At the Apollo: A Postcard From Roddy Frame

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Certain gigs in Glasgow have a buzz that’s all their own. Such is always the case when Roddy Frame returns, as he does this week, taking to the bandstand in Kelvingrove Park on Friday August 7th as part of the Magners Summer Nights Festival.

Although he decamped many years ago, Frame will always be linked to the town: partly, because he gave the city an unofficial anthem in the yearning bus-station epic “Killermont Street”; but mostly due to his years as Postcard Records’ prodigious post-punk boy wonder. Signing with Alan Horne’s fabled DIY label aged 16, Frame’s Aztec Camera put the young into The Sound Of Young Scotland, yet shared with labelmate Edwyn Collins’s Orange Juice a preternatural knack for writing songs that seemed simultaneously to reference every record he’d ever loved – in Frame’s case, from Wes Montgomery to Motown via Bowie, The Clash and Joy Division – while sounding unique.

From wiry, charging acoustic jangle to gorgeous plastic soul, a restless, mercurial spirit has remained constant across his ever-changing career. It’s still there underpinning the deceptively stripped-down songwriting of his most recent album, 2014’s Seven Dials, which, recorded for Collins’s AED label, represented a kind of spiritual homecoming. (And, dare we suggest, ranks alongside its predecessor, 2006’s Western Skies, as the best thing he’s ever done. So far.)

Come Friday, we’ll be the ones shouting for “Spanish Horses,” “Portastudio” and “Mattress Of Wire,” and telling you Roddy Frame is the greatest guitar player in the world. Prior to the gig, though, we’re beyond delighted to have a few words from the man himself. We asked him to cast his mind back to his own early gig-going memories in Glasgow, and a favourite venue. Over to Mr Frame:

THE GLASGOW APOLLO
by Roddy Frame

The Apollo was where I learned what a gig was.

In the Seventies, my (much) older sisters took me there to see the likes of Eric Clapton, The Ozarks and Don McLean, all great players who made me want to rush home and practice guitar. Then Dr Feelgood and Eddie and The Hot Rods came to town as Canvey’s harbingers of punk and I suddenly had my own scene.

Now 13, I duly queued for my own tickets to see the likes of The Clash with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and Suicide in tow. Close enough to see the blood on Alan Vega’s face as debris rained down. And all for £2.50.

Upstairs in the smaller Satellite City club, I saw one of Magazine’s first gigs and got to witness John McGeoch invent post-punk guitar playing right there before my eyes.

By the time Joy Division came to town, opening for the Buzzcocks, I was already a huge fan and had my own band waiting (metaphorically) in the wings.

Sadly, by the time my turn had come, the Apollo had closed its doors.

The stage was too high, the bouncers could be a little “firm” and on a good night the balcony looked like it might collapse, but there was magic in the fabric of its walls, and the Glasgow Apollo will always be the home of my most formative music memories.

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Keep up to date with Roddy Frame via roddyframe.com and twitter @RoddyFrame