The Apollo Opens – 5 September 1973
Further to my recent post about coverage of the Apollo’s opening in the NME, I thought it would useful to have a look at how the new venue was represented in the local press, albeit the article in question is not exactly impartial, as it appears as an ‘advertisement feature’ in the Evening Times on the day that the Apollo held its first concert (5 September 1973). While we mostly regard the Apollo as a live music venue, the emphasis is placed firmly on the venue’s cinema operation, with its concert facilities barely mentioned. However, within the article there are several clues offered about the some of the reasoning underpinning the venue’s refurbishment and the manner in which the Apollo would operate.
The article, entitled ‘The city gets a touch of Hollywood’ by David Gibson, is noticeable for some of the following comments, and perhaps deserves to be quoted at length:
Glasgow’s latest cinema sparkles into business on Saturday … and I use the word ‘sparkles’ advisedly. Because the frontage of the new Apollo Cinema is covered in a glittering silver sheen”
Frank Lynch stated, “It’s a new material put on by a new process, and as a cinema fan from away back I think it seems appropriate not only because it’s as new as the picture house, but because it’s starry stuff. A touch of Hollywood you might say.
The entire picture house has been refurbished and, if you pardon the expression, has some of the poshest loos in Scotland. The building has been redecorated throughout from back to front, recarpeted, rewired, and rethought. All the seating is brand-new and luxury stuff at that. Even the bits the audience will never see are furnished and decorated like a four star hotel for the simple reason that when the Apollo is not showing films it will be Scotland’s largest venue for star names live on stage concerts – like the Johnny Cash show which is being held there tonight. And top stars demand top everything.”
As well as a change-round in appearance, there’s a change-round in the kind of films the cinema will show. It is exit “Naughty Knickers” and “The Curse of Tollcross” and enter programmes of proven quality films.
Frank Lynch: ”We’re opening on Saturday with “Nicholas and Alexandra”, a beautifully made film with some of the most splendid settings and photography ever seen – and that’s acknowledged by film makers everywhere … All these films are being chosen very carefully for both quality and acceptability. We don’t want to show second-rate horror pictures or dubious films of any kind.
We have one other thing which is unique in Glasgow cinemas – our own restaurant-snack bar in the building. Behind the cash desk, before the cinema doors, we have a 250 seat fully modernised restaurant with a brand new open-plan kitchen. We hope the restaurant will become one of Glasgow’s leading meeting places. Let’s face it – what Glaswegian hasn’t stood about in the rain waiting for his girl for a night at the pictures? You can wait in comfort now.”
The above comments all prove interesting, with the reasoning behind the application of glitter to almost every surface at the Apollo becoming somewhat more evident. I’m unsure if I experienced the full extent of the refurbishment quoted, but perhaps my memory doesn’t extend to the specifics of the décor from my early gigs at the venue. However, as is well known, some of the ‘recarpeting’ involved dyeing the existing ‘It’s Green’s – It’s Good’ carpets a shade of purple.
The changeover from soft porn films that were a key ‘attraction’ of the Green’s Playhouse schedule towards ‘classic’ and ‘serious’ films at the Apollo was obviously a concerted attempt to rid the venue of the ‘dirty mac brigade’. The Apollo also went onto show several boxing fights as part of a satellite link up in the years that followed.
Again, I can’t recall the 250-seat restaurant-snack bar at the venue, and I wonder how long this venture lasted, as it appears noticeable by its absence in any previous coverage on the Apollo’s facilities.
Overall, it’s an interesting article and I hope to discuss other media coverage in other posts to follow.