth year, the event has given a foot in the door to the performance world to the likes of Kieran Hurley, Rob Drummond, Nic Green and Gary McNair.
12. Galaxy 2 Galaxy play Pressure
‘The first time we had Galaxy 2 Galaxy playing live was a very special occasion. We had been fans of Underground Resistance since the beginning and had asked them many times to bring a live show to Pressure. Mike Banks – the main guy – covered his face with a bandana and set his keyboards up as far to the back of the stage as possible. The wizard behind the scenes. That night Glasgow and Detroit showed their connection.’
13. Dante's Inferno
Andy Arnold’s adaptation of Dante’s epic poem takes over the venue. Audience members are led through the venue’s subterranean rooms while a cast of 80 recreate the underworld.
14. Spend a Penny
‘Spend a Penny stands out for me... a selection of writings performed by solo actors in toilet cubicles, so it was a one actor, one audience experience. Andy [Arnold – former artistic director] somehow managed to turn the stinky Arches toilets into an underground haven of intimacies, where you were confessed to by various characters. It was an absolutely brilliant piece of theatre.’
Cora Bissett Actor and theatre-maker
‘I remember playing the Arches back at the Fatcat Records Christmas night in 2007. I think we’d just come back from a European tour supporting Beirut and we headed straight to the Arches for the gig. It was a pretty mental night as there were lots of people from the label and because we’d both been touring pretty relentlessly we hadn’t hung out with the Rabbits for a while so we all went for it. There was a stage invasion during the FR’s set and some poor bastard even fell and broke his arm I think. All in all it was a pretty great night.’
James Graham The Twilight Sad
Nic Green’s triptych about contemporary feminism had its roots in the Arches’ Behaviour festival in 2009 before going on to win awards and universal critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond.
‘We’ve played in the Arches twice as headliners and both times were two of my favourite shows we’ve ever done. It’s pretty much the cultural centre of Glasgow, not just for the music and club scene but for the theatre community as well.’
James Hamilton Errors
The Italian horror-prog-synth soundtrack overlords deliver a memorable performance for their first ever Scottish show.
19. Ann Liv Young
The provocative performance artist spits raw fish at the audience in Mermaid Show, her re-interpretation of The Little Mermaid fairytale.
Kieran Hurley teams up with resident DJ Johnny Whoop for his monologue piece on rave culture. The show went on to storm the Edinburgh Fringe.
‘It’s really difficult to pick a favourite, most important memory connected to the Arches, so I’m going to cheat and pick two. Josh Wink playing ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ as the lights come up for chucking out time at the end of Pressure, and Tim Crouch performing ‘An Oak Tree’ as part of Behaviour, which was game-changing for me.’
Kieran Hurley Theatre-maker
21. Pressure's 20th birthday
‘It’s hard to find the right words to define accurately what we can feel while we’re playing at Pressure in Glasgow. After 25 years of DJing, I can easily say that Pressure is FUCKING UNIQUE (excuse my French)!’
Laurent Garnier DJ
... And some of your defining Arches moments
Seeing Spiritualized on acid.
Gettin caught wi eckies in thi toilet by ah bouncer at Slam bit still gettin let back in ti see Daft Punk.
Defining Arches moment: Mary Kiani MWI in a fur coat and cowboy hat sweating her tits off.
Merzbow at Instal ‘03.
Walking in at 16, no ID while my 18 year old mate got frisked. And my first ever beer in a plastic bottle.
Spilling a bit of my pint on Justin Currie after winning the bingo at ‘Bonkers’.
Rocket from the Crypt frontman Speedo gurgling petrol then breathing fire while playing.
Having a mad wan with Skream at our afterparty.
Seeing Jimmy Corkhill on the big screen while Slam were playing. Also Lawnmower Man on the screen!!
Few years ago 2manydjs opening with their dominator ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’.
My first ever Pressure – Jeff Mills & Slam 26th March 2010. Been techno daft ever since then.
Doing Klingon v Alien publicity thing and being warned ‘Whatever you do, do not punch the Aliens.’
Erol Alkan playing MGMT 'Kids (Soulwax Remix)’ then 2000 ravers singing the tune walking along Jamaica Street.