Martin Donaldson with A Celtic State of Mind – My first gig at the Barras: Oasis 1994

On 7 December 1994, I made my first visit to the famous Glasgow Barrowlands. Having grown up with older siblings who had shared stories of U2, Simple Minds and The Pogues at the famous venue, I was finally getting the chance to savour the experience for myself.

Earlier in the year, I had missed out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Nirvana rock my hometown due to Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I kept the ticket and it’s safely tucked away in a book somewhere in the attic. I made a trip to the first T in the Park at Strathclyde Park to see Rage Against The Machine take the stage with Cypress Hill in what was a great way to sign off my last year at high school. Now, I was on my way to Barrowland Ballroom.

Walking along the Gallowgate on a cold December night, there is nothing quite like the sight of the neon lights guiding you to your destination. Throngs of fans, walking the route each with their own expectations of what might be in store.

At first glance on entering the doors, the venue was nothing exciting, some dated décor, couches and posters of upcoming gigs. Climbing the stairs and turning into the main hall, I couldn’t help but think how small the place was. I walked in, took my place in the very centre of the hall, and stood with my friend waiting on the gig to start.

Listen to KEVIN MILES with A Celtic State of Mind here:

The Oasis fans streamed through the doors and, before you knew it, the hall was packed and ready for a show. The lights dimmed, the crowd roared and the band hit straight into Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. No sooner had the band started, when I realised I was no longer in the middle, but somewhere near the front, with my body being pulled in the surge towards the stage. If this was the start, I couldn’t wait for whatever was coming next.

Oasis kept the crowd going into the second and third songs when all of a sudden Liam crackled and promptly walked off stage followed by the rest of the band. The huge crowd were getting anxious and restless, giving Liam abuse for his disappearing act. After a few minutes, Noel walked back on stage himself armed only with his guitar, he dusted himself down and launched into several tracks giving us an insight into what many thought was the driving force in the band.

An evening with Noel Gallagher then made way for a short session with the rest of Oasis (minus Liam Gallagher) to close the gig. As a final gesture, the band confirmed they would make it up to the fans by playing a gig for free at the same venue later that month.

Leaving the gig, I couldn’t help think that as great as Oasis were, Noel showed that he could lead the way and deliver a top performance, but I was still disappointed not to see the full band perform.

Around three weeks later, in between Christmas and New Year, Oasis were true to their word as they arrived back at the Barrowlands to play their set. This time, I didn’t make the mistake of going too near the front and stayed near the back, my friend and I got the gig early and watched the crowds come in.

During the short three-week break between gigs, Oasis had managed to become the biggest band on the scene and, with the release of the Whatever single, they had welcomed more fans onboard.

On the 27 December, the atmosphere at the Barrowlands was electric before our heroes took the stage. Standing at the back of the hall, I watched and listened to a band that had conquered all in front of them since the spring of 1994. Liam led the line with his trademark swagger and the rest of the band followed him. “Look at you now, you’re all in my hands” never seemed so appropriate.

The rock ‘n’ roll stars had arrived and were in no mood to look back. Now I could see what had made the Barrowlands one of the leading venues in the land. The mutual energy between the band and the fans, the closeness of the stage and the acoustics lifted everyone to new levels.

Moving seamlessly from one crashing anthem to the next from their Definitely Maybe album, they even slowed the tempo down, giving lovers the chance to get close during Slide Away. The show came and went in a flash and left nobody in the 2000+ crowd disappointed.

1994 was a musical rollercoaster for me, but in the last few weeks of the year, not only did I get to experience the legendary Barrowland Ballroom, but I watched the transition of the new band on the block become the UK’s new rock ‘n’ roll stars, free to do whatever they want.

Martin Donaldson

Watch Sophie Millar’s stunning rendition of ‘Come Back Paddy Reilly’:

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