Two weeks ago we went to The Old Fruitmarket to see Irish band, Picture This. The Old Fruitmarket is a concert hall, which is part of the City Halls. Back in the 1970s, it was a market, now it’s a beautiful venue for weddings, gigs and BBC Scotland’s annual Hogmanay Party. Allan has been to this venue many times before, but this was my first time, although I have been to the City Halls venue for a gig years ago though. Here is my review of The Old Fruitmarket disabled access and wheelchair accessibility for the Picture This gig on 23rd March.
Booking Accessible Tickets at The Old Fruitmarket
Booking accessible tickets at The Old Fruitmarket was straightforward. I can’t tell you how much I love when that happens. As soon as I found out Picture This was going to be at The Old Fruitmarket I went online to find out how to book tickets. Glasgow Concert Halls is the website for The Old Fruitmarket, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any accessibility information. I headed to Euan’s Guide website and had a look through the reviews.
After reading the reviews of the venue I decided to call the venue for more information and book my tickets. The call lasted 3 mins 20 seconds. Amazing. The person I spoke to was lovely and explained that I would receive a free PA ticket and our seats would be in the accessible stalls.
Disabled Parking at The Old Fruitmarket
Glasgow is really convenient for us so we drove through and found nearby on-street parking with our Disabled Blue Badge. Glasgow Queen Street station is a 10 minute walk from the venue so easy to get to if you are arriving by train. Central Station is also within walking distance and around 10 – 15-minute walk. Of course, bare this in mind depending on the weather as if it’s cold or raining it will not be pleasant. If you would rather use a car park then there is an NCP on Ingram Street which is right at the venue. The car park has an amazing street art mural so it definitely stands out.
Wheelchair Accessibility & Accessible Seating
Access into The Old Fruitmarket is easy and step-free. We headed for the Box Office as we didn’t receive our tickets in the post. It wasn’t a problem though and the woman printed them straightaway for us. There was another woman standing waiting to escort us to the lift and to the accessible balcony area. The lift was spacious and could easily accommodate two wheelchairs and a few companions.
Accessible Balcony Area
The first thing I thought when I saw the accessible balcony area was how much space there was. There was only one other wheelchair user, so there was plenty of space. A retractable tape barrier was in place behind us but not pulled all the way across so we weren’t fully enclosed in, which was great. This meant we had room to move around and for getting out if going to the toilet etc.
I really liked this set up of having the retractable tape barrier behind us for that extra bit of breathing space. I wished they did this at O2 Academy and O2 ABC Glasgow as I always feel like we’re crammed in and unable to move as people stand right up against the back and sides of my wheelchair.
View From The Accessible Balcony Area
As much as I loved the space in the accessible balcony I really didn’t like the view from there. My view was restricted because of the balcony railing in front of us. It was right at eye-level. At first, I found myself bending my neck down to see under it, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that for long. We moved back a little hoping that would give us a better view but it didn’t improve much.
It wasn’t just me that was struggling with the balcony railing though. Despite Allan being over 6 foot he also couldn’t see the stage comfortably while seated. The other wheelchair user also couldn’t see but lucky her wheelchair was able to rise up to give her a better view. There was another couple in the accessible area that sat on seats and they too couldn’t see the stage without bending their necks down to see under and through the balcony railings.
The only saving grace was the projector screen hanging above the stage. This let us see what was happening on the stage, but because it was a projector, it wasn’t the best quality so it may be difficult for people with visual impairments. Allan needs to wear glasses for distances but can manage without if he doesn’t have his glasses with him. He didn’t have them with him at the Old Fruitmarket so did struggle to focus on the screen.
The accessible toilet is very close to the balcony area which is great. We wanted to take a quick snap of the toilet before leaving but just as we approached we saw five girls all going into the accessible toilet at the same time. The accessible toilet doesn’t have a RADAR lock, which I think it would be a very good idea if it did. Unfortunately, we couldn’t wait around for all five girls to come out of the accessible toilet so we had to leave.
Picture This is an Irish band with a pop-rock sound and have recently released their second album MDRN LV. I’ve enjoyed their music for the past year, particularly their self-titled debut album so was keen to see them live when it was announced they were coming to Glasgow.
I hate to admit this, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the gig. I mean, seriously, I don’t think I have ever given a bad or even slightly bad review of a band on my blog. We both left the gig feeling a bit deflated. I think the poor view didn’t help, but in terms of the actual performance, we felt like the band were trying too hard. Frontman Ryan Hennessey was a bit of a show-off, which didn’t impress me much. The set didn’t get us going or have us wishing they’d sing a few more songs.
The Old Fruitmarket is a stunning venue and is incredibly pretty with its coloured lights softly lighting up the balcony and ceiling. I found it easy to book accessible tickets and appreciated that they offer a free PA/carer ticket. Access into the venue is very good and the staff were friendly while escorting us up in the lift and to the balcony area. Unfortunately, the balcony view is a let down for wheelchair users, companions and anyone needing to be seated in the accessible area. A small raised platform could make all the difference and give an unrestricted view of the stage. The accessible toilet isn’t RADAR operated so I feel it could be used by people who don’t necessarily need it. I witnessed five girls all going into the accessible toilet at the same time.
I have another gig at The Old Fruitmarket in May. I’m pretty sure it will be a seated gig and we’ll be downstairs so I’m interested to see what the accessibility will be like at that gig. Stayed tuned for that.
Have you been to The Old Fruitmarket? How did you find disabled access and wheelchair accessibility?