Six of the most iconic gigs at King Tut’s in Glasgow

Joe Strummer. Picture: TSPL
Joe Strummer. Picture: TSPL
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“You haven’t made it as a band unless you’ve played King Tuts” - That was the opinion of Mull Historical Society front man Colin MacIntyre on the iconic Glasgow venue.

An unassuming building on Bath Street, Tut’s is easy to walk past without realising it is a gig venue, never mind a breeding ground for some of the world’s best bands.

King Tuts. Picture: Wikimedia

King Tuts. Picture: Wikimedia

A quote from Hunter S Thompson adorns the men’s toilets - “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

That quote sums up the kind of hedonistic approach that has perhaps informed even more reserved bands to set aside some of their wildest performance for King Tuts.

Artists that have just broken through, local acts that no-one has heard of, and even huge groups fancying providing something more intimate, are all among the regulars at Tuts.

Even the tent at T in the Park that bears the venues name has borne witnesses to some of the music world’s luminaries.

Lead singer of Pulp Jarvis Cocker. Picture: TSPL

Lead singer of Pulp Jarvis Cocker. Picture: TSPL

Here are just some of the most important gigs to take place at King Tuts.

Oasis – 1993

It’s the gig that everyone remembers, but that hardly anyone was at. Oasis were signed to Alan McGee’s Creation Record after virtually forcing their way on to the famous stage.

The inside story of Oasis’ fateful gig at the venue was recently retold on the ‘Everything Flows’ blog by Derek McKee, who played in a band called ‘Boyfriend’ that same night.

Idlewild. Picture: submitted

Idlewild. Picture: submitted

Derek recalled being on tour with two other bands before promising that Noel Gallacher, a friend of a friend, and his new band, could join the bill. The only people angrier than the bar staff were the other bands.

Derek said: “Oasis went on to play their 4 song set (Rock n Roll Star, Bring It On Down, Up In The Sky, I Am The Walrus).

“Apart from the Manchester posse, the amount of people actually seeing Oasis play that night probably numbered about 12.”

“My impression of them was that they were a fine bunch of lads, being in their company was like one long party.

The White Stripes – 2001

Before Icky Thump, and even before Seven Nation Army, the White Stripes toured to support their third album ‘White Blood Cells’.

Now playing in arenas and even stadiums in various incarnations, Jack White and his drummer Meg weren’t hitting those dizzy heights in 2001.

That’s how they found themselves playing an 18-song set at King Tuts, with only the most diehard early fans seeing them live.

The show is infamous for including a number of covers, including the now well-regarded cover of Jolene.

It was where many were first introduced to the frenetic, almost frenzied style of playing that made the band superstars.

A bootleg audio recording of the gig has racked up thousands of views on YouTube, with one Glaswegian overheard in the background saying: ‘This is a f***ing religious experience.’

Pulp – 1992/93

Pulp gigs at Tuts were very much like busses, and that’s why they’ve got a dual slot in the list.

After a decade of milling around not breaking the charts, Jarvis Cocker and co played two gigs that perhaps some up more than any the impact Tuts can have.

In October of 1992, a Pulp devotee recalled on a fan website, King Tuts sent to their membership club free tickets to a gig that wasn’t selling well, as they were wont to do.

That gig was Pulp, were an on-form Cocker played to an audience of around 30.

Fast forward just over a year, and a sold out crowd, as noted by journalist Fiona Shepherd, were as appreciative of Cocker’s banter than the bands musical performance.

Joe Strummer – 1999

“Shameless Clash karaoke” was the verdict of one contemporary reviewer when an audience of ‘middle aged men in leather jackets’ cramped into Tut’s for the appearance of a true rock icon.

Strummer’s set is also notable for being the all-time favourite gig of the venue’s promoter, Dave McGeachan, who has seen his fair share of incredible moments.

While that reviewer lamented the ‘inherent sadness’ of Strummer’s performance, McGeachan recalled seeing the Clash hits being played by their frontman as a “magical moment”.

The performance has certainly had a lasting impact, leading to the founding of the annual King Tut’s Joe Strummer tribute night, on the anniversary of Strummer’s death, with profits aiding the charitable foundation which bears his name.

Idlewild – 2008

The Edinburgh trailblazers were never afraid to innovate.

It might seem de rigeur these days, but there were eyebrows raised nine years ago when Idlewild announced their five-date run at King Tut’s.

A different record every night? How would that work?

Well, work it did – a then record setting run (more on that later) that sold out in double time and was given rave reviews.

Fans who bought the season ticket to see Idlewild perform all their albums over five days that fateful December still talk of the run of gigs with a misty look in their eyes.

The View – 2017

We end on the band who are currently in residence at King Tut’s.

That near-decade old record held by Idlewild was shattered when the Dundonians announced their comeback with 6 dates at Tut’s earlier this year.

The gigs sold out in less than 20 minutes.

There’s something just very King Tut’s about The View. Like the old building, they show the signs of having been around a while too, and like Tut’s are at times seen as just a pursuit for diehards.

They also showed commitment to new music by hand-picking a different support act for each night of the run.

The tagline for the shows, held to commemorate ten years since the View’s debut album, is: “A decade of dreams, romance and excess.”

For Tut’s, its been 27 year of dreams, romance, and excess. And long may it continue.