IN what was a very welcome change of scenery, both physically and mentally, I was invited to Balloch Country Park, to be interviewed by STV news presenter Laura Boyd for a small piece they were doing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Oasis' shows which took place on the bonnie banks back in August 1997. Something, which as a co-promoter of that summer extravaganza, I was only too happy to take part in.

Described at the time as the most significant shows to have ever taken place in Scotland, that claim today still arguably holds up. These two unforgettable gigs will always Live Forever in the minds of the frantic 90,000+ fans lucky enough to get a ticket, the thousands who didn’t but who managed to sneak in by any means possible, including doggy paddling across the loch, the hundreds of crew and staff involved and the then-traumatised council officials, park administrators, police commanders, emergency services, security guards and, of course, the 6000 shocked residents of Balloch who must have thought the end of the world was nigh, when massed hordes of “mad for it" wonderwall’ing Oasis fans rolled into their sleepy wee town.

As I sat, gazing out across the lush tree-lined grassy hill, which majestically sweeps down from Balloch Castle to level out beside the tranquil waters of the loch, it was hard at first to equate this serene setting as the very same one which had played host to the warring Gallagher brothers, Rock and Roll Stars and undisputed champions of Brit-pop and which was left looking like part of the Somme once they had departed.

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The production challenges, we as event organisers, Regular Music and CPL, faced were daunting. These included the laying of emergency access roads, the installation of 10 miles of security and trackway fencing, winching in electricity generators with enough power to light up Dumbarton, building a 200ft stage with screens, sound and light, a production village, secure artist areas, VIP bars, public bars, first aid tents, merch and food stalls, box offices, and police comms, security and crew cabins, plus over 500 Portaloos, many of which were pushed over during the show with punters in them! Yeuch!

There were massive camp sites and car parking areas to be designated, and what must be a festival first, a flotilla of boats hired to ferry all the artists which included Ocean Colour Scene, Black Grape, Cast and The Bootleg Beatles backstage to and from Cameron House Hotel.

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I laughed out loud at some of the memories. There were drunk fans falling out the trees like conkers, a ridiculous attempt by others as they tried to make off with a 3-tonne generator, and the hilarious Battle of Balloch. A classic Keystone Cops moment when mounted police gave chase to ticketless fans outside the site, only for them to end up being chased back up the hill.

These shows were definitely, no maybes about it, the Champagne Supernova gigs of a generation. But what does the future hold for Scottish festivals and large outdoor gigs?

Nearly two years of stringent Covid restrictions and lockdowns has decimated this vital industry and its equally vital supply chain. Festivals, and outdoor gigs, small and large right across the nation have fallen like flies since the start of the pandemic and music tourism, worth over £600 million to Scotland’s battered economy, in particular to our hospitality sector, has all but dried up. It is in a perilous state and more targeted government support must be given if it is to ever fully recover.

The announcement this week that TRNSMT festival in Glasgow has been confirmed for September 10-12 is very welcome news and we can only hope that now restrictions have been lifted, that other popular festivals follow and that we are not one day Looking Back in Anger at missed opportunities.

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