WHEN conversation turns to the finest live crowds to ply your trade in front of, it’s a safe bet that Glasgow will be a regular fixture. Known for unbridled passion, inebriation and receptiveness, the fact that so many world renowned artists cite the town as one of their favourites to play in is not the product of a mere pleasantry. However, what often goes overlooked are the venues that are just as intrinsic to the city’s reputation as the revellers that supply that revered energy to the bands.
Granted, The Barrowlands and King Tut’s are spoken about in ubiquity when the UK’s historic music halls are discussed but there’s an unsung hero amid the fanfare that surrounds them which has been all too often taken for granted.
The sentiment of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’ has never applied quite so emphatically about bricks and mortar than in the case of Sauchiehall Street’s O2 ABC. Largely overshadowed in mainstream news outlets by the architectural grandeur of The Art School, the ABC has played a pivotal party in not only that illustrious strip of land but also in the hearts and minds of those that frequent gigs, club nights and everything in between.
After being unveiled to the public as The Diorama in 1882, it may not play host to a steady stream of incredible musicians until over a century later but it would undergo a number of incarnations over the years that ensured it was always a cornerstone of conviviality for native Glaswegians.
From spells as a circus to a skating rink and one of the city’s many thriving dancehalls, it would soon become heed the call of the explosion of cinema in popular culture and open its doors as the ABC Cinema.
From 1929, the ornate building would act as a conduit through which Glaswegians could find escapism in the silver screen and moved with the technical progressions of the genre. After years of providing cinema-goers with captivating experiences and many seminal moments in their lives, the ABC would close its doors in 1999 before plans for its renovation as a music venue were begun by David McBride of Regular Music in 2002.
Three long years and a major conversion later, the ABC would reach completion in 2005 before being rebranded as the O2 ABC that we’ve all come to love from 2009.
Amid the carnage that would ensue at Jellybaby, Propaganda, Love Music every single week, the venue would garner a special place in the hearts of the city’s avid music lovers due to the sheer magnitude of the acts that could be found gracing its stages on a weekly basis. For TTV, we’ve had the pleasure of nurturing a long relationship with the venue, utilising it as a venue for Tenement Trail as well as filming, reviewing or interviewing world-renowned artists including Rival Sons, Toots & The Maytals, The View, Brian Fallon, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, Thundercat, Action Bronson, Mac Demarco, Warpaint, The Underachievers, DJ Premier, Graham Parker, Bizarre Ride, the late Charles Bradley, The Wailers and more.
For homegrown artists that have witnessed the venue grow and flourish in acclaim right in front of them, the venue would become a milestone or a measuring stick of success and it was a joy to behold sets from Baby Strange, WHITE, Hector Bizerk, CHVRCHES, Tijuana Bibles, Glasvegas, Primal Scream and countless others as the looming presence of the UK’s largest disco ball hovered overhead.
A crown jewel in a music scene that is prospering at an unfounded rate, we can but hope that its absence is short-lived and that the o2 ABC Glasgow can rise from the ashes and take pride of place among our finest music venues once more.
For now, we have no choice but to regale ourselves with the halcyon days of yesteryear and will do so with the plentiful amount of ABC based content that we’ve amassed below now: