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Favourite Venues – Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow

Siobhanne Beattie


“Oh, nothing beats the feeling of the high Barrowland ceiling, when the band start to play” – “Barrowland Ballroom” Amy MacDonald.

Glasgow-born, Amy, certainly wasn’t wrong in her tribute to one of Glasgow’s most famous venues.

Originally opened in 1934, Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom has gone from hotspot nightspot in it’s days as a dance hall to a rowdy gig venue which has played host to some of the biggest and best bands in the world.  The original Barrowland Ballroom was largely destroyed by fire in 1958, before it’s rebuild and re-opening on Christmas Eve, 1960.  The Ballroom is steeped in history for it’s part in the mysterious, “Bible John” murders of the 1960s – many believe the notorious serial killer met his victims at dances held there.

The decline of dance halls and the rise of pop/rock gigs saw the Ballroom transform from a popular dance-hall to a must-attend live music venue.  Although, modest in it’s capacity (1,900 approx), The Barrowland became popular with punters for it’s excellent acoustics, and sprung dance floor.

Fans and bands alike have openly praised their love of this fantastic venue. Rock heavy-weights, Metallica, described their 1996 performance at the venue as “the best gig we’ve ever played”.

As already mentioned, Scottish singer/songwriter, Amy MacDonald penned, “Barrowland Ballroom” in honour of the venue, and featured on her debut offering, “This Is The Life”.  MacDonald has played at the venue several times over the past few years.

The Barrowland has attracted many big names over the years – Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Paolo Nutini, Billy Idol, INXS, New Order, and U2, to name but a few.  Ocean Colour Scene played 5 consecutive sold out nights and currently hold the record.

2003 saw the opening of a rival, “intimate”, venue in the form of The Carling Academy (now known as The 02 Academy, Glasgow) it saw a decline in the popularity of the former Ballroom, and the Barrowlands faced closure.  However, outrage from fans and some of music’s biggest names, who spoke out in protest (Noel Gallagher, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, and Sharleen Spitiri of Texas) quashed threats of closure and saved The Barrowland for the next generation of musicians and fans.

Now, in 2011, it seems the venue is as popular as ever with some very exciting upcoming gigs in the pipeline – Babyshamble’s frontman, Peter Doherty, is bringing his solo efforts to Glasgow’s Barrowlands in May of this year, former Oasis frontman, Liam Gallagher, presented his new band Beady Eye at 2 sold-out gigs last month, and wild rockers, The View, are playing 2 sold out shows at the venue this week.

As much apart of Glasgow as the witty banter, The Barrowland Ballroom is a beacon to gig-goers everywhere, and a venue that simply must be experienced.