O2 Academy Glasgow is one of the most popular music venues in Glasgow. It’s the place for some of the biggest upcoming stars in music to perform for their Scottish fans. I’ve been to many gigs at this venue, but have only ever reviewed it once when it was hosting the Able2UK concert a few years ago. I recently saw the amazing Maren Morris perform there so I thought it was time for an up-to-date O2 Academy Glasgow wheelchair access review.
As with most, if not all O2 Academy venues, booking ‘accessible’ tickets is easy and straightforward. You don’t have to call the venue to book your tickets. You can easily book general tickets online like everyone else. Great, isn’t it? All you have to do is book a general ticket for yourself and then contact the venue to rearrange your access requirements. If this is your first time booking tickets you will have to complete an access requirements form and provide proof of disability.
Once this is received the venue will then be able to confirm your access requirements and free PA/carer ticket if requested. You will be given an access code that you can then use for future bookings at any O2 Academy venue. This saves having to explain your access requirements or disability each time. Of course, if you prefer, you can call the venue to book your tickets and access requirements. It’s good that there is the option to go ahead and book a ticket online as soon as they go on sale.
There is no dedicated car park at O2 Academy. We always drive through and park just outside the venue next to the side door entrance. There are residential flats right next to the venue with private parking only, so trying to find a parking spot can be tricky. If you arrive by train into Glasgow Central Station you will have about a ten-minute walk or a fifteen-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street Station. Some people may even find it easier to be dropped off and picked up outside the venue.
A door steward spotted us as soon as we arrived and asked if we were going in. He ticked my name off the access list and radioed his colleague to meet us at the door. He then appeared and escorted us into the building which is through the side door (pictured above) and down a small but steepish ramp into the venue.
The steward then explained where we would be sitting, where he would be standing if we needed assistance and where the accessible toilet was. He then took us over to our spaces in the viewing area.
Accessibility at O2 Academy Glasgow
The viewing area is raised above the standing area which is directly in front. There is space for several wheelchairs plus companions with bench-type seats for companions or anyone who has requested access.
It is not a dedicated accessible only viewing area though. It is open to anyone who attends the show, but reserved signs are placed on the railings in front if you have requested access. Priority is given to those people, but once you are in your spot, people can then move up behind or to the side of you. The bar is also behind the viewing area, which can make this area very busy.
A lot of disabled/wheelchairs users like to be amongst the crowd and not separated on a platform or sectioned off area. Personally, especially when it’s a sold-out show, the venue can feel extremely crowded and everyone is squashed in.
I don’t like the feeling of being trapped in my space and having people right up surrounding me and my wheelchair. It doesn’t feel safe or comfortable and causes a nightmare if you need to go to the toilet during the show. How do you move your wheelchair and navigate the crowds when everyone is so tightly packed in.
I think there should be a slight divide or maybe a rope barrier with a clear path for disabled people and wheelchair users to move from their space and go to the toilet or bar with causing any problems or accidents.
Apart from that, I enjoy the view of the stage from the viewing area. This time we were bang in the centre so it was a great view straight onto the stage. Allan was able to sit beside me and because it wasn’t a sold-out show and a more mature audience, it didn’t feel as crowded. I was able to move to adjust my position and tilt my wheelchair back to ease pressure without having to make sure I wasn’t going to run over anyone’s toes or stab them in the groin with my handlebars. Haha.
At the end of the show, the same steward who brought us in guides us back out once the majority of the audience has left. It’s a very straightforward process and the staff are always so helpful and friendly.
Thankfully, I’ve never had to use the accessible toilet at O2 Academy Glasgow. I make sure I don’t drink before or during the gig because, as I mentioned before, getting through the crowds isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, my fellow Euan’s Guide Ambassador, Hollie, has reviewed the venue and said “The toilet is accessible but very poor. It has folded up manual chairs to the right of the seat so I could not line my chair up. It would be extremely cramped to get a carer in to assist and I almost fell transferring. It is not especially clean or well lit and there is no space to turn.” You can read her full review here.
Country star Maren Morris is an incredible artist and outstanding live. This is the second time we have seen her. The first time was at O2 ABC Glasgow two years ago. She was amazing then. So when we found out she was coming back to tour her new album, Girl, we didn’t hesitate. This time she came with support act, Raelynn,
We are so glad we went because it was sooo good. From the moment she appeared on stage wearing her glittery knee-high boots, holding her guitar and strumming the first chords to Girl, the crowd went crazy for her.
Maren performed a mix of ballads and upbeat tracks, but all while keeping the audience’s attention. The crowd got even louder during the big hits like Rich, My Church and All My Favourite People.
When Maren left the stage after the encore, everyone began cheering and stomping the floor. Is there any wonder why Scottish fans are known to be the best? Maren couldn’t ignore the crowd’s reaction and appeared again to perform Shade then the collaboration with Zedd, The Middle. If you haven’t heard of Maren Morris, please go give her a listen then go see her live. You can thank me later.
O2 Academy Glasgow is a great wheelchair accessible music venue. The ticket booking process is easy and allows you to book online as soon as pre and general sale open up. The venue offers free PA/Carer tickets to companions of disabled people. The staff is always helpful and general access inside the venue is good. The only thing I don’t like is how busy the viewing area can get. It makes it difficult for wheelchair users/disabled people to move around or go to the toilet safely. Maren Morris was outstanding!