Glasgow Letter – October 7, 2021

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In 2011, when I first moved to Glasgow, I spent many a weekend walking past the Kelvingrove Bandstand.

This had a lot to do with its situation on the Kelvin Way. It sits pretty much half way between Glasgow University -where I was studying – and the three hostelries I mention often in this column – namely the Park Bar, the Islay Inn, and the Snaffle Bit.

Finnieston was in transition towards the myriad of bars and restaurants we see today, so the path between a late night at the university library and last orders on Argyle Street was a well trodden one for many students.

When I was at uni, the bandstand had been derelict since 1999. I always felt, however, despite the disrepair and vandalism, that it was easy to imagine how stunning it must have looked when it was built back in 1924. Countless times, I would peer over the fence down into the amphitheatre and wish that someone would invest and return it to its former glory.

Step forward Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, Glasgow City Council, and Glasgow Life who negotiated a redevelopment plan and reopened the bandstand in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Since then, this incredible venue with a capacity of more than 2,000 has seen some of the biggest artists in the world perform on its stage: Sir Tom Jones, Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys, and Van Morrison to name just a few. On Friday evening, I’ll have the pleasure of performing there with Tide Lines – supported by two fellow Highlanders in the wonderful Tamzene and the brilliant Keir Gibson.

I can hear you ask how on earth an outdoor, uncovered gig will work in Scotland in October. It’s a valid point. This concert was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 and initially postponed until the summer of 2021. Ongoing restrictions meant it was ultimately pushed back until October, so it will be a huge relief to get onstage and finally play the show. The temperature potentially being slightly cooler will be balanced by the positive that (unlike a summer show) this will be dark from the beginning which should benefit the lighting show and general atmosphere. And who’s to say this weekend won’t be the beginning of an Indian summer? This is Scotland, after all, and you can’t predict the weather at any time of year!

One thing you can predict, though, is that Friday will be a big night in Glasgow come rain or come shine. Not only on account of our gig but also because, a couple of miles further East, Peat and Diesel are playing in the Barrowlands. Between their audience and ours, that’s more than 4,000 fans of Highland music descending on Glasgow. What can possibly go wrong?

Well, on the subject of weather, as Ricky Fulton said in an old Scotch and Wry episode: When the gaels from the North meet the showers from the West, there’s going to be one helluva party!