Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019

Journal, Music

Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019

Carol had got me tickets to see The Cure and the Foo Fighters for my Xmas present. I had never been able to experience the Foo Fighters live before so although it was a good seven months away, I couldn’t wait to see them.

Getting to see The Cure was a bonus because I didn’t know much about them at all. The ticket had come as part of the only package Carol was able to get for the Summer Sessions. Live music is live music though, and they are one of the biggest bands from the last 40 years!

An open-air event at any time during a Scottish summer is a gamble but with it being in August I thought we might get lucky. For TRNSMT, in July, we were especially so. However, in the lead up to the Summer Sessions, the rain was relentless and about a month’s worth fell in the week running up to the weekend. Bellahouston Park didn’t stand a chance of hosting thousands of people without it being a mud bath!

Friday I’m in love

On Friday night, for The Cure, I just went with outdoor walking shoes and they turned out to be suitable enough if I avoided the deeper patches of mud near the high-footfall areas. I thought was an amusing coincidence that on the week of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, people were still flocking to outdoor music festivals in questionable conditions!

It had taken so long to get on the old-fashioned shuttle bus to the park that we’d missed all but the tail end of the final support act. I was even less familiar with them than I was with The Cure, so that didn’t bother me and I was glad we were there in good time for the main act.

I heard it said that they hadn’t played in Glasgow for 27 years, which seemed an incredibly long hiatus. Had Robert Smith not enjoyed himself the last time, I wondered?

Rob Carol waiting for The Cure at Glasgow Summer Sessions in Bellahouston Park
Rob Carol waiting for The Cure at Glasgow Summer Sessions in Bellahouston Park

If so, he was probably caught out by the weather. Whilst we stood taking in the atmosphere we could see sheets of rain approaching fast from the south. Carol was already well dressed for the elements and put her Mickey Mouse poncho on as well. I had on my new waterproof jacket and it did the trick during the short showers that came.

As we waited for The Cure to come on we decided on watching from the far right of the stage as it was close to the porta-loos and also give us a quick exit when the time came to leave.

With Carol being small we had to move a couple of times when oblivious tall people took up a position in front of her. Just when we thought we had found the ideal spot, a very tall man and his companion wandered by from our left and stood right in our line of sight.

I was about to berate the giant in question when I realised I recognised the tall frame as belonging to my good friend, Paul! I grabbed him by the arm in mock annoyance to surprise him and, luckily, I’d identified him correctly!

Paul was with his girlfriend, Kasia, and meeting them really made the evening. It was such a great atmosphere as The Cure made their way through their extensive back-catalogue that it was ideal to be sharing it with good friends.

The stage at Glasgow Summer Sessions whilst The Cure played on Friday evening
The stage at Glasgow Summer Sessions whilst The Cure played on Friday evening

By the time the evening came to a close, I had been disarmed at how humble Robert Smith appeared to be and also pleasantly surprised at how many songs I actually knew. The whole experience felt like an unexpected treat that I’ll long look back on with a smile.

We had braced ourselves for the hassle of taking the shuttle bus back into Glasgow with thousands of other muddy, inebriated people. However, Paul suggested we shared an Uber back to his place instead. There we could have a couple of drinks before catching the last train home from the station near his house, Scotstounhill.

It was a great plan up until we realised the last train didn’t stop at Scotstounhill and we ended up having to get an Uber home at a really late hour.

Times like these

Waking bleary-eyed on Saturday we were in no rush to get going and both of us went back to bad for some extra sleep to prepare ourselves for another evening of live music.

My shoes from the night before were caked in mud so I knew I had to get some wellies for my return to Bellahouston Park. We made a quick pit stop at Sports Direct in Dumbarton where I found a pair of Kangol branded wellies for around £20. They were a little bit big but would do the job so I bought some thick socks to go with them.

We made the next train to Glasgow and once there we went for a Chinese buffet to fill ourselves up. I might have had a bit too much of that but I was determined not to fall hungry again and pay over the odds for food on-site.

Up at the bus station, it was a similar story to the night before; long queues being loosely directed by disorganised staff. Fortunately, it was only about a 25-minute wait before we were on board a bus that looked like it came from the 70s, at best.

Cold day in the sun

Once we were at Bellahouston Park and through the bag check, I began to realise that I’d made a tactical error when it came to clothing. The air was a lot cooler than the balmy summer evening we’d enjoyed the night before and a bit too chilly to be in shorts & a tee-shirt.

If it had stayed dry I might have gotten away with it, but within an hour of us arriving there was a really heavy cloudburst. I pulled on the light windbreaker I had in my bag but it isn’t especially waterproof and I was swiftly soaked through that and my tee-shirt.

Carol was again well dressed for the elements so while she stood there shrugging it off I could feel myself getting wetter and colder. Fortunately, I’d at least had the sense to bring a base layer with me so when the rain stopped I slipped into that and put the windbreaker back on top.

I’d lost a lot of body heat through and, as the topless lead singer/drummer of Slaves pounded away at his kit on-stage, I shivered and looked wistfully at the merchandise stand. I doubted there’d be anything I wanted enough to justify spending big on it but we wandered over anyway.

After waiting in a deep queue for a good twenty minutes we bought two Foo Fighters branded ponchos for a fiver apiece. They didn’t seem especially good value for money but when the next brief shower came, Carol helped me into one of them and it did the trick.

Long road to ruin

We went to get more beer at this point and the line was ridiculously long. They had the same zig-zag setup for the bars as TRNSMT but there were so many people that the line was a good 60 metres from the entrance to that.

Conditions underfoot were now horrendous and I was so glad I’d bought my wellies on the way. Despite the organisers putting down hay and more plastic mats in preparation, the damage had already been done and there were mud-splattered people all around and some who had clearly taken a fall. Curiously, there were also loads of people in, now ruined, white trainers, which I didn’t understand at all!

After buying four beers we made our way back across the area to the porta-loos for a comfort break before the Foo’s came on. On the way, we bumped into our friends John & Tracy who had been in the VIP area and told us the queue to get drinks was pretty long in there too.

The crowd was so dense compared to the night before that it was unlikely we’d see them again even if we tried to, so we bid them well and went on our way.

This is a call

We had barely got to the porta-loo area when the first power-chords rang out for the main stage. The moment had arrived and after quickly using the facilities we made our way into the side of the crowd at about the same area we’d been at for The Cure, but perhaps a little further to the left.

I have to say it was pretty sweet to see Dave Grohl live on stage with the rest of the band. Over the years I’ve missed the chance to see them a couple of times so, even standing in a muddy field in Glasgow, it felt great to finally hear them play.

The Foo Fighters at Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019
The Foo Fighters at Glasgow Summer Sessions 2019

The energy of the performance was rejuvenating, really, and as they tore into hit after hit I didn’t really feel the cold. The rain held off for the rest of the evening too.

Highlights of the set included an extended, sing-a-long version of Learn to Fly, which is one of my favourite songs by anyone, Monkey Wrench and All My Life .

The bits between the songs were pretty good too, with the keyboard player stealing the show during the obligatory band roll call by playing Flower of Scotland. That had the whole crowd singing our national anthem in response and it was a great moment.

Resolve

Shortly after 10 pm, fatigue was setting in a bit and, with our beers long since finished, we slipped out of the throng and visited a concession stand to get some hot chocolate.

Slipping back into the crowd glad of the warmth that brought, Dave Grohl asked how many songs we had left in us. The crowd clearly had an appetite for plenty more. Glancing at my watch I had to concede that we would be unable to stay for the duration.

After enjoying a final couple of songs we began to fade towards the exit. I reckon we missed one of my favourites – No Way Back From Here, but staying for that would have been prophetic as we would be unlikely to make the last train if we stayed much longer and got caught in the rush.

Once again we boarded a retro shuttle bus back to Glasgow, where the driver didn’t really know where he was supposed to drop us. He ended up in a bit of a tense stand-off with a bunch of folks who preferred not to go to the bus station, but that was where we ended up anyway.

That was ideal for us and we made the second-last train of the night. On the journey home, I felt a twinge of sadness that an event that had been so far off on the horizon since I knew I was going had come to an end.

Ultimately though, I felt happy that I’d finally got to experience my favourite band live. What a great Xmas present!