15 of the most iconic gigs in Glasgow music history
Thom Yorke Radiohead Amsterdam

Glasgow has had its fair share of concerts, but how many have you been lucky enough to attend?

Glasgow has staged countless legendary gigs since the late ’60s, making it one of the hotspots for a concert in the UK.

The city has plenty of outstanding venues that has had bands coming back time and time again, from the Barrowlands to King Tut’s, and Nice N’ Sleazy to the old Apollo Theatre.

Here are 15 of the finest.

David Bowie at Barrowland Ballroom

Every artist should play the Barrowlands. The low ceiling gives it crisp sound and the venue always has incredible energy. David Bowie enjoyed it so much that he nicked a star that fell from above.

This was only in 1997 when David Bowie had already completed a handful of arena and stadium tours. It was a rare moment to see him in such an intimate and fabled environment.

AC/DC at Apollo Theatre

AC/DC had a bit of Glasgow in their blood – heck, they were basically Scottish given the crowd’s uproarious reaction to them at the Apollo – and they were obsessed with blood. The band released live album If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, which was recorded at the venue in 1978.

The band continued to play at the venue past then, even after Bon Scott tragically passed away, but their most famed shows will be post-live album – when the band were touring Highway to Hell in 1979. A two-night stand at the Apollo continued to emphasise their live intensity.

Fleetwood Mac at Apollo Theatre

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Rumours had just been released and Fleetwood Mac were ready to take over the world.

With hits such as ‘Dreams’, ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘The Chain’, they had a sublime live presence in their armoury, which would entice enough people to go along to their gig at the Apollo not once, but twice during April 1977.

Black Sabbath (and Van Halen) at Apollo Theatre

Yet another Apollo Theatre appearance and one that could have been disastrous if it wasn’t for a young American outfit impressing on their Glasgow debut.

Black Sabbath were lucky to run this tour after the band almost fired Ozzy Osbourne, but one last tour would commence to support their commercially unsuccessful effort Never Say Die!.

Van Halen, on the other hand, had just released their eponymous debut album, which is still considered a classic. Impressed with the band’s unique classic rock sound, many of the crowd promptly bought the album the following day.

Metallica at Barrowland Ballroom

Metallica

Frequently regarded as one of the best metal live acts, Metallica had peaked in popularity with The Black Album. You wouldn’t expect the thrash metal outfit to play such a small venue after a hike in demand.

The band described their performance at the Barrowlands as “the best show we’ve ever played”, but have never played it again.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Green’s Playhouse

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At the end of 1967, guitar hero Jimi Hendrix dropped the jaws of millions of Beatles fans not only for his stupendous guitar playing, but also for his bluesy cover of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, which he played on this night.

With support from The Move and Pink Floyd, the gig was reportedly a shambles. The venue’s curtains kept closing on Hendrix because staff thought he was doing rude actions with his guitar, which almost concluded with staff members trying to pull him off stage. Beside his Beatles cover, he performed a selection of songs from his debut album, including ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Foxy Lady’ and ‘Purple Haze’.

The White Stripes at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

Just before the release of their seminal White Blood Cells album, The White Stripes rocked Glasgow good and proper for the first of many times. The duo played five covers on this night, playing the same number from their eponymous debut album, a few from their second album and four from their newest album.

The demand would be so much that the band would come back to Glasgow a few months later, even though some people were jealous that they didn’t get to see the two-piece at King Tut’s.

Radiohead at Barrowland Ballroom

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It’s hard to imagine what Radiohead at the Barrowlands would be like nowadays – a dream come true, perhaps? Just imagine what it would be like in 1995 around the release of The Bends.

Radiohead had played Glasgow a dozen of times prior to this gig, hitting up King Tut’s at any given opportunity before making Barrowlands their new Glaswegian residency.

The band played all songs from The Bends bar one – ‘Sulk’ – that night, including five from the album they now hate most (Pablo Honey) and two from OK Computer.

Rage Against the Machine at Barrowland Ballroom

Rage Against the Machine - Barrowlands

When bands play the Barrowlands once, they’re normally itching to get back to the venue on the next tour. That was exactly what Rage Against the Machine did. The band played the venue in 1993 and 1996, touring their self-titled and Evil Empire. Both performances were incendiary, with a crowd going nuts both times.

The first show was so violent that a bouncer was beating up a concert-goer before the famous drop in ‘Killing in the Name’, until frontman Zach de la Rocha decided to break it up by stamping on the bouncer’s head.

Daft Punk at Barrowland Ballroom

Daft Punk at Barrowlands

When Homework was released in 1997, it was a big deal for French house music. Daft Punk revived trance and veered away from the Euro dance method that had tired out electronic music.

Seeing Daft Punk live nowadays, never mind at the Barrowlands, would be a dream come true. The band haven’t played live in nearly 10 years, but the legacy of this show still lives on.

Neil Young at Apollo Theatre

He was a mystical performer, but Neil Young would still grab huge crowds and sell millions of albums. His best performance at the Apollo was in 1976, but he was lucky to have an audience at that show after performing the entire unreleased Tonight’s the Night album in 1973 to a hostile crowd.

After a solo set at the start of the latter show, Young brought out his famous backing band Crazy Horse for some hard rock numbers, along with another two encores. And he even performed incognito on the streets before the gig.

Green Day at Barrowland Ballroom

Green Day

The pop-punk outfit were known for their riotous shows, and Barrowlands was no exception. It was violent, deafening and sweaty, and Green Day played their best ever shows.

Opening with ‘Welcome to Paradise’, Green Day rattled through their sub-three minute tracks like quick-fire. At the end of the concert, the band smashed up their equipment and most of the right hand side of the stage, before Billie Joe Armstrong ripped into a rendition of ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’.

Their two-night stand in January 1998 wasn’t enough, as they returned in August of the same night to cause similar chaos.

Muse & Coldplay at The Garage

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Both bands are stadium rock heavyweights nowadays, although back in 2000, Coldplay and Muse were more or less a footnote in the indie rock market. Muse were gathering traction as a Radiohead rip-off after their album Showbiz, and Coldplay were a month away from releasing their debut album.

Muse played numerous songs from their debut album that night, including ‘New Born’ and ‘Feeling Good’, and Coldplay played the majority of their debut album along with a few B-sides.

Pearl Jam at Cathouse

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When Pearl Jam’s 1992 UK tour went on sale just before the end of the previous year, not many people were aware of them. The Seattle band were due to unveil the UK release of their debut album Ten the day after, meaning that Brits could finally see what the US were incessantly going on about.

It was a big deal this gig: promoters refused to upgrade the venue due to high demand of Pearl Jam’s first Scottish gig. It remained special as the band wouldn’t return to the city for another eight years.

Weezer at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut


Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo and Scott Shriner (L-R) of Weezer – Getty

They’d only released their debut album the previous year, but Weezer had to come over to the UK to prove why they were yet another alternative rock sensation.

The ‘Buddy Holly’ video had been doing the rounds on MTV yet Weezer still played King Tut’s to a crowd that got to see most of their debut album live along with a couple of songs from their next album, Pinkerton.

More:

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Nine of the most iconic gigs in Edinburgh music history