Saturday, 16 August 2014

Magners Summer Nights at Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

Review Steve Earle and Teenage Fanclub. Magners Summer Nights. Kelvingrove Bandstand. Glasgow

After lying derelict for many years, the 90 year old bandstand in Kelvingrove Park has been restored to its former glory by the Glasgow Building Preservation Society. It was opened in time to host musical events running alongside the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, including concerts by Belle and Sebastian, Horse and Remember Remember. Then, quickly afterwards, the "Magners Summer Nights" brought a mixed selection of bands to the veritable old amphitheatre. This short film by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust has some footage of the two things I remember going to see at the bandstand in the 1980s: Glasgow Youth CND rallies, and Radio Clyde's free concerts.

It was an interesting/unusual (delete as applicable) selection of bands roped into this series of concerts. The Waterboys, Alison Moyet, Squeeze, Capercaillie to name but a few. I got tickets to see Steve Earle on the opening night and then Bellshill's own Teenage Fanclub eight days later.

As you can see from the old footage above, many of the free concerts that used to be held here were mobbed, so I am sure there were plenty of nostalgic people like me coming down to see how the bandstand looked now. I have to say, they've made a great job of the restoration and on a mild, summer night like we had to see Steve Earle it was a great place to sit out and take in some music.

On arrival the Magners advertising and bars were a bit in your face, but I guess you have to expect this as they are the sponsors. The bars were well staffed, even if having to separately go to buy vouchers to use at them seemed a bit unnecessary. Thankfully they didn't just sell their manky cider full of ice cubes. For those of us that had dashed here straight from work their were food stalls selling noodles and rolls and pulled pork too.

Steve Earle on stage at the Kelvingrove bandstand, Glasgow

Steve Earle was doing a solo acoustic set, which was different to when I've seen him at the Barrowlands with his band, the Dukes. (If you don't know his music you might just know him from his role as the drug counsellor to Bubbles in The Wire.) He acknowledged this himself when he admitted that the crowd singing along to "I Ain't Ever Satisfied" was less scary than when he first heard that happening in the Barrowlands. It covered the whole range of his repertoire from "Tom Ames' Prayer", "Devil's Right Hand", "Galway Girl", a Townes Van Zdant and of course "Copperhead Road". He is an old pro at putting a setlist together that takes the crowd along with him and by the end people were dancing at the front of the stage. There was plenty of chat from him too about his drug problems, gun control, and particularly the situation in Gaza, before he played an encore of "Jerusalem". It was written 12 years ago and seemed quite timely.

Great concert, great venue for it.

Teenage Fanclub are one of those Scottish bands that are always quoted by the great and the good as one of the most influential of their time, without ever achieving knockout success. They have an indie rock sound with big West coast American influences which I used to like at the time, but it must be years since I have dug out one of their albums to listen to. Anyway they have a loyal enough following that tickets for this gig sold out in double quick time. I have rarely been to a gig with a more narrow demographic, middle aged, middle class white men (largely), but it was definitely band playing in front of a home crowd that were lapping it up, singing along and dancing away in front of the stage by the end of the night. I just found it all a bit too "nice". I get tired of too much smiley, cheery stuff and tonight we got 90 minutes of it. Lovely stuff, but all just a bit too jolly for my taste.

Fannies at the Kelvingrove bandstand

It was a grand old night, but the main star of both the gigs I went to was the venue itself. Well designed, beautifully renovated. I look forward to spending more afternoons and evenings here.

Long live the Kelvingrove bandstand!

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