Pump up the volume - Music venues round up
- David Pollock
- 15 September 2008
Glasgow and Edinburgh play host to some of the hottest hangouts in the UK. David Pollock explores the very best and handpicks the gigs you cannot afford to miss.
244 Gallowgate, 552 4601
One of the best and most famous venues in Britain, the Barrowland has not had as much as a lick of paint since it was a ballroom in the 1960s. Almost every group who has gone on to true fame has trodden the stage and no doubt marvelled at the atmosphere here.
WHO GOES THERE: ‘The best audience in the world’, according to most bands who play there.
DON'T MISS: Ting Tings, Sun 21 Sep; Foals, Sun 5 Oct; MGMT, Sun 9 Nov.
KING TUT’S WAH WAH HUT
272a St Vincent Street, 221 5279
Kind of like the Barrowland on a much smaller scale, this compact bar-with-a-venue upstairs is famed far and wide for its atmosphere, although here you’re close enough to hold a conversation with the singer. Known locally for the fact it holds gigs by artists of wildly differing fame and quality just about every night, and internationally because Oasis were discovered here.
WHO GOES THERE: People who want to see live music right now, and are ready to take a chance.
DON'T MISS: Friendly Fires, Tue 30 Sep; White Lies, Fri 3 Oct; M83, Sun 26 Oct.
Finnieston Quay, 0870 040 4000
Scotland’s biggest indoor arena caters for four and five-figure crowds over various halls (atmosphere variable), and has presented artists like Kylie to the Kaisers and Franz Ferdinand to 50 Cent. The neighbouring Clyde Auditorium -- known locally as ‘the Armadillo’ -- is a massive, seated concert hall.
WHO GOES THERE: Emo kids right up to their grans (but not usually at the same time).
DON'T MISS: Fall Out Boy, Tue 21 Oct; Al Green, Thu 30 Oct; The Mighty Boosh, Fri 28 Oct.
490 Sauchiehall Street, 332 1120
You might come to know it best as somewhere to go for a cheesy midweek club at student-friendly prices, but the centrally-located Garage is also an active gig venue. All sorts of big names pass through, although more often than not, some kind of rock influence is present. Just look for the big yellow truck jutting out above the doorway.
WHO GOES THERE: Rockers, metalheads or emos, depending on age.
DON'T MISS: Gym Class Heroes, Sat 13 Sep; Bring Me the Horizon, Sat 18 Oct; The Cardiacs, Fri 14 Nov.
300 Sauchiehall Street, 332 2232
Like the Garage but different, the recently-opened ABC hosts weekend indie nights for Glasgow’s cooler kids and hosts touring artists of all creeds and sizes in the large upstairs hall and the compact ABC2 downstairs.
WHO GOES THERE: Anyone who wants to marvel at the biggest mirrorball in Scotland.
DON'T MISS: Sam Sparro, Tue 23 Sep; Black Kids, Sun 26 Oct; Shellac, Sun 2 Nov.
121 Eglinton Street, 418 3000
A short walk or tube ride to the south side of the Clyde (don’t worry, the Gorbals aren’t quite as bad as legend suggests) lies Glasgow’s entry in the Academy chain. Again, a wide variety of mid-to-large sized bands are represented, and the occasional club night -- including the burlesque Club Noir and ravey Back to the Future also pitches up.
WHO GOES THERE: Southsiders; those who can still work a tube barrier after multiple pints of Carling.
DON'T MISS: Last Shadow Puppets, Wed 22 Oct; Hot Chip, Sun 2 Nov; Pendulum, Tue 9 Dec.
Top of Byres Road, 357 6200
A recently converted church right in the heart of the West End, Oran Mor is certainly one of Glasgow’s most beautiful venues from the outside. The gigging space is in the basement, though, a dark and atmospheric space which sees jazz outfits, local groups, small to medium touring groups and the occasional gem (Amy Winehouse played here a couple of years back) pass by.
WHO GOES THERE: Students, musos and thesps -- the ‘Play, a Pie and a Pint’ series of lunchtime theatre shows is also held here.
DON'T MISS: Errors, Fri 10 Oct; Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Mon 27 Oct; Low, Mon 17 Nov.
QUEEN MARGARET UNION
22 University Gardens, 339 9784
A spit ‘n’ sawdust student union that all Glasgow Uni students will encounter at some point, the QMU also plays host to a range of gigs by nationally-touring in its incredibly well-suited main space, which mostly occur during term-time. The smaller NME tours also have a habit of showing up in this venue.
WHO GOES THERE: Err, mostly students. But not exclusively.
DON'T MISS: The Blackout, Sun 5 Oct; Mystery Jets, Sat 25 Oct; Sergeant, Sat 22 Nov.
253 Argyle Street, 565 1000
Continually raved about for its railway arch interior and ear-catching programme, this gig venue, club space, café-bar and theatre is possibly Glasgow’s coolest venue. As such, the gigs here lean towards the dazzlingly eclectic.
WHO GOES THERE: The style collective.
DON'T MISS: Ronnie Spector, Mon 29 Sep; Frightened Rabbit, Tue 30 Sep; Roots Manuva, Thu 9 Oct.
NICE ‘N’ SLEAZY
421 Sauchiehall Street, 333 0900
The main competition to that ‘Glasgow’s coolest venue’ crown, despite the fact Sleazy’s is essentially a small pub with a smaller live space downstairs. It’s also the Glasgow indie scene’s Ground Zero, and boasts a jukebox that’s only matched by the one at King Tut’s.
WHO GOES THERE: Every scenester and band you’ve heard of in the city, sooner or later.
DON'T MISS: Ladyhawk, Fri 26 Sep; O’Death, Sun 28 Sep.
11 Newmarket Road, 477 3500
It’s a 20-minute bus ride from the city centre, but the Corn Exchange is the only gig venue Edinburgh (currently) has to measure up to the scale of the Barrowlands, the ABC or the Academy in Glasgow. It draws the big bands, though -- Kate Nash, Maximo Park and Pendulum have all just played August’s The Edge city festival there.
WHO GOES THERE: Those who don’t mind bus queues after the show.
DON'T MISS: Mogwai, Tue 21 Oct; Bullet For My Valentine, Sun 9 Nov; The Complete Stone Roses, Sat 15 Nov.
9c Victoria Street, 225 2564
Considering the distance to the Corn Exchange and the fact the Old Picture House isn’t open yet, the Liquid Room is, by default, Edinburgh’s biggest regularly-used pop and rock venue. Great atmosphere and proximity to the band, but it isn’t large.
WHO GOES THERE: Students, both to gigs and to the many late-night clubs.
DON'T MISS: Roots Manuva, Wed 8 Nov; CSS, Sun 12 Nov; Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, Mon 17 Nov.
36-38 Blair Street, 220 6176
A modest little space buried under the Old Town, manager Sarah David and her team have nevertheless turned this into Edinburgh’s most exciting venue. Its secret is a combination of good programming and good service.
WHO GOES THERE: People who know that to rely on Cab for gigs and clubs most nights of the week.
DON'T MISS: Dananananaykroyd, Sat 13 Sep; Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls), Tue 30 Sep; Lykke Li, Thu 9 Oct.
Moray House, 37 Holyrood Road, 558 7604
The capital’s home of free-form eclectica. Club nights encompass funk, soul, reggae and techno, and a policy of mostly-local bands and bigger club gigs mirrors that ethos. Rough and ready, but it’s a friendly melting pot for many of the city’s creative types.
WHO GOES THERE: Edinburgh’s most diverse crowd.
DON'T MISS: Check www.thebongoclub.co.uk for up to date listings.
212 Cowgate, 556 3256
Hidden away at the back of a pub set into the vaults of the Old Town, Bannerman’s offers nightly slots for local bands, and occasional places for up-and-comers (KT Tunstall earlier in her career, and Laura Marling more recently).
WHO GOES THERE: Local groups and their mates.
DON'T MISS: Check www.myspace.com/bannermanslive for up to date listings.
19a West Register Street, 556 7060
Resurrected from a former life as the plain old Café Royal, the people behind the club VEGAS! and the bars Villager and Dragonfly have turned the place into a shiny new restaurant, bar and venue. Live gigs focus on local acts, hip hop groups and underground 80s legends.
WHO GOES THERE: A well-heeled contingent.
DON'T MISS: Catfish Keith, Wed 15 Oct; Brand New Heavies, Mon 20 Oct; Limbo, for new local bands every Thu.
HENRY’S CELLAR BAR
8-16a Morrison Street, 228 9393
All manner of eclecticism lurks here, in what used to be a jazz venue, but now covers all leftfield bases. You may not have heard of the bands, but the programming is generally first class and the venue has lots of character.
WHO GOES THERE: avant-garde types, and students looking for a late night pint.
DON'T MISS: Check www.myspace.com/henrysvenue for up to date listings.
18-22 Greenside Place, 0870 606 3424
This grand old concert hall enjoys one of the prettiest interiors in the city, although it’s largely used for touring musical theatre shows. When musicians make it here, though, they’re enormous -- this year has already seen Neil Young, Lou Reed and Tom Waits stop by.
WHO GOES THERE: To gigs: all-age fans of classic rock artists.
DON'T MISS: The Moody Blues, Mon 22 Sep; The Bootleg Beatles, Sun 14 Dec.
24-26 Calton Road, 558 3758
It’s a bit rough round the edges, but this well-hidden venue was an Edinburgh legend as Calton Studios. Seminal clubs Pure, Sativa and goth night The Mission were based here, and the family-run building still cuts its own furrow in specialist gigs.
WHO GOES THERE: Emo kids and old techno heads.
DON'T MISS: Check www.myspace.com/studio24edinburgh for up to date listings.
THE OLD PICTURE HOUSE
31 Lothian Road
In recent memory a garish club named Century 2000, then Revolution once the millennium arrived, and recently an experimental venue named Gig, this large hall has apparently just enjoyed the face-lift it deserves. There have been false dawns before - but if the developers have it right, this will be one of Edinburgh’s best venues.
WHO GOES THERE: Anyone who wants to see what they’ve done with the old place.
DON'T MISS: Dirty Pretty Things, Sun 5 Oct; Todd Rundgren, Fri 7 Nov.