Manic Street Preachers, Paolo Nutini, Enter Shikari and Brett Anderson mark King Tut's 20th birthday
King of clubs
This month marks the 20th birthday of one of Glasgow’s most legendary music venues. David Pollock looks back at two decades of gigs definitely not to be tutted at
If there’s one thing that every music fan around the nation knows about Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, it’s that Creation Records’ boss Alan McGee (a Glaswegian himself) first saw Oasis play live there in 1993 and decided to sign them before their set had even finished. And so Tut’s, twenty years old this month, claimed a pretty sizeable footnote in British rock history all to itself.
‘It’s not a bad landmark to be recognised for,’ says DF Concerts’ Dave McGeachan, ‘18 Wheeler – a Creation band – were headlining that night, and Oasis drove up from Manchester and asked to be on the bill. It’s not the last time Alan McGee helped out a band he saw at Tut’s. Three years ago he brought Carl Barat (The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things) up from London to see Glasvegas play their last Tut’s headline show. Carl was blown away, and helped them out a lot with their career.’
Of all those involved in King Tut’s over the years, McGeachan has perhaps built up the closest association. As a young promoter in his native Gourock in the early 90s he would regularly travel to Tut’s, later becoming the place’s manager and promoter, before graduating onto Tut’s owner DF’s wider operation around the country. Yet still, he books most of the venue’s shows.
‘Tut’s used to be called Saints & Sinners,’ says McGeachan, ‘until it was taken over and renamed by DF founder Stuart Clumpas, who had spotted a gap in the market for a 300-capacity venue in Glasgow. I didn’t realise at the time, but some of my very first gigs at Tut’s were also some of its first ever. I saw bands like Slowdive, Pale Saints and The Charlatans in the first few weeks it was open, then the Manic Street Preachers in March ‘91, and Blur about the same time. Radiohead, too.’
Although McGeachan speaks proudly of then-unknown bands like Coldplay and Kasabian doing support dates during his tenure, he also points out the number of established, big-name bands who have played intimate sets over the last few years, including Primal Scream, Razorlight, Bloc Party, Texas and The Stone Roses’ John Squire. Among the year-long celebrations for this anniversary year will be many more intimate sets, from acts far more used to packing stadiums than broom cupboards, including gigs by Manic Street Preachers and Paolo Nutini this fortnight.
‘I remember somebody once telling me they thought Tut’s had everything a live venue needs,’ says McGeachan. ‘You can get a bite to eat downstairs beforehand, the gig space upstairs is really intimate, but there aren’t massive queues at the bar off to the side. Then, you don’t get kicked out at the end, the bar downstairs is open late and there’s even a pool table there. I like to think the place’s reputation isn’t just based on fans enjoying what we do and telling all their friends, but on bands telling other bands how much they love it too.’
Manic Street Preachers, Paolo Nutini, Enter Shikari, Brett Anderson and more play intimate gigs at King Tut’s, Glasgow, this fortnight. See listings for full details.