The Apollo - Glasgow, Scotland 1982
The Apollo - Glasgow, Scotland 1982

Second City of the Empire

Located on the banks of the River Clyde, in West Central Scotland, the City of Glasgow is Scotland's largest city and the third largest city in the United Kingdom. With a history dating back over 2 thousand years, Glasgow was one of the premier cities of Europe and came to be known as the 'Second City of the Empire'. Glasgow's position on the River Clyde, where Trade Winds first hit Europe, gave its merchants a two to three week advantage over other ports in Britain and Europe. The port city thrived on the West Indian and American trade agreements and become one of the richest cities in 18th century Europe. Glasgow merchants, such as John Glassford and James Dunlop made obscene amounts of money off the tobacco trade and built huge mansions laid out on streets named after themselves on the western edge of the city. These merchants would come to be known as the "Tobacco Lords".

The close proximity of the largest coal fields and the richest iron-ore mines in all the British Isles kept the city of Glasgow in good stead for the ensuing Industrial Revolution, and Glasgow turned their new found industrial might to the building of ships and steam locomotives. "More ships were built on the banks of the Clyde before the war than in England, Germany and America put together." These were exported throughout the world, and the term "Clyde-Built" became synonymous with solidity and reliability. In the 20th century however, Glasgow experienced a severe economic downturn as demands for ships and locomotives dwindled due to increase competition overseas. Today most of the shipyards on the River Clyde have disappeared; houses now stand where once the great oceanliners such as the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were built.

Perched at the top of Glasgow's Renfield Street was the Apollo Theatre. Originally known as Green's Playhouse, the theatre was a vast 3-story structure that at one time housed a cinema, a ballroom, 3 cafes and assorted lobbies and waiting rooms. Built in 1927 for Bert and Fred Green, the most successful cinema proprietors and film renters in Scotland, Green's Playhouse was the largest cinema in all of Europe, with a seating capacity of 4,200. By the mid-sixties however, the cinema was having trouble filling the auditorium and began using the venue more and more for rock concerts. The measure proved only a temporary remedy and Green's Playhouse closed it's doors on June 30, 1973.

The venerable theatre would not stayed closed for long however, and 3 short months later it reopened its doors under new management, Unicorn Leisure, and with a fresh coat of paint and new name: the Apollo Theatre. Under the experienced hand of Unicorn Leisure's management, it became the leading concert house in all of Scotland. The sheer size of the venue and it's elevated stage could be daunting, but the winning over of the typical Glaswegian crowd was the true test of a band's mettle. A Glasgow audience was said to be one of the most demanding in the world. "Such was its reputation that one relieved act is reputed to have printed T-shirts saying: I Played the Apollo ... and Survived." --

...we were all really, really nervous....Glaswegians were said to be the most difficult of any audience in Britain, especially on a Friday night...when they got paid and got pissed. -- excerpt from Sharon Osbourne's autobiography, 'Extremes'
I remember at the time thinking this is rock'n'roll, just standing on that stage at the Apollo in front of so many people, and having to get roadies to wring out the sweat from our T-shirts because we were so hot...the Apollo was a terrifying venue because the stage was so high. You felt very, very exposed up there and, added to that, you had a hard, industrial audience. I think if you got off on the wrong foot it would be a disaster...--Rick Parfitt, Status Quo
The old Glasgow Apollo was wild; the balcony used to visibly bounce up and down. I was there with Lynyrd Skynyrd in '75 when a midget fell from the first circle into the stalls. It was one hell of a shock, but I can laugh about it now. If I'm being honest, I could laugh about it then as well. I'm not proud of that.-- Steve Coogan
Back to My Old Stompin' Ground

Rory Gallagher played the Apollo on 10 separate occasions and at least one time when it was still Green's Playhouse. If Belfast was regarded as Rory's "second home" then Glasgow was surely a close third, and when visiting Scotland's 'Second City', the Apollo Theatre would have been his preferred "Stompin' Ground". Reviews of several of his performances there can be found in John Ganjamie's excellant repository of articles at article 1, article 2, and article 3. But in a nutshell, Rory Gallagher's shows at the Apollo were simply incredible.

[I] remember seeing the Amazing Mr.Gallagher on 2 march 1973 [at Green's Playhouse] support was Greenslade (they didnt have a guitarist). A banner above the stage saying "its good its guiness"with guiness scored out and GALLAGHER put in instead.Classic set included tracks from the Blueprint album too! High point of the night was when Gerry McAvoy told us it was Rory's birthday and, already on our feet, we sang happy bithday to him! That Famous Choir never sounded better and the measure of the man is how humble he was, genuinely touched by our affection for him! 1 of the few real gentlemen in the business he is so sadly
A battered strat; a tartan shirt; hair clinging to his face with sweat; total dedication to his music - and his fans. This quiet-spoken gentle man was once the darling of Glasgow's Apollo Theatre and I saw him there. He had injured his hand, and while many others would cancel a gig (or a tour) we knew Rory would come. For an hour and a half or so, the Glasgow crowd kept up a seemingly constant chant of "Rory! Rory! Rory!".The houselights went up but no-one moved - there may have been an announcement but no-one would have heard. The balcony was bouncing to the stamp of the audience's feet. Then,quite slowly and without introduction he walked onto the stage - the place exploded. The energy and anticipation the crowd gave off can't be described. They made it a great gig - and Rory didn't let them down. --

So have a listen to Rory Gallagher at the Apollo Theatre on May 28, 1982, his electrifying guitar work hitting you between the eyes like a Glasgow Kiss.*

*A Glasgow Kiss
A Headbutt to the lumpy bit on the nose. The headbutt is much used as a method of attack in Glasgow pubs on a friday night- hence the name The Glasgow Kiss.

Comments to date: 1. Page 1 of 1.

Richard Messum   Canada Postd at 3:45pm on Sunday, March 15th, 2009
Milo, i'm sorry, but i've forgotten the password :o(