A centre of music and a stomping ground for both young and seasoned bands — think Belle And Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellis, Travis, and Primal Scream — Glasgow is a melodious smorgasbord. From snug, unpretentious cubbyholes to renowned band haunts, here are the best music venues in Glasgow.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Music Venue, $$$
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut | Courtesy of Glasgow Life
A mandatory musical pilgrimage, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut certainly holds the crown. A well-known launch pad for emerging bands, this iconic venue has hosted some big name bands in the early days of their career. In 1993, Alan McGee signed Oasis at this very spot. Unsurprisingly, King Tut’s has a loyal tribe of followers who venture back time after time to taste the signature lager and witness musical gold. Radiohead, No Doubt, The Killers, Florence And The Machine, Manic Street Preachers, Bloc Party, Paolo Nutini and Juliette Lewis are just a few who have rocked this hut. An indescribable atmosphere.
Barrowland Ballroom is a flame that should never be extinguished. Many memories have been made here since its opening in 1934. Delightfully divey, this aging bat of a building still has a spark, which is only accentuated by its famous, neon, star-clad sign. Barrowlands, which can host up to 2,100 folk, is an ideal place for gigs and concerts, thanks to its incredible acoustics and floor made for dancing. U2, Oasis, The Stranglers, The Clash, The Smiths and Foo Fighters have all showed this stage who’s boss.
A feast not only for the eyes, but for the ears and soul, Òran Mór is as good as it gets. A music den in its own right — ‘Oran Mor’ is Gaelic for ‘big song’ or ‘great melody of life’ — it seems only fitting that this converted church has welcomed the likes of Amy Winehouse, The Proclaimers and Calvin Harris. Wells of whiskies, cocktails and a smashing atmosphere separate this venue from the rest.
Visionary and innovative, The Glad Café is the most happening spot in Glasgow. A laidback atmosphere compliments the vast array of musical styles from indie and electronic, to experimental, world and traditional. Like Jack Kerouac’s beat generation, both internationally renowned bands and local musical prodigies flock here. The stellar acoustics, cracking menu, craft beers and The Glad Foundation (a charity committed to providing Glasgow’s youth with affordable and free music lessons) adds to the wondrous appeal.
Bar Bloc, with its killer vibes, desirable prices, perfect dose of quirky, delicious grub and sensational craft beer selection, is everything you could ever want in an independent drinking den and catch-up quarters. The cherry on top is that it also transforms into a music venue showcasing alternative concerts and ongoing gigs — for free.
Mono can only be described as an absolute gem. Situated in the Merchant City area, it plays host to Monorail Music, an independent record shop sporting all the good stuff from vinyl records to CDs. Hours can be spent scanning every surface sifting through classics, second-hand jewels and music from near and far. The unwavering community spirit and ethics are as wildly contagious as the string of ever-present live gigs from bands worth discovering.
Having a belter of a time at ABC is as easy as, well…123! Kicking about since 1875, this glorious Art Deco edifice has worn many hats over the decades. Originally one of the first cinemas in Scotland, this beauty is now a magnet for epic gigs and concerts. With over 400 events a year, in tandem with the slinky bars and wild club nights, there’s always something going on. Adele, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ed Sheeran, Chvrches and Bruno Mars have all worked wonders under the resplendent rays of the giant mirror ball amidst the arty 19th-century steelwork.
The kind of place you can really let loose and get swept away with the night’s festivities, Nice N Sleezy is devoid of unnecessary pomp and pageantry. And yet, it couldn’t be more enticing. With kaleidoscope walls, food that hits the spot, nooks and crannies to be discovered, and most importantly, an infinite supply of bands casting their spell across the crowd, this fine music establishment sports the ideal blend of intimacy and freedom. A creative sanctuary suited to cool kids and music buffs.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall may be the home base of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, yet it is also a playground for musicians of all genres. The Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash, BB King, Van Morrison, Ray LaMontagne and The Eels are just a few of the greats to have played here. To a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Down By The Riverside, the prolific Nelson Mandela received a standing ovation as he entered this building in 1993, during a visit to Glasgow to receive the freedoms of nine British cities.
Those familiar with the rowdy yet enchanting atmosphere of a ceilidh will fall head over heels for Old Fruitmarket. Unwavering in period charm, the beloved balcony, vast sea of cast iron columns, and vaulted ceiling all add that extra pizzazz. Attached to the City Halls, this legendary venue was once a market filled with fruit until around the 1970s. Today, it’s a cracking venue for jazz, ceilidhs, rock, pop and more. This is the spot if pokey, subterranean clubs aren’t your thing.