Why Taylor Swift shows Murrayfield and Edinburgh can leapfrog Glasgow to host country's biggest music gigs

Murrayfield hosted record-breaking run of Taylor Swift concerts

Given that Edinburgh is no stranger to major events, it says a lot for Taylor Swift and the army of fans who descended on Murrayfield they made such a huge impression on the city.

The make-up of the audiences who transformed the city’s streets for three days and nights was certainly a far cry from the crowds who previously headed there to see Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. But the impact of Swift's shows was simply on a scale not previously seen in the city.

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Robbie Williams and Harry Styles are the only previous acts to stage more than one night at Murrayfield, which has normally only hosted one show each year since its first shows in the 1980s.

Nearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa FergusonNearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Nearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

It was only last year that Scottish Rugby seriously upped its game by securing those two Styles shows, along with Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce gigs.

Styles set a new 65,000 attendance record for Scotland’s biggest ever stadium concert. But Swift has claimed that crown after Murrayfield's concert capacity was increased by the city council.

Her three shows were undoubtedly a major challenge for the council, Scottish Rugby and all the authorities involved in staging them. That was not all down to those record-breaking numbers.

Around 80 per cent of ticket-holders were between 15 and 25, with many keen to head to Murrayfield hours before the shows started. All the indications are the events were trouble-free and the huge logistical operation around them passed off without problems.

Nearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa FergusonNearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Nearly 220,000 fans saw Taylor Swift perform at her three concerts at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The focus in the city almost immediately shifts to other big events like the Royal Highland Show later this month, which is expected to attract a similar attendance as the Swift concerts, a record-breaking run of six concerts at Edinburgh Castle in July and the main summer festivals period in August, which should attract an audience of more than four million.

But it is worth pondering where Swift’s visit has left Edinburgh’s standing as a live music city.

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For too long, its music fans have cast envious glances towards Glasgow, where outdoor events at Hampden and Glasgow Green have complemented the line-up at the Hydro arena.

Murrayfield's record-breaking run of 73,000-capacity shows gives it an even bigger edge over 50,000-capacity Hampden, but also allows it to compete much better with venues elsewhere in the UK.

The rugby stadium's own tram stop, on a line now providing access to and from the city's waterfront, and its close proximity to Haymarket train station, where extra trains ran until the crowds were cleared, seems certain to help attract more big-name events.

With long-awaited plans for an indoor arena in Edinburgh finally set to be backed, the city would appear to be a serious challenger to Glasgow’s "musical city" credentials at last.

That makes it all the more frustrating there will be a complete absence of live music in Princes Street Gardens this summer due to controversial council restrictions on events and its run-down bandstand. Leith Theatre is out of action while plans for a revamp are progressed, while there are doubts over the future of Summerhall after the venue was put up for sale.

But if Edinburgh can resolve these problems, open the new arena and a promised city centre concert hall, and secure more blockbuster runs of concerts at Murrayfield and Edinburgh Castle, a truly game-changing era could be within reach.

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