Glasgow Hydro hailed as ‘premier league’ of venues

Glasgow is poised to enter the “premier league” of global entertainment with the opening of its landmark new concert arena, its operators have claimed.

The Glasgow Hydro. Picture: Robert Perry

The lid has been lifted on the £125 million Hydro venue exactly ten years after plans were first unveiled for the 13,000-capacity complex.

Now the city is setting its sights on the world’s top performers, the biggest award ceremonies and new music festivals to fill the venue.

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The Hydro – unveiled before several hundred VIPs who were entertained by indie band Admiral Fallow – is also expected to dramatically boost Glasgow’s profile as a Unesco global “city of music,” an honour it won five years ago.

The Glasgow Hydro. Picture: Robert Perry

About 130 gigs a week are staged across the city at present, generating some £75 million for its economy every year.

But it is hoped the Hydro – to be run by the management of the neighbouring SECC complex – will host 140 events annually, generating an additional £130m for the local economy.

With the Hydro already due to host the Mobos next month, other major ceremonies on its radar could include the Brit Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. The venue is also due to host netball and gymnastics events at next year’s Commonwealth Games. The 45-metre edifice was designed by London architects Foster & Partners.

City council leader Gordon Matheson hailed the Hydro as the city’s new “acoustic spaceship” and predicted Glaswegians would swiftly claim it as their own. He said: “It has a wow ­factor. It’s Glasgow’s own global music colosseum on the banks of the Clyde, and it demonstrates to the rest of the world the ­nature of Glasgow’s global ambitions.”

Picture: Robert Perry

In a specially recorded video message, comedian Billy Connolly – who was born in the city – said: “No-one deserves this more than Glasgow, no city on earth. There’s more music here than any city I’ve experienced in my life.”

Its backers claim the Hydro is “absolutely unique” because of its scale, the fact it has been purpose-built and its state-of-the-art facilities. Features include a “translucent skin” which can glow in a vast range of different colours and have images projected on to its surface.

Work began on the 64-acre site, the former car park of the nearby SECC, in February 2011 shortly before Scottish Hydro was unveiled as the venue’s official backer in a 15-year, ten-year deal.

Its completion date had to be put back several weeks by contractors, led by firm Lend Lease, and was further delayed by a fire on the site in June. However, earlier this week it was announced that the final go-ahead had been given for Rod Stewart to christen the venue on Monday night.

The Glasgow Hydro lit up for the first time. Picture: Robert Perry

John Sharkey, chief executive of the SECC, said: “Glasgow has always enjoyed a great reputation for music but now we have a venue to match.”


13,000 Total capacity for a seated and standing audience.

140 Events expected to be held at the Hydro in its first year.

£125m Total cost of building the iconic venue.

£15m Value of Scottish Hydro’s ten-year sponsorship deal.

100 The number of tables available in the Hydro’s Clyde Built Bar & Kitchen.

£3,000 Annual cost of a membership for the venue’s VIP Hydro Club.

330 Tonnes weight of the central roof section of the venue.

45 metres is the total height of the building.

40 The number of fire-fighters who helped bring the fire in June under control.