Empire/Festival Theatre

The Empire Theatre on Nicolson Street, has stood since 7th November 1892, the first of the great Moss Empire chain, built by famous theatre architect Frank Matcham. 
The theatre has played host to the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Morecambe and Wise, Houdini, Judy Garland, Tony Hancock, Tommy Cooper, and Bruce Forsyth and many more, as well as the many legendary bands and performers mentioned below.  Now the Festival Theatre. 

Festival Theatre, and back door lane area 20th April 2009. ©S.S. 2009..

  • 1971  15th January Black Sabbath, support bands Freedom & Curved Air
Thank you to David Evans for the images above of the 1971 Black Sabbath tour programme.
  • 1971  6th March Deep Purple, & Ashton, Gardner, & Dyke
Thank you to David Evans for this rare ticket.
  • 1971  16th March Stone The Crows, & special guests Beggars Opera & Arc
  • 1971  19th March Jethro Tull, support band Steeleye Span, 23:30 show time
  • 1971  25th September Deep Purple
  • 1971  30th October T-Rex
Thank you to Geoff Collier for this ticket
  • 1972  15th January Family, & Help Yourself
  • 1972  29th January Black Sabbath, support band Wild Turkey
Tour poster showing the Empire date as 26th November 1971, this date was cancelled and rescheduled for 29th January 1972.  Nazareth did not play at the rescheduled date.  Loving the “Dark Princes Of Downer Rock” header!
  • 1972  4th February Mountain, support band Jimmy McCulloch
  • 1972  5th February Barclay James Harvest, support Bands Stud & Comus
  • 1972  12th February Quintessence
  • 1972  19th February Stackwaddy, Medicine Head & Bridget St John
  • 1972  25th February Free, support band Amazing Blondel
Thank you to Geoff Collier for this ticket.
Thank you to John Gray for these rare pictures of Free at the Empire 25th February 1972.  © John Gray.
  • 1972  26th February Roy Harper 
  • 1972  4th March Elton John
  • 1972  24th March Jethro Tull
  • 1972  15th April Curved Air
Thank you to Geoff Collier for this ticket.
  • 1972  14th September Free, supported by Smith Perkins & Smith
  • 1972  23rd September  Deep Purple
  • 1972  7th October Lindisfarne, Genesis, & Rab Noakes
Thank you to David Evans for this rare ticket.
  • 1972  24th November Slade, support bands Thin Lizzy & Suzi Quatro
Thank you to Geoff Collier for this ticket.
  • 1972  25th November Hawkwind
  • 1972  8th December Wishbone Ash
Thank you to Geoff Collier for this ticket.
  • 1973  6th January David Bowie, support bands Fumble, & Stealers Wheel
Thank you to Geoff Collier for the two Circle tickets above.
Grand Circle ticket.

The nine pictures above are David Bowie at The Empire Theatre on the 6th January 1973.  Thank you to Julie Tomlinson for these rare pictures. ©Julie Tomlinson 1973.
  • 1973  20th January Uriah Heep
  • 1973  14th April Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
  • 1973  19th May David Bowie  (Bowie’s party keeping The Monty Python team awake back at the hotel, see under The Kings Theatre for the full story).
Grand Circle ticket.
Orchestra stalls ticket.
The above two scans are the front and rear of a flyer advertising the concert.  Thank you to Scottie Somerville for this item.
The twelve pictures above are David Bowie at The Empire Theatre on 19th May 1973.  Thank you to Julie Tomlinson for these rare pictures.  ©Julie Tomlinson 1973.
A tour itinerary from the David Bowie May/June tour, showing Bowie staying at the Posthouse Hotel (now the Holiday Inn at the Zoo).  From Mick Rock’s fantastic book Moonage Daydream.
  • 1973  1st June Slade
  • 1973  27th September Status Quo
Thank you to Charles Laing for this ticket.
  • 1973  3rd  November  Roxy Music
Thank you to Andy Mitchell for this ticket.
  • 1973  1st December Rory Gallagher, support band Strider
  • 1973  10th December Yes
  • 1973   22nd December Hawkwind
Thank you to Charles Laing for this ticket.
  • 1986  23rd February Steel Pulse (the opening party for Regular using The Empire as a venue)
  • 1986  16th March Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Thank you to Marc Marnie for this pass.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik at the Empire 16th March 1986.  Thank you to Graham MacIndoe for the three pictures above.    ©Graham MacIndoe 1986.
  • 1986  23rd March The Cramps
The Cramps at the Empire 23rd March 1986.  Thank you to Graham MacIndoe for the four pictures above.  ©Graham MacIndoe 1986.
The late great Lux Interior of The Cramps at The Empire Theatre 23rd March 1986.  Thank you to Paul Archibald for this photo.  ©Paul Archibald 1986.
  • 1986  26th April The Waterboys
  • 1986  16th May The Ramones (moved to the Playhouse on the 14th May)
  • 1996  14th July Margarita Pracatan
Thank you to Ian Dunipace for this scan.
The Brass Monkey bar in Drummond Street.  This bar was formerly Stewart’s bar, and was where bands and artists playing the Empire were told to go if they wanted a light refreshment!
The Grave in Piershill Cemetery of The Great Lafayette, and his dog Beauty.  Lafayette died in a fire at the Empire on 9th May 1911.  More can be read on this extraordinary story here.