The Top 20 Scottish Gigs of all Time

SO NOW you know. Our panel's choice of most significant Scottish gig of all time is... Oasis at King Tut's. Do you agree? Are you outraged and insulted? We've had plenty of feedback over the course of this week, mostly surprisingly positive (we must have got it right, then), although others questioned the whole point of the exercise - and, as one reader put it, our "wayward and haughty selection" (the main complaint in this case, it seems, being that we failed to include Pere Ubu).

"As even my 13-year-old daughter said when I wanted to take her to a film she had doubts about, 'What do critics know?'" our critic complained. A perfectly fair point. Perhaps we know nothing. Tell us what YOU think, at

1: Oasis, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 31 May 1993

WHEN the idea of listing Scotland's 20 most significant gigs was first mooted, one show in particular leapt immediately to mind, and refused to budge from deliberations. Oasis's legendary gig at King Tut's in Glasgow looms so large over Scottish pop lore that it had to be the No 1 choice of our panel. Because it is - no matter how devalued the term - legendary, with all the baggage that such a description comes with.

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So, as Noel Gallagher once wrote, what's the story? The most commonly cited version of events has five mouthy Mancunians rolling up at the venue without a booking and gatecrashing the bill, which already comprises three other bands. They go on first in front of a sparse early-evening crowd. Alan McGee, head of Creation Records, is there to see his latest signings 18 Wheeler (only remembered now as the ultimate bridesmaids in pop), but is so taken aback by the uninvited guests that he whips out the chequebook there and then, and the rest is Britpop wars, tea with the Prime Minister, two great albums then a steady creative decline, and a seemingly unassailable status as the nation's favourite band.

It may have gone down like that - or Oasis may have been invited to the showcase, and Alan McGee might have known precisely what he was getting into... With so few people in attendance to verify the details, the enigma of Oasis at Tut's has snowballed, to the extent that the venue was recently included in New York Magazine's list of the top ten must-visit attractions in the world.

Aren't all legends subject to a bit of embroidery along the way? What actually happened or how good, bad or indifferent the gig was would only get in the way of a fantastic, even romantic story. But if you really must know what it was like to be at Scotland's most significant gig of all time, why not ask one of the thousands who say they were there?


2: The Beatles, Two Red Shoes, Elgin, 3 January, 1963

ON 31 DECEMBER 1962, the Beatles made their final appearance at the Star Club in Hamburg. They then flew, via London, to Aberdeen for a five-day tour of northern Scotland during a winter described as "the worst on record". The opening gig, at the Longmore Hall in Keith, was cancelled and thus the Two Red Shoes hosted their first live date of what would prove a momentous year. "Elgin was the strangest gig we ever played," Ringo Starr later remembered. "It was an L-shaped room and we were at the wrong end." Legend recounts that the few braving the weather to attend were less than impressed. This was certainly true at the Museum Hall at Bridge Of Allan two days later. "Not many people came," booking agent Andy Lothian recalled in 1986, "but I collected something like 3s/10d from the stage when the group came off." Within a week of that night, the song which closed each show, Please Please Me, was issued as a single and nothing was the same again. By December, Beatlemania was rife. The Beatles returned to Scotland with Lothian and Albert Bonici, owner of the Two Red Shoes, as co-promoters.


3: Jesus and Mary Chain, Meat Whiplash and Primal Scream, Splash 1, Glasgow, 24 March 1985

IN late 1984, East Kilbride's The Jesus and Mary Chain released the landmark, feedback-drenched Creation records single Upside Down. Their notoriety spread and quickly peaked on 15 March 1985 at North London Polytechnic, where a riot ensued. NME had a field day and the warning was clear: unless you're insane, avoid their gigs.

Later, lots of "clinically insane" fans duly turned up at the Splash 1 club in Glasgow to be greeted with intimate body searches and the destruction of such lethal weapons as lipstick. The fledgling Primal Scream took the stage and their edgy spin on folk-rock augured well. They were quickly followed by Meat Whiplash and JAMC. Then something odd happened. The bouncers formed a cordon between band and stage, inhibiting any chance of seeing JAMC perform. But, as JAMC had to walk through the crowd to get on and off the stage, the security was pointless.

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An evening of rock'n'roll lunacy, orchestrated by svengali Alan McGee and the beginnings of true greatness.


4: Runrig, Balloch Park, Loch Lomond, 22 June 1991

YOU want big? Look no further than Runrig. Subtlety is just not part of their armoury. By the turn of the 1990s, nearly 20 years into their career, shows in big tops and on castle esplanades plus five-night runs at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall were the norm for the Skye band.

Their stadium rock approach to traditional Celtic music had made them simultaneously Scotland's most popular and reviled band.

Their epic tendencies were deployed to greatest effect at this massive outdoor gig, which is still regarded as the zenith of their career. A Night at the Loch attracted 50,000 people to the shores of Loch Lomond, ostensibly to celebrate the release of Runrig's most successful album The Big Wheel.

Like some of the other large-scale gigs in our Top 20, this gathering of the clans was more significant as a communal experience than for its musical worth - though, of the extensive support line-up, including Hothouse Flowers, The Big Dish and Capercaillie went on to wield international influence as ambassadors of Celtic music.

As well as paving the way for subsequent lochside shebangs from REM and Oasis, this mini-festival provided an abiding collective memory, not least of 50,000 voices singing along to Runrig's version of Loch Lomond.


The Rest of the Top 20

5. White Riot Tour, Playhouse, Edinburgh, 7 May 1977

6. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Glasgow Apollo, 18, 19 and 20 December 1975

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7. Edinburgh People's Festival Ceilidh, Oddfellows Hall, 31 August 1951

8. Prince, Garage, Glasgow, 15 March 1995

9. Grangemouth Rock Festival, Grangemouth Stadium, 29 September 1972

10. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Pink Floyd, The Nice, The Move, Amen Corner, Eire Apparent and the Outer Limits, Green's Playhouse, Glasgow, 5 December 1967

11. The Big Day, Glasgow, 3 June 1990

12. Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, Glasgow Empire, May 1957

13. Duke Ellington, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 27 November 1973

14. Blur, Pulp and Manic Street Preachers, T in the Park, Strathclyde Country Park, 30 July 1994

15. Nirvana, Southern Bar, Edinburgh, 1 December 1991

16. Son House, Leith Town Hall, July 1970

17. Belle & Sebastian, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, 12 June 2004

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18. The Unusual Suspects, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 26 January 2003

19. Miles Davis, Green's Playhouse, Glasgow, 18 November 1973

20. Pete Doherty, Burns an' a' That festival, Ayr Town Hall, 28 May 2005


Whatever you think of our choices, we'd love to hear your views, either by post or at where the list - and the reasons for each choice - are now available to view at your leisure.

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