Last month we travelled down to Manchester to see Ray LaMontagne at O2 Apollo Manchester. We then had tickets to see him the following night at SEC Armadillo Glasgow. Some may say we’re crazy, but we often like to see the same artist or band in different locations during their UK tour. If you have been a follower for a while you will know we love a road trip. I was hoping to have this review up before now, but things have been a little hectic lately. I’m now happy to share my SEC Armadillo Glasgow wheelchair access review.
Getting to SEC Armadillo
Glasgow is really easy for us to travel to either by train or car. We always prefer to drive through and it’s much quicker to get home after the gig. We had only returned home from Manchester a few hours earlier, so it was a quick dinner and back out the door again ready for round two of Ray LaMontagne.
Booking Accessible Tickets
It’s been a few years since I went to a gig at SEC Armadillo, so I had to check their website to find out what the process was for booking accessible tickets. The website states to call 0800 952 0110 (free phone) to book these tickets but doesn’t mention anything about PA/carer tickets. When I called to book the tickets I was informed that I would receive a free PA/carer ticket for the gig. Even though I had to call I actually found it really easy to book the tickets. That may have been a different story if it was a high demand show, but thankfully we got our tickets without any hassle.
Arrival at SEC Armadillo
The SEC Armadillo is located in the same area as The SSE Hydro and SECC. We go to the Hydro a lot so we decided to park where we always park which is on Minerva Street, Finnieston. Although it’s not a disabled parking bay, we usually find a parking space really easy here. We just make sure our blue badge is clearly displayed. Parking here means we have to walk through the Finnieston Tunnel, which we don’t mind. I find this easy in my powered wheelchair, but it may be slightly too far if you have limited mobility or tire easily.
The majority of the tunnel is flat but there are gradients that go up and down too. The tunnel is enclosed so you are sheltered from the weather if it’s windy or raining. It took us about 5 ish minutes to walk through the tunnel and the venue is only a minute walk away.
There were stewards waiting outside checking tickets and we had to wait in a small queue. Once inside we asked a steward where our section was and then we headed to find an accessible toilet.
Access at SEC Armadillo
When we arrived the foyer wasn’t too busy, but we managed to get through and find the toilet. There was a woman waiting outside the toilet for her friend, so we just waited. The man then came out and I overheard her saying she was going to use the toilet as well. She then looked at me with a slightly guilty look and told me to go first. I went ahead, but as soon as Allan opened the door for me to drive into the toilet, we both looked at each other with dread.
The toilet was far too small. It was like a cupboard. We struggled to close the door behind us and once inside I wasn’t able to turn my wheelchair. There was barely any room for Allan to stand in front of me to lift and transfer me to/from my wheelchair and toilet. It was extremely unacceptable not to mention dangerous. We could have easily gotten one of our legs caught and fallen over. Lifting me in such tight and dangerous conditions puts both of us at risk.
Venue Accessibility & Viewing Area
Finally, we made it out alive, but my anger was bubbling. We headed towards our section and to our accessible seats. The accessible seats are in two sections, one on each side and located in the back of the hall.
The view from the accessible seats is pretty good as it’s not a huge hall. There are spaces next to you for whoever you are with so you will be able to sit together, unlike my experience the previous night seeing Ray LaMontagne at O2 Apollo in Manchester. There is a ledge that runs along this section so you will be able to place drinks on it, which saves you having to hold them all night. I thought the accessible seats were relatively empty that night as there were only four other people and no wheelchairs apart from me.
I noticed there was a steward standing close by which is good if you needed assistance with anything.
SEC Armadillo has an accessibility section on their website under ‘Visitor Information’. It covers access to building, car parking, if you need to borrow a wheelchair from the venue, toilets, assistance dogs as well as details on induction loops systems being available.
Since we had just seen Ray perform the previous night in Manchester we knew what to expect. By no means does that mean we were less looking forward to it. We were possibly looking forward to it even more. If you want the low down on Ray’s performance you might want to read my review from his Manchester gig. What I will say is his performance in Glasgow was beautiful and amazing. Hopefully, he doesn’t leave it so long until he’s back in the UK again.
On the whole accessibility at SEC Armadillo is good, but it is a much older building compared to the modern Hydro and in that sense is lacking in providing more up to date accessibility. The toilets are my biggest issue and can’t stress enough the importance of improving them asap. The toilet we used was tiny and barely had enough space for my wheelchair. This meant we struggled to close the door behind us and made wheelchair transfers dangerous. The viewing platforms are good and provide a pretty decent view of the stage.
Have you been to SEC Armadillo Glasgow? How did you find the accessibility?