When we were planning this new series celebrating the best Scottish venues,
there was only one place we could start. The Barrowland Ballroom (more commonly
shortened to 'the Barrowland') in Glasgow's East End is as iconic as many of the
bands and artists who have played there.
With its sticky marshmallow-soft floors that bounce with the crowd, to the stars on the roof and the staff in their tabards that seem to have worked there since it was built in the 1930s, the Barrowland has housed many a favourite gig for many a music fan.
It's rough yet reliable and far more enjoyable to visit than its commercial branded sisters.
Mike Bailey from Bailey & the Fault played the Barrowland in 2007, and remembers the occasion well:
"I still remember looking out and seeing friends and peers in the audience, their faces beaming with encouragement and pride – helping me realise, in that moment, exactly what I was accomplishing. It was an incredible night, both for me personally and for the band.
"Every young musician in Glasgow, probably even the whole of Scotland, dreams of playing the Barrowlands. From an early age I watched many of my ‘heroes’ throw it down on that stage – the stars on the ceiling, the sticky, plastic cup covered floor, but most importantly the incredible atmosphere, alive with an indescribable warmth.
"Looking out at the crowd in THAT venue is something truly special, and my memories of that performance will stay with me forever. The crowd give back everything they are given and more. Good people for good music. That’s all any of us could ask for.
A few UtR writers share their Barras memories...
Elaine Liddle: 2005. A roomful of uncharacteristically cheerful gothy people, staring reverently in awe at Trent Reznor. It was the first time Nince Inch Nails had been here for about a decade so the air was almost crackling with excitement and total hero worship.
We were behind an absolute tank of a man who became a legend by helping the entire crowd around him to stay standing. Trent bitched about the fact that not enough people loved The Fragile before 'Starf***ers'. Aaron North from Icarus Line was the guitarist and fired himself off the stage into the crowd at the end, landing on my friend's head.
Lisa-Marie Ferla: My favourite Barrowlands experience was probably the first time I went to a gig on my own - it was to see Ryan Adams, who as anyone who knows me will tell you is my fave (shameless plug), and my sister was meant to be coming with me but because she was ill I punted her ticket to a tout and chatted up some boys to wriggle my way to the front. Ryan was drunk on champagne and walked along the barrier, and somebody threw a Celtic shirt on the stage but security wouldn't let me take a picture. I then had to explain to the band why half the crowd booed when the boys and I waited outside till 1am to meet them.
Aimi Gold: After spending a year travelling solo I returned to Glasgow brimming with nostalgia and looking to party with old friends. Fever to Tell had been the soundtrack to my first year in Glasgow and I was excited to have tickets to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Barrowlands.
Sitting on my best friend's shoulders singing along to Maps gave me an overwhelming sense of belonging. The venue is comforting, its history and worn furnishings make it like going to your Gran's house for tea and it totally made me glad to be home. Yuck.
Words: Aimi Gold
Where: Barrowland Ballroom, 244 Gallowgate, Glasgow