Sunday, September 02, 2012
THE BIG DAY : SUNDAY 3 JUNE 1990
This was one recollection as written in a national newspaper a few years later:-
Just how big a day it was became apparent immediately on arrival at a jam-packed Waverley Station in Edinburgh that morning. Even with extra trains laid on for the event, standing room was still at a premium.
We set off west towards the European City of Culture, to join a crowd that would total between 250,000 and half a million - adding up to the then-biggest ever musical event in Scotland, the UK or Europe, depending on your sources.
As inroads began on a brewery's worth of carry-outs, these unanimous high spirits were abetted by the garrulous lady who took over the conductor's Tannoy to regale us with her own running commentary. We spilled out at Queen Street into George Square, teeming with "the denim brigade" - so dubbed next day by this very organ, in contrast to the classical and opera buffs widely seen as being over-indulged by the Year of Culture programme.
With four open-air stages around the city, plus legions of street entertainers, The Big Day was billed as a free people's festival to rival the Notting Hill Carnival, Mardi Gras and Woodstock rolled into one, and on this occasion the 1990 hype did not prove overblown.
Headliners Deacon Blue closed the night before a totally loved-up sea of people on Glasgow Green, with Ricky Ross delivering an impassioned anti-Tory tirade and dedicating Orphans to unemployed miners. REM's Michael Stipe prompted the biggest scrum at the smallest Riverside Stage, on Customhouse Quay, and other top turns came from acts as diverse as Aswad, Nanci Griffith and Les Negresses Vertes.
A powerhouse Scottish contingent also included Hue and Cry, Wet Wet Wet, Love and Money, and Big Country - although Sheena Easton was booed offstage for declaring "it's great to be home" in an American accent.
The flyposter gives you some idea of the line-up and there's now some clips kicking around on you tube...
It was a day that split itself neatly in two. The afternoon had three main stages, but on every street corner there seemed to be some sort of busker playing. Having gone all the way across town to the stage furthest away from our city centre flat, the Villains made their way back slowly through the immense and incredibly well-behaved crowds. There was next to no drunkenness which made if safe for the loads of infants and small kids being pushed around in prams. My recollection is that there was no hawking of over-priced merchandise from any of the bands (although I may stand to be corrected) and although crowd-wise it had the numbers of the huge festivals we are used to nowadays it was a very different feel.
The evening was centred entirely around the football pitches on Glasgow Green..all the goalposts were taken out to create an enormous open space and with entry being free there were no fences to keep anyone out. It was just a giant party with loads of communal singing...and of course the above mentioned heckling and bottling of Sheena Easton who totally misjudged the whole thing:-
Musically, the acts booked for The Big Day were very much on the safe side but the idea was to make it as populist as possible rather than just being something for music snobs. It was the sort of thing where myself and Mrs Villain didn't hang around the same place for all that long during the day and so caught snippets of lots of things while the evening it was more about soaking up the atmosphere and good vibes from a huge audience determined to have a good time and party. It was very much a one-off and it was a great thing to be a part of.
mp3 : Hue & Cry - Mother Glasgow
Back to normal tomorrow....