Brainstorm: The Lack of an Odeon in Edinburgh, Today

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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.

Five of the Best Lost Venues in Edinburgh

Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

A phrase that could fast become an epitaph for Edinburgh’s dwindling live venues. In recent years, the city’s music lovers have lamented the end of several independent record stores as well as the infamous closure of Lothian Road’s Picture House; replaced by the city’s fifth Wetherspoon pub in a two mile radius. Market Street’s Electric Circus is also facing the axe in order to expand an art gallery. Whatever magic dust seasoned the city’s sweat box basements and dingy dancefloors now seems in shorter supply than ever, so the best we can do is cast our minds back to some of the best noise pollution haunts that are no longer with us and celebrate some of the many famous faces that graced the capital.

TIFFANY’S, St. Stephens Street, Stockbridge

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Originally opened as The Grand Theatre in 1900, this staple of the Edinburgh music archive became a cinema in 1920 and a dancehall in the 60s, playing host to the likes of Iggy Pop, Simple Minds, Dr. Feelgood and John Cooper Clarke in the early punk days of the late 70s. Tiffany’s would host gigs on Monday nights after a promotion company at the time agreed a rent free deal (as it was believed no one would go out on a Monday night). The deal soon became something of a masterstroke with the only Monday late license in Edinburgh at the time, sparking popularity beyond expectation. The hall later rebranded as Cinderella Rockafeller’s in 1982. The grand building sadly burned down in 1991 and flats now stand in its place.

THE VENUE, Calton Road

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The Venue only shut its doors for good in 2006 and is still fondly remembered by many locals throughout the city. Opened in the early 80s as the Jailhouse, The Venue boasts one of Edinburgh’s best archived performer lists; welcoming the likes of The Stone Roses, Manic Street Preachers, Pavement and The Strokes.

 ABC REGAL CINEMA, Lothian Road

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Most locals today will recognise the site of the ABC Regal Cinema as the Odeon on Lothian Road. Wind the clock back, however, to the mid 60s and this famous building played host to some of the most legendary names in Rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps most famous is The Beatles’ show in 1964. Amid the wave of early Beatlemania, photographs still circulate of the day the city went wild for the fab four; many fans camping outside overnight for a shot at tickets. Ironically, Eileen Oliver and Pat Conner (who collected 8,000 signatures as teenagers to bring The Beatles to Edinburgh) were not in the audience. Their mothers had not let them camp overnight for tickets on the Saturday evening and when they turned up early Sunday morning they had sold out. In its heyday, the Regal also featured performances from Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and The Beach Boys.

CLOUDS/COASTERS, Tollcross

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Pretty much every Edinburgh resident under 30 will associate this spot with Cav, whatever their connection with the place. Step into Cav today and your scepticism would be pardoned when somebody claimed that Pink Floyd, The Jam and The Ramones to name but a few graced the sticky floors of ‘Clouds’ in the early 70s. The club was renamed Coasters in 1979, famed for its Roller Disco, Dreamland Ballroom and performances from the likes of The Jam, Depeche Mode, R.E.M. and The Clash. In recent years, the club has undergone several million pounds worth of revamps and a handful of name changes before settling on Cav back in 2012. For better or worse, don’t expect to see the next breakthrough guitar band grace their presence any time soon.

MCGOOS, High Street

The Moonrakers at McGoos in the 1960s.

The Moonrakers at McGoos in the 1960s.

 

Beginning as the Palace Picture House in the late 1920s, McGoos was Edinburgh’s Mod epicentre in the 60s. All night soul discos would take place most weekends, but it is perhaps most fondly remembered for hosting The Who on its stage in 1967. It only cost six shillings (around 30p) to see The Who play McGoos and tickets could only be purchased on the door. Not long after, the venue unfortunately closed after being deemed unsafe by the Fire Brigade. The front facade still remains on the High Street, opposite the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

THE SOUTHERN BAR

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Still alive and well in the Southside, but worth mentioning purely for Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl’s impromptu acoustic set in 1991!

While now may be a time to lament closures, restrictions and good moments past when it comes to live music in Edinburgh, the city can brag as rich a cultural legacy from its past performances as it can its other iconic roots. While The Fringe and the Hogmanay shows dominate playing host to the best acts on offer nowadays, we can hope that the circuit returns to a similar vein of form one day. However, in the age of major sponsored arenas and European-wide festivals (albeit on hold in Scotland at the moment), the days of a fiver effectively paying you into a tunnel to see the hottest acts around may be consigned to days gone by.

*Pictures courtesy of EdinburghGigArchive

Tickets being touted byRobbie William’s management on resale sites

Robbie Williams’s management team is placing tickets directly on to resale ticketing websites at higher prices, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has found.

Ie:music put tickets for Williams’s 2017 tour on Get Me In and Seatwave – in one case for £65 more, before fees, than a similar ticket on Ticketmaster.

The company has previously called on the government to take stronger action against resale sites.

Ie:music has not responded to repeated requests for a statement.

Ticketmaster, which owns Get Me In and Seatwave, said the tickets – which it describes as “platinum” tickets – on the sites were “priced according to demand, in consultation with our clients, the event organisers”.

Tickets on Ticketmaster for seats on level one, block 126 – for Robbie Williams’s gig at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, on Friday 2 June 2017 – were found by the  Victoria Derbyshire show to be priced at £95, before fees.

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Tickets as they appear on ticketmaster, the primary sale site

But on Get Me In, for “platinum” seats on level one, block 125, at the same gig, seats were priced at £160 before fees – £65 more expensive.

Because the tickets came straight from the artist’s management team, all the profit goes directly to them.

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Tickets for sale on the resale site, getmein.

A statement from Ticketmaster said: “Platinum tickets are a very small percentage of the best seats in the house that are priced according to demand, in consultation with our clients, the event organisers.

“The UK live events industry has been successfully using platinum for many years so that the full value of these tickets goes back to the rights holders and not to resellers.”

In Italy, the country’s lawmakers have moved to ban secondary ticketing, after a media investigation found evidence that Live Nation Italy was selling thousands of tickets directly on Viagogo at higher prices.

In a previous statement to Billboard Magazine, Live Nation Italy said the allegations related to a “small number of tickets, for a handful of international artists”.

Neither Viagogo or Live Nation UK have responded to repeated requests for a statement.

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