This Saturday (6th October) sees an afternoon of music, dance and drama to launch the new (or at least newly revamped) Queen’s Park Arena. The arena is what was the terraced area at the old Queen’s Park bandstand, which burned down in 1996 after slipping into disrepair over the previous years. If you’re familiar with the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, you’ll have a rough idea of the layout: an amphitheatre built into a slope with a stage at one end.
The idea is that “the regenerated space will provide opportunities to stage all the traditional things the bandstand used to host; performances, entertainment, musical events, rallies, and more. We’re seeing informal uses like exercise classes, small get-togethers of parents and children as well as the big organised events”.
Saturday’s show, which begins at noon and runs until 6.30pm, includes a variety of performances by local artists and community groups. The nearest to any jazz is a performance by vocal harmony trio Miss Jo, who promise us “acapella jazz and pop”. They’re on at 12.30. There’s also some traditional Irish folk, bluegrass, African mbira music, gypsy music, rock and pop, and a drama celebrating 150 years of Queen’s Park. In addition, specially for David Cameron, there’s a performance of Indian dance. I wonder if he’s got any empirical evidence that Indian dance is less physically beneficial for people than, say, highland dancing or morris dancing, or if he was just demonstrating that, no matter how tolerant and inclusive they try to appear, the Tories automatically default to being The Nasty Party?
This is the second new performance space to be launched on the Southside in the space of a couple of months. I was at the nearby Glad Café a few weeks back to hear Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, and I thought it was a lovely wee venue. There’s a café-bar there which is open all day, with the performance space in a separate room off that. It has a raised stage in one corner, a bar and a mixing desk. On the night it was set up to hold about 50 people in cabaret-style seating, with a couple of dozen more standing behind them, although you could get more folk in if the seating was arranged differently or it was a standing gig. There was also a proper grand piano sitting out in the café, something a lot of Glasgow venues lack. Presumably it can be rolled into the concert room when required.
If you go along to Saturday’s Queen’s Park Arena launch early enough, you’ll be able to buy your lunch, or get your messages, at Queen’s Park Farmers Market which runs until 2pm.
The renovation of the Arena looks like a great idea, even though it is going to struggle with the same problem as any other outdoor venue in Scotland. It’s outdoors. In Scotland. Still, the Victoria Infirmary is just at the other end of the park, so help is at hand for any hypothermia victims.