Cheers to 10 years of Oran Mor

IT'S hosted gigs by Scottish rock royalty and introduced Glasgow to the delights of A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

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The Vaselines, will play at the anniversary concert and main picture, Fred McAulay and Dave Anderson celebrate the Play A Pie and a Pint seasons
The Vaselines, will play at the anniversary concert and main picture, Fred McAulay and Dave Anderson celebrate the Play A Pie and a Pint seasons

Now Oran Mor is to celebrate its 10th anniversary this month with a run of special shows.

Formerly Kelvinside Parish Church, the West End venue opened its doors in June 2004 and is now firmly established as a key part of the city's cultural scene.

"We're a wee bit away from the city centre but we've created a niche in how we do music and theatre," says Creon Brock, the venue's music and theatre programmer who's worked at Oran Mor for eight years.

The inspiration for converting the church, which had been derelict for four years, into an arts venue came from Colin Beattie, pictured. who spear-headed the group that took over the venue and began refurbishing it in 2002.

The intention was to capture the spirit of Glasgow's long-running, hugely popular Mayfest festival.

"When Colin opened the place, he'd worked with Glasgow music promoter Billy Kelly in the late 80s and early 90s at Mayfest and I know the idea when opening Oran Mor was to try and have Mayfest all year round," says Creon.

"The ethos of the venue has carried on from there - it's a place for all the different arts and you can come along if it's music, theatre, live artwork. It's something for everyone."

To make the venue's 10th birthday, there's a varied selection of gigs programmed - Scottish stalwarts like Edwyn Collins and Eddi Reader will be performing, rockers the View play stripped-back acoustic gigs and the month will end with the third annual "all-dayer" event for the West End Festival.

Taking place across Oran Mor's three stages, the several hour-long bill will mix up Scottish talent old and new, headlined by the Vaselines.

While the former church can regularly pull in a congregation of gig-goers though, it's the decade old A Play, A Pie and A Pint that has been it's most popular contribution to Scottish culture.

Thirty-eight new plays are now commissioned for it every year, with top acting talent often lured to appear in the shows.

"It brings in a more casual theatre goer, maybe someone who isn't sure about a night out at the theatre but the thought of coming into a pub, having a pint and watching a play appeals," says Creon.

"It's attracted the more casual theatre goer but all your more dedicated theatre goers love it too, and it's amazing when you get the likes of Robbie Coltrane or David Hayman or Elaine C Smith in to do it."

The downstairs section of Oran Mor has played host to many top bands over the past decade, too, from punk legend Patti Smith to Travis singer Fran Healy, who launched his solo record there.

It's one of British music's most famous modern voices that stands out most to Creon, though.

"One that everyone remembers was Amy Winehouse as she was coming through - that was a big one to get, as she was really on the way up," he says.

"Bright Eyes was another one, because he plays so rarely."

Another gig provided more of a headache, though.

"When Reverend & The Makers were playing, their singer Jon McClure picked up an acoustic guitar and told the crowd to meet him over at the Botanic Gardens and headed out the back door," recalls Creon.

"As the person in charge of the venue this isn't the greatest of scenarios...

"However I thought as long as everyone gets over to the Botanics then it is far enough away from the venue to not be much trouble.

"Unfortunately some of the crowd were pretty quick out the front door and got him before he could cross Great Western Road and he ended up sitting on the fence singing to the crowd.

"This would have been fine had it not been right next to the entrance to the Auditorium that was being used for a wedding that night so there ended up 500 people singing along with Jon McClure outside the wedding reception."

And the fact the venue bar stays open till the wee hours always tempts a few acts to stay around for a bit, not to mention their famous other halves…

"When the Kills played here we had Kate Moss in drinking afterwards, which caused a bit of a stir," adds Creon.

"You could see all these people trying to work out if it was her…"

n Oran Mor's 10th anniversary programme runs throughout June.

Arts and Entertainment

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