AFTER months of careful examination, a list of 125 applicants has been whittled down to seven.
The shortlisted architects competing for the £25 million prize to transform Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens by replacing the rickety, but much-loved, Ross Bandstand with a new outdoor concert arena finally revealed their designs.
And I was consumed with rage, numbed with shock.
Their ideas were not a magnificent seven on which to feast your eyes, but colossal carbuncles and visual aberrations.
Scenic pollution on a grand scale and, no matter that £8 million for this intended destruction of one of the capital’s historic landmarks was coming from a private investor, it was a complete waste of cash.
Auld Reekie, indeed, Reeking of rotten ideas, more like.
As for the individual concert arena options released? Well, there was one that looked like the top of warped metal ashtray, another a botched mixture of a greenhouse and a shed.
There was a monstrous stone-block mausoleum. Then there was the grounded three-pronged Klingon spaceship, a futuristic whirling skateboard ring, a concertinaed metal-roofed theatre and, what I consider he worst of a very bad bunch, a massive curved grass mound that resembled the Teletubbies’ house.
Concert arenas? I struggled with a few to even find the stage.
Otherworldly, impractical sci-fi concepts of today’s trendy, award-seeking architects who think that’s what venues should look like.
Not something that is actually fit for purpose, a venue that would blend in with its surroundings which, in this case, is the wonderful Edinburgh Castle.
They are intent on tearing down a classic venue when, for a fraction of the cost, it could be renovated and made great again, as has been done at Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow.
This regeneration project has been so successful, promoters are tripping over themselves to book their big-name artistes in. Acts such as Nile Rodgers, The Pixies, Texas and Seasick Steve to name but a few.
I understand the desire for Edinburgh to have its own outdoor concert arena, it comes a very poor second to Glasgow, now a recognised UNESCO City of Music.
Here there is a mixture of venues such as The Hug And Pint, Nice N Sleazy, The Cathouse, King Tut’s, The Garage, The ABC , Barrowlands, O2 Academy, SSE Hydro and outdoor events and festivals such as Summer Nights, TRNSMT, The Riverside and Bellahouston Park.
What does Edinburgh have? Bannerman’s, Voodoo Rooms, Liquid Rooms, Queens Hall and Usher Hall and that’s about it.
So, if the city wants to be seen as a serious player in the world of music then they should invest in the grass roots, celebrate their small venues, not close them because of a few noise complaints, or their close proximity to Holyrood.
They should be regenerating not only the Ross Bandstand but its plethora of old decaying music halls and theatres in Leith, Clerk St and on Lothian Road not frivolously spending millions as they did with the trams .
That would be music to the ears for all bands, fans and promoters instead of the bum notes and bum deal they currently get.
On sad note, if they are looking for a bandstand on the cheap my sources tell me that due to a bereavement there might be one available in Trumpton – Chigley Bandstand. Just contact solicitors Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub.
R.I.P., Brian Cant.