Brainstorm: The Lack of an Odeon in Edinburgh, Today


The Old Odeon on Clerk Street (Cinema Treasures)

Years ago, Edinburgh was arguably one of the most iconic cities in Europe, in terms of its opportunities for music artists, with a vast number of venues across Scotland’s capital, suitable for a variety of styles. Over the years, the city has attracted some of the biggest names in the world, who arrived, performed and came back for more. Now however, the city has seen somewhat of a decline in the number of prominent acts and subsequent swarms of fans visiting its venues for gigs. Across the central belt, Glasgow is now stealing the show, with multiple new and contemporary locations resulting in a memorable concert experience.

The old Odeon, located on Clerk Street was undoubtedly one of Edinburgh’s most significant music venues during the 1970’s. Opened in 1930, as a solely cinema based complex, it was originally known as the New Victoria, before the latter name came into effect in 1964. Its opening date remains a highly significant one – the 25th of August 1930, coinciding with the birth of Edinburgh’s most distinguished actor, Sir Sean Connery.

With a seating capacity which surpassed the 2,000 mark, the Odeon was a very popular attraction for people across the city, with films shown for forty years before it found a second use, as a favourable music venue in 1970.

The 20th March saw the first ever performance at Odeon, with English rock band, Deep Purple, taking to the stage. The second performing act at the newly established venue were The Corries, in July of that year, the Scottish folk trio would go on to perform at the same location on a further nine occasions within the next three years.

Some of the most renowned names in the music industry took to the stage at Odeon, including the likes of: AC/DC, The Bay City Rollers, Sir Rod Stewart, Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Paul McCartney. One of the most iconic gigs held at the Clerk Street establishment was the Edinburgh leg of Blondie’s 1978 UK tour. The tour took place during the same month that the New York founded band released their Parallel Lines album, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

Its reputation as a music venue ended in 1981, when the Odeon was converted into a triple screen cinema. With around 250 gigs in total taking place at Odeon over an eleven-year period, it is clear to see just how popular the complex was with music acts not only from the UK, but further afield. It became a very important part of Edinburgh’s culture, but where today, would you find its successor?

Today’s music scene within the city provokes a number of differing opinions, with many suggesting that Edinburgh lacks a venue of its prestige and reputation. From the Calton Studios to The Queens House, previous generations have seen the city hold a large number of venues for gigs. Currently, however, aside from The Liquid Rooms and The Corn Exchange, the high quality establishments available across Edinburgh are few and far between. This has subsequently led to the general Scottish music scene, slowly but surely relocating west to Clydeside.

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