Edinburgh's live music scene is miles better

Debbie Harry of Blondie
Debbie Harry of Blondie
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GLASGOW may have its very own arena, The Hydro, but take that away and Edinburgh’s live music scene is the envy of the west, insists the city’s most experienced concert promoter, Mark Mackie, director of Regular Music.

“Had the council built an arena in Leith 30 years ago we’d be reaping the benefits now. Had they done it 20 years ago, we’d be reaping the benefits now. I’m afraid they just talked and talked and did nothing when Edinburgh could have done with a proper venue,” he says.

“Glasgow has a decent enough number of venues but the population of Greater Glasgow is double that of Edinburgh and Lothians and the 12,500 capacity Hydro is now competing with Manchester and London O2s, each with a capacity of approximately 18,000.

“So, some of the big American superstars just come over and do London, Manchester, Glasgow and, actually, Dublin now. It’s easier that way. They’re ignoring Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool, all of which have arenas that are now seen as secondary.

"Edinburgh has missed the boat. We are not going to get an A-list arena, but you don’t need the big names to have a thriving music scene and if you take The Hydro out of Glasgow, basically Edinburgh has better venues.

“Glasgow would just love to have a venue like the Playhouse, one of my favourite venues in the world.

“Glasgow would also love to have a venue of the quality and 700 capacity of the Queen’s Hall. Again, it doesn’t. It’s another example of a fantastic facility we have in Edinburgh that we don’t shout about enough.”

Tomorrow: Mark Mackie on why Edinburgh's live music scene is alive and kicking, or read it in today's Evening News