The Beatles, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix. Undeniable legends of their craft and global phenomenons during their peak years, but did you know that all three of those iconic acts have performed live in Lincolnshire?
You might not think it given the lack of large-scale events venues in our county, but Lincolnshire has played host to an enviable list of the world’s top music superstars.
Nowadays if you want to go to a gig in Lincolnshire, your options are somewhat limited in terms of the big names of the industry, but in the 1960s and 1970s we saw a who’s who of the world’s finest arrive in our county.
The roaring honeymoon period of the Boston Gliderdrome, the history of the ABC Cinema in Lincoln, or the more recent legend slot location of Lincolnshire Showground.
Here are some of those notorious names to perform in Lincolnshire, and where they could be seen:
ABC Cinema, Lincoln
The former ABC Cinema in Lincoln played host to a string of top-tier names in music history while it was open in the city. It closed as the ABC in 1972, and has been redeveloped into what we now know as the Waterside Shopping Centre.
However, in 1963 it played host to perhaps the most famous band of all time, as The Beatles stopped off in Lincoln during their autumn tour of that year.
Four years later in 1967, a ‘package tour’ of some of music’s biggest names at the time came to the ABC Cinema for a live show – including Cat Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck and the late, great Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix performed big hits like Hey Joe and Purple Haze during the two shows at the ABC Cinema in Lincoln, and it served as his only gig here in the city – as Hendrix passed away aged 27 three years later.
The Gliderdrome, Boston
Serving as one of Boston’s most iconic venues, the Gliderdrome played host to some of the most recognisable names in entertainment in its heyday.
The building’s first purpose was that of an ice skating rink in the 1930s, before dangers of World War Two prompted it to be covered with a roof.
A fire severely damaged the site in the 1950s and a new building was created in place of it for dancing, before eventually it became a hub for pop music in the 1960s and early 1970s.
It was in this time that the Gliderdrome saw the likes of Brenda Lee (1964), The Kinks (1965), Sir Tom Jones (1965), Dusty Springfield (1966), The Who (1966), Otis Redding (1966), Stevie Wonder (1967), Ike and Tina Turner (1968), T Rex (1971 &1972), Elton John (1973) and much more perform.
BBC Two explored Tina Turner’s visit to the UK in a documentary released on Christmas Day, speaking to Tina and the people who went to her shows, including her gig at Boston’s Gliderdrome. You can watch When Tina Turner Came to Britain on the BBC iPlayer.
A campaign is underway with the venue and the Mayor of Boston to try and get Elton John to return to The Gliderdrome for another gig, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his last show at the historic building in 1973.
Engine Shed, Lincoln
In modern times, the Engine Shed in Lincoln has been a primary indoor events venue for the county of Lincolnshire, with a host of major names across the world of entertainment gracing the stage in recent memory.
February 2007 saw Kings of Leon arrive in Lincoln to perform hits from their first two albums, as well as material that would appear on their third record Because of the Times, released later that year.
Stereophonics also came to the Engine Shed in 2007 as part of a string of warm-up shows ahead of a larger tour. Crowds rejoiced as fan favourite anthems Dakota and Handbags And Gladrags echoed through the venue.
As for 2010, innovative virtual band Gorillaz, fronted by Blur’s Damon Albarn, prepared for their Coachella headline show with a performance at the Engine Shed – dazzling crowds with the band’s unique style and sound.
More recently the likes of Kasabian, Courteeners, Blossoms and Becky Hill have stolen the show in Lincoln – with more exciting shows continuing to be announced.
As outdoor spots for live events go, the Lincolnshire Showground provides an ideal backdrop for performers capable of selling tens of thousands of tickets for their shows.
Elton John arrived in June 2016 for his Wonderful Crazy Night tour, playing his massive catalogue of recognisable hits to over 17,000 people in Lincolnshire.
This was followed by a performance from five-time Grammy winner Lionel Richie in 2018, who brought his breathless show of hits spanning decades to the county.
A memorable weekend in July 2022 saw Paul Weller and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man perform at the Lincolnshire Showground in consecutive days, capped off by a Red Arrows flypast during the latter’s show.
Market Rasen Racecourse
Market Rasen Racecourse often puts on events where crowds can enjoy a day of horse racing followed by a live show from a recognisable figure in the music industry – and in recent years there have been some huge names to grace the stage.
Artists such as Jess Glynne, Olly Murs and Craig David have headlined shows there in the past, while the venue caters for older audiences too with some historic bookings.
Sir Tom Jones was the star attraction in August 2015, while it was the turn of Kaiser Chiefs in 2017 and ska band Madness in June 2019.
Announcements for the 2023 summer season are imminent, with hopes high of another star rocking the Market Rasen Racecourse stage.
The Baths Hall, Scunthorpe
What began as a public bath house from the early 1930s, eventually became one of the most sought-after venues in Lincolnshire. The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe has seen many a superstar come through the doors since it began serving as an entertainment spot in the 1970s.
The late Radio 1 DJ John Peel reportedly rated The Baths Hall as his favourite venue, and it was clearly a popular choice for many stellar names in the business.
Lulu, Slade, The Who, Suzi Quatro and much more played there, while Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks also performed live wrestling shows at the multi-purpose venue.
The last band to headline the hall before it was converted into the building we know today were supposed to be 70s rockers Buzzcocks, but a late withdrawal meant that Enter Shikari stepped up to take on the final swan song at the Baths Hall.
The new site opened in November 2011 with a comedy set from Bill Bailey, and it has played host to a series of live music, theatre, comedy and more since it reappeared in Scunthorpe.
Grammy winners Arcade Fire performed at the Baths Hall in June 2017, and Florence & The Machine were there in May 2018. Two Glastonbury headliners in the last six years – that’s not bad going at all for a 1,800 capacity venue.
The Bivouac Club, Lincoln
Situated on the first floor above the historic Duke of Wellington pub, The Bivouac Club in Lincoln was one of the premier places to be if you were a music fan in the 1980s, 90s or 00s.
It housed a regular Northern Soul Club in the 60s and 70s before transitioning into a popular music venue in the later years.
In 2003, when they were a shadow of the famous megaband we know them as now, The Killers came to bring the house down at The Bivouac Club, which came just a year after Biffy Clyro’s performance.
Our design studio was Lincoln's best-loved music venue back in the Noughties, so we've created wall art to remember the bands that played here.
–#design #designstudio #interiordesign @BiffyClyro #musiclovers #lincoln #gigstagram #gigslife #livemusic #musicvenue #wallart pic.twitter.com/HO6VjqP9JK
— Optima Design (@OptimaDesign) August 9, 2019
Earlier than that we saw the likes of Pulp, Saxon and Ten Pole Tudor bless the stage, as this quirky venue above a popular pub continued to attract emerging names.
The site sat vacant from 2011 until February 2019, when graphic design consultants Optima moved into the building on Broadgate to mark a new era for the site.
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