The Kelvin Hall for those of you lacking in intimate knowledge of Bonnie Glasgow is a magnificent victorian ediface, redolent of the power of Empire. It sits in the blithe west end of the second city, opposite that other treasure of municipal grandeur “The Art Galleries” – know. Until fairly recently the Kelvin Hall served as some sort of sports hall and specialised in the sweaty exertions of runners, jumpers, wrasslers and so forth. In its glorious heyday however it was home to the circus, the shows and the Modern Homes Exhibition.
It was absolutely massive, a huge cavernous hall, probably the biggest in Glesga at the time. So, you are no doubt thinking, how come the Charlies, a group musically beyond compare yet hardly renowned for having a great slew of fans ready to cram the largest venue, were booked into this place? A huge and unexpected upturn in their fortunes? A visionary promoter of the “build it and they will come” school? Alas no, this was another of the gigs that Stevie and I wangled out of our time at the Drumchapel non/make work Youth Enquiry joke project. It also served as a conference venue of sorts and that was the scenario that greeted us as we rolled up on this particular afternoon.
The event in question was some sort of “Youth” related jamboree with the typical mob of worthy do-gooders, right-on tits and lazy chancers in attendance. Just our sort of crowd. We were directed to an area right in the centre of this massive hall and told to set up. Now, this place was truly enormous, mind bogglinly spaceous. There was no sort of stage, not even an area marked of for “performance”, just a vast flat expanse of black concrete floor smelling not so faintly of elephants. Well, ho hum, thought we and set up the gear facing north, or towards the entrance if you prefer. I can’t remember if anyone announced us or if there were any other bands there, I’ve got some kind of a programme from this bumfight somewhere but I’m far too apathetic to try and find it. Anyhow, next thing you know we’re playing.
I suspect we started with “20 Flight Rock” as we were wont to in those dim and distant days. All was going as well as could be expected, a few of the passing herd occasionally glanced our way, when LO! Something approaches with a crabbit look on its face and has a word with someone else offstage, or eastwards. Turns out there is some sort of Seminar going on and this crabbit looking bint is speaking at it, or at least she was before we drowned her out. Probably lecturing the tragically unemployable about why they should stop biting their toenails or something of that nature. The upshot however being we’re telt to turn it down.
This comes as a bit of a shock as our puny amps seem to be making little impression on the swirling ether inside this mighty pleasure dome. All that can be heard is the crash of the odd cymbal and an horrific amount of reverb, it sounds like we are playing the songs in the lee of an alpine ridge. So we turn it down a bit, whispering our way through “Make like a somebody pishin”. Next thing this galumphing bag is sighted to the southwest with an even more crabbit puss. We’re telt to turn it down again! Well, this clearly rankles in the proud breasties of The Charlies.
We REACT, the magnificent bass string riff of “Barking up the Wrong Tree” rends the air at as powerful a volume as we can manage. Never has the chorus “Your barking up the wrong tree – WOOF WOOF” been sung with such gusto as at the retreating back of the moaning faced behemoth. My memory is hazy, youth has fled don’t you know, but I seem to recall we got a fairish clap from the assembled few as we ground to a halt and then sloped off. There is a great photo of King Lordo and I from this gig, black and white and very atmospheric, a lot better than the gig in fact. I must try and find it, I’ve got a glossy. It was published in some youth encouragement focused bog sheet or other at the time.
An extremely amusing incident happened on the way home from this festival of music. We took the bus home, clambering on a corporation double decker just by the sewage treatment plant of old Pertyck. It was still early so the bus was full of your normal public transport users. We made for the upper deck and sat down full of the joys of spring and general rock n’ rawl joie de vivre. A certain Charlie, famed at the time for carrying double wrapped poly bags on any outing, sat behind two young girls. Seconds later he’s frantically rummaging through the afore mentioned poly bag and searching his multiple pockets, pooches and folds for all he is worth…HE HAS LOST HIS TRANSCARD!! This is a serious crisis, the travel pass in question representing a substantial, nay major, portion of the available assets of our poverty stricken hero.
After several incredibly tense and dramatic minutes during which the fervid atmosphere of the top deck was befouled by intense swearing and began to stink of incipient violence..HE FOUND THE BUGGER! He’s kissing it and licking it and slobbering over it like a demented rapist. The two young girls in the seat in front are sitting ashen faced and bolt upright, “Fly!Fly!” their internal voices are clearly screaming. How we laughed. From scenes such as these Scotia’s grandeur springs.
The Band that afternoon were:
R.Ruthven guitar and vocals