Glasgow is the UK's first UNESCO City of Music. Award-winning singer-songwriter Eddi Reader answers our questions on why Glasgow is a top worldwide city for music lovers.
Famed for her chart-topping single Perfect with band Fairground Attraction, Eddi Reader has enjoyed decades of success as one of Scotland's most recognisable voices. The singer-songwriter narrates the new City Sightseeing Glasgow music bus tour. Read on to find out why Eddi thinks Glasgow is a top music city for musicians and audiences.
1. What makes going to a gig in Glasgow so special?
For me, it's because it's my hometown. I know of no other feeling like it. Even when I play London I don't get as nervous as when I play Glasgow. There's an anticipation that I will be in front of loads of people who, like me, judge what’s great and what’s baloney about music. With a Glasgow audience, I feel you get a massive cuddle. Thank God! And when other people come to play, they get honest feedback from honest performances. You have to step it up when you perform in front of the Glaswegian audience. They’ve seen it all.
2. Tell us about a music moment that sums up your experience of the city?
Bob Dylan at the Barrowland Ballroom. I was in the audience and I felt the whole room willing to out sing Dylan. He felt it too and I know he became one of us at that moment when "HOW DOES IT FEEL" roared out from the crowd. He was so taken aback he said: "Hey you guys can SING!"
At the end, I was outside on London Road waiting for my husband John. Some cheeky Glasgow dude breezed past me and said: “See Hen? That's how it's done!” Cheeky! But I knew where he was coming from. I’d say the same to myself. The critic is strong in the Glesga mind.
3. Why do so many talented musicians come out of Glasgow?
Image credit: Sean Purser
For my generation brought up in the 60s and 70s in Glasgow, we lived as artists who couldn’t get a record deal or a book deal in our own town. Folk clubs were my solution and busking in Paris. London was elusive but a massive filter many of us believed we needed to go through to find our way to our creative endeavours. Today many of the new generations don't have to do that and there is a new confident energy about the place. Young artists can feel more nurtured by their own people. I feel the energy is so potent because it was buried under rubble for so long.
4. What's your favourite Glasgow venue?
The 'Glasgow Barralands' of course. A close second was the ABC.. may it rest in peace. I never got to try the Athenaeum, the old theatre, a music hall in Buchanan Street. I went in once to look around. It would have been special to try to play there.
5. When travelling the world, how do you describe Glasgow and the city's music scene?
Image credit: Gaelle Beri
I would say that if you went to a gig in Glasgow, particularly at Celtic Connections time, you will find yourself uplifted by the performance. But not only that, you will get caught up in an atmosphere of the rarest beauty and pleasure.
6. What would you recommend to first-time visitors to the city?
Check out a show at the Citizens Theatre (temporarily closed for major refurbishment) in the southside to get a feel of the peoples' places. Go to a session in Stravaigin on Tuesday evenings. Go to Glasgow Green and imagine the history of the yearly fairs and the public meetings over the years, with crowds campaigning for better conditions for communities. Visit the People's Palace for social history.
Also, walks by the River Clyde and notice the beauty of the sun setting in the west. Give all the buskers your change. Know that they are a tradition in our streets. If you drop 10 oranges you will only need to pick up one as all the rest will be collected for you. It's a kind place.
Enjoy looking at the city from the top of Sauchiehall street all the way down to the old stock exchange. If it's raining and cold head for the Gallery of Modern Art or Mackintosh at the Willow.