Where The Bands Are

I hear the guitars ringin’ out
Ringin’ out down union street
I hear the lead singer shoutin’ out, girl
I wanna be a slave to the beat
Yeah, tonight I wanna break my chains
Somebody break my heart……….

I wanna be where the bands are

Bruce Springsteen


And that’s what took me to The Hydro the other night, I guess. It’s great by the way. Glasgow has – for the first time I can think of – commissioned and been delivered a purpose-built (pop) music venue. The others – and there are some great ones – have never really had rock ‘n’ roll in mind when the architects were involved. They’ve been shoved around and converted, adapted and reconfigured and often with excellent results.(Barrowlands, King Tuts, Oran Mor) But The Hydro is something quite special and all of us – especially me at the end of the year -are going to enjoy being there.

But here’s the thing: I went along the other night  – the less said about the gig, the better really – but what really shocked me was the people in the corporate box we were kindly seated in all acted and talked as if they were in their own living rooms. They drank, ate…well I get all of that…but talked at volumes which made the massive PA system irrelevant at points. What is all that about? It’s as if they think it doesn’t really make any difference. I don’t understand it and, as a musician on the stage, it’s the worst feeling. But it’s the norm now. And it’s not just because of the act; I was amazed at the full-scale conversations going on all around me even at the Springsteen show at Hampden in the summer and if you think Glastonbury is full of people who only want to ‘listen’ to music, you couldn’t be more wrong.When we first hosted Mary Gauthier on the AC a few years ago she told me how she’d never played her own home town of New Orleans because it was a ‘party town’ and she needed a listening room. Exactly Mary…oh that we would call them all that. There’s a lovely ‘listening room’ in Glasgow. Cafe Brel – it holds about 50 people. What we now need is for the audience to let the other great venues becoming listening rooms too. So if, like Bruce, you want to go where the bands are you might want to think a little bit about how the bands feel…listening might be a good place to start.


Darden Smith knows a thing or two about audiences. he certainly knows how to work them. I spent a very enjoyable few weeks on tour with Darden opening up for us (McIntosh Ross) a few years back. By the time we got on he’d made them laugh, cry and, no doubt, fall in love. On his new record, Love Calling, he’s fallen in love himself and I suspect we’ll hear more about that on Friday. He’s in town to support Laura Cantrell at their sold out show in St Andrews In The Square (another great listening room) and he’ll play his set then travel like the wind to join us for the second half of Another Country. I recommend it highly, time spent with Darden is never time wasted and you’ll feel life is better for his songs and conversation.


This Friday too we’ll get round to playing you some fine new records by Israel Nash Gripka, Tony McLaughlin and Mazzy Star and The Head and The Heart. We will also celebrate Austin Texas – home of Darden Smith – with some very appropriate Texans. You know that this will all be beautifully punctuated by some wonderful records from the vaults because, as you well know, we love country music.

See you Friday from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.



5 thoughts on “Where The Bands Are

  1. Great blog post. Really looking forward to the Darden Smith show with laura Cantrell. Saw him a few years back in King Tuts and of course what can I say about his lp with Boo – Evidence. A classic.

    Talking at gigs….don’t get me started.

  2. Totally agree with the talking through gigs. When did it become ok?

    We were at a gig recently and could not believe how loudly people were shouting, talking and generally ignoring the act which they had paid money to see. We were left cringing as some people laughed and cackled through, what was supposed to be, an intimate moment in the show.


  3. Talking at gigs is one of my pet peeves, too—it infuriates me. It may be just one of the reasons that I am more inclined towards more intimate gigs these days, which tend to attract more discerning audiences. Even that is not foolproof, though, sadly. I love the notion of a “listening room”.

    I walked past the still-work-in-progress Hydro when I was in Glasgow a month or so back. It certainly looks impressive, and hopefully some day I’ll experience it from the inside. I welcome the celebration of Austin, TX too—I was there about this time last year for the Film Festival (which has a strong emphasis on writers, hence much of its personal appeal) and fell in love with the place, in spite of only being there for a weekend! I have found, retrospectively, that more and more artists that I am drawn to have a connection with Austin. Whilst I understand its status as a haven for creative types, I do wonder if there’s some other reason that I was so taken with it. Either way, bring it on!

  4. Spot on about talking at gigs, Ricky … and when you bear in mind the cost of tickets in certain cases, all the more frustrating. A trend that perhaps has its roots in the corporate boxes at sporting venues. Not what it should be about. I’d choose ‘more intimate’ every time.

  5. Well said Ricky. It’s time that venues used their staff to weed out persistent talkers and put them out. Completely disrespectful.

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