It’s hard to try to pick a Top Five of stand-out gigs from the lifetime of music venue the Ironworks as it’s now just days away from going dark forever.
When it opened in 2006, it brought bigger established names, exciting breaking bands adding Inverness to their nationwide touring schedules and the chance to finally catch legends you had never imagined would ever make it to the city in your lifetime.
The Ironworks brought colour, drama, amazing music, big stars and rock’n’roll dreams – but also almost every music genre you can think of too, including world music, traditional, jazz, country, punk, indie to Southern rock (yes, that’s you Black Stone Cherry!) …
To pick just five of those unforgettable nights is an impossible task – a hundred other possible choices jostle on playback in your head. Buzzcocks, Laura Marling, Enter Shikari, Edwyn Collins (every time he played), Primal Scream, The Fall, The Charlatans, The View, Idles, Joan Armatrading, Shed Seven, Frightened Rabbit (and PAWS), Mumford And Sons, Franz Ferdinand, Lewis Capaldi. OK, I’m really cheating now.
But for lots of reasons, these would be my five… today!
KASABIAN (May 24, 2007)
This was the first time a crazy synergy between the Ironworks audience and an artist created a charge of electricity that made the venue come alive. The band’s then frontman Tom Meighan used his boyish charm to woo the crowd with a setlist packing Club Foot, LSF, Reason Is Treason, Cutt Off – and only started with banger Shoot The Runner! Combined with the same kind of lairy charm as Oasis and with Sergio Pizzorno’s infinite cool – who could resist?
PUBLIC IMAGE LITD (June 11, 2016)
As Johnny Rotten, John Lydon had been the fiery devil powering punk as The Sex Pistols’ frontman before moving swiftly on to Public Image Ltd. But who would have expected his first appearance in front of an Inverness crowd would turn into a mutual adoration love-in.
QUOTE: “The night ended as it had begun, John double-punching his heart with his fist before pumping the arm out wide to cover the room in a possibly unexpected love declaration from one of rock’s most supposedly awkward customers.”
VAN MORRISON (Dec 5, 2007)
The Irish legend’s first visit to Inverness for three charity gigs introduced the Ironworks crowd to some of Van’s quirks – yellow and black police incident tape marking a line the audience couldn’t cross between Van and the stage. And despite a thrill at hearing the singer’s actual voice – accompanied by a band of virtuosos – singing Brown-eyed Girl and Gloria, didn’t that first night dip in the middle somewhere? Since then, Van has returned to headline Belladrum. But could we ever be so hyped again as we were that first time …
BABYSHAMBLES (Dec 9, 2006)
A big build-up for this one with the sheer danger of having Pete Doherty in the house. Yes, he smoked on stage! But did the music set us on fire? Not as much as having fellow Libertine Carl Barat’s presence too. We had to wait till 2017 for that when The Libertines were back together …
MORRISSEY (17 June, 2011)
The venue was full of Smiths fans of a certain greying vintage, so the mood was respectful. But just to hear those songs on that stage, 26 years after the famous Smiths gig at Eden Court, felt pretty special. “Inverness, Inverness, I’m a quivering mess…” Morrissey smiled before launching into the set. The crowd had been frisked for cameras before they got into the Ironworks main room.