2018 is the 50th anniversary of the QMU at 22 University Gardens – QMU50 is a project that brings together stories about music spanning half a century. Keep an eye out for snippets of stories over the next week – don’t forge to share your own personal highlights here!
October 7th, 1987. Glasgow Uni.
My Aunty Andrina deposits me on University Avenue and drives off, leaving me to navigate a big city university on my lonesome. I’m just off the boat from Ireland; a small-town boy trying to find his way through a mobbed and strange thing called Freshers’ Week. As I wander aimlessly around the campus looking for new pals, everyone seems to know each other and I’m too shy to introduce myself. I’m pretty miserable and slightly scared. Later that evening, I pop down to see a band at the QMU – Runrig. I’m not impressed by the music at all (understatement); but I have a great time chatting to people and hanging out. I feel that I’ve found a place where I can be myself and meet other people who share similar music tastes (not Runrig).
Fast forward two years and I’m in the middle of it all. I’m the elected QMU Entertainments Convenor, tasked with booking the bands. It’s an amazing experience and what might be called a ‘steep-learning curve’. In other words, I’m totally out of my depth. I quickly learn the ropes about contracts, tech specs and everything that needs to be done to keep the musical wheels of the QM turning; but I also learn that tour managers and their road crew can be a misanthropic, bad-tempered, miserable bunch of bastards who view student entertainment officers with barely-concealed contempt. Over the course of my year in charge I book The Fall, The Creatures (Siouxsie and Budgie), Bad Brains, Birdland, Michael Monroe, Nitzer Ebb, Jesus Jones, The Sundays, and Nitzer Ebb. It’s an exhilarating experience, but there is also a downside: various tour-managers threaten me with violence, legal action and gig cancellations.
Somehow I survived it all and now when I look back I think I loved every minute of it, but I’m not sure. The biggest act I booked was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The gig was brilliant but the tour-manager was a right unmentionable. There’s a particularly funny story about the band’s rider (it included Celtic and Rangers baseball caps and my frantic search to secure them), but the details we’re saving for the performance on November 30th. My favourite memory of that show, though, is one that captures the spirit of the QMU crowd. At one point lead singer Anthony Kiedis loudly proclaims that he wanted to f*** a Scottish girl. There’s a brief silence and then someone in the audience shouts back “get yourself to f***, ya fanny”. A perfect Glaswegian response.
Ronan is a former QMU Entertainments Convener who is now lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art. On November 30th he’ll be playing keyboards and trombone as part of ‘Glasgow Glam Rock Dialogues: QMU50’ – a night of images and songs which celebrate half a century of live music as 22 University Gardens.