I feel fortunate to have one of the rare, original, decorative stars that previously hung from the ceiling of the
world famous Barrowland ballroom in Glasgow. Now framed, it hangs on the wall of my study at home.
Straight out of the 1950s, it is made out of bakelite in my opinion, and coloured a greenish, yellow, space-age hue.
Both Charlie Burchill and I have one each, generously gifted to us by a family friend,
however we are not the only ones to have treasured them. Or "trousered them"... as the case may be?
For legend has it that "During David Bowie's visit on July 22nd 1997 when, as he walked across the stage,
a small star – custom made and something of a Ballroom signature – fell from the ceiling and landed at his feet.
Bowie is believed to have picked it up and slipped it into a trouser pocket, although debate rages as to
whether the star fell or was simply taken – a common practice among performing artists. Regardless, legend has it that he took
the acquired star back to France – where it took pride of place in his then Paris home."
I like that legend. However there are countless legends about Barrowlands, some of which may have made me want to pay
tribute to that temple of live music, where for more than half a century people have gone to dance and sing, forget the
world and leave their troubles behind etc. And that I have done with the lyrics Barrowland Star - track 6 on the forthcoming
Simple Minds album Walk Between Worlds.
It is said that more than 2,000 headline acts have taken to the stage at Barrowlands, and no doubt each will have contributed
to the history of one of the world's genuine "rock n roll temples. "But perhaps more than any other, the Barrowland is possibly
synonymous - or most closely associated - with Simple Minds. After all, it was ourselves and our amazing local
fans, given the chance to bring it back from the dead. As The Times reported recently:
"The venue and the building that houses it may well have continued a terminal decline that originally began in the 1970s were it not
for Scottish band Simple Minds and their decision to shoot their music video for
1983 single Waterfront in
the main hall. Filmed as a straightforward concert performance with hundreds of fans brought in to replicate the energy of a live show, it would
mark a change in fortunes for the Ballroom after several years of decline brought about by the rise of disco and consequent lack
of demand for live music.
Its unique atmosphere encouraged the band to play a full set after wrapping the video and would prompt them to organise further
shows at the venue – a move that breathed new life into the main hall and lead to its reinvention as a premiere destination
for touring artists."
14th December 2017