FIRE- a four letter word to send fear through people. It’s fierce. It’s strong willed. It’s unpredictable. It’s unforgiving.
While I am saddened to see Glasgow’s School of Art a smouldering ruin for the second time in four years, I’m heartbroken to see the devastation caused to my favourite music venue, the O2 ABC.
Politicians and historical societies plus the insurance companies will not doubt in time restore Glasgow’s School of Art even if it has to be done brick by brick at an astronomical cost but at the time of writing, as the fires still smoulder, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for the innocent party in this, the O2 ABC.
The O2 ABC building is deserving of its own place in Glasgow’s architectural and social heritage.
Built in 1875, the ABC has been renovated many times and was largely rebuilt once before back it the 1920’s. It was originally built as a diorama then renamed as the Panorama three years later. In 1885, it was transformed for the first time and re-opened its doors as Hubner’s Ice Skating Palace. Three years later, in 1888, it became one of the first buildings in the city to have electricity.
The building went through another transformation, was renamed The Hippodrome and became home to Hengler’s Circus. When the circus wasn’t performing, the building was once again used to show films to the people of Glasgow.
In 1927, the building underwent another change of identity when it re-opened as a dance hall, the Waldorf Palais. At this time, it also boasted a ground floor car park. A sign of the affluence in the city.
A mere two years later, the building was renovated yet again, retaining the majority of its original architectural features including its roof structure, and re-opened as a cinema. It remained a cinema, going through several modernisations and an expansion, right through the 20th Century before showing it’s final film on 12 October 1999.
Three years later, the conversion to the music venue I know and love began.
Oh…. and don’t forget. The O2 ABC is/was home to one of Europe’s largest glitter balls.
As the damage is assessed, my heart bleeds for all the small businesses in the Sauchiehall Street area that, as innocent bystanders, will suffer the fallout from this weekend’s tragic events and for those who may lose their jobs as a result of this fire.
One thing to be eternally thankful for is that there was no loss of life in this inferno. If that fire had struck the ABC during a sell-out show the potential for tragedy doesn’t bear thinking about.
Those that follow my sister blog https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/ will know my love of the O2 ABC. Like countless music fans, I’ve so many memories that I hold dear that relate to that place. So many nights of great music. A place to meet new friends. A place to take old friends to. I even took The Big Green Gummi Bear there! I’ve met so many wonderful musicians in there too, both in the main room and in the smaller, more intimate O2 ABC2 downstairs.
I’ve seen “big” acts and smaller “up and coming” acts. I’ve seen some awesome bands headline and play support slots. I’ve seen some dubious supporting acts too!
I’ve queued outside in the freezing cold. I’ve queued outside in the pouring rain. I last queued outside on a beautiful, sunny, warm summer’s evening.
I took my Baby Girl to her first ever concert in the O2 ABC.
I bought my Baby Boy the first legal drink I’d ever bought him (Ok, it’s actually the only drink I’ve bought him to date and it was over two years after he turned 18 LOL)
My last visit to the O2 ABC as we know and remember it was on the 6th of this month when I saw Volbeat headline. It was one of the best nights I’ve enjoyed in the ABC. I think it was during a song called “Seal The Deal” that they turned on the glitter ball and, with the white lighting from the stage, the whole room was sparkling as the fans partied. A beautiful sight that will be my lasting memory of the place…..until they rebuild (I hope!)
RIP Glitter Ball 😥
These articles show the history of the building in more detail :
And a few photo memories….
(image of fire damaged ABC and old images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)