ON September 30, the OVO Hydro celebrates its 10th anniversary.

The Glasgow Times is marking the milestone with a week of special features dedicated to the famous venue and its impact on the city.


WATCHING the Hydro being built outside her old office window, Jacqueline Elder admits she was in awe of what was taking shape on the banks of the Clyde.

“To be honest, none of us could get our heads round something that was going to be bigger than Hall 4,” she laughs, referring to the former home of big concerts (the really big ones, like Coldplay, and Cliff Richard) in Glasgow.

“When I started at what was then the SECC, the Hydro was a conversation. Then I got to watch it come together. That first spade in the ground - it was really exciting.

“I’m very proud to work at the Hydro. It takes up a lot of my life, but it’s worth it.”

Glasgow Times: Jacqueline backstage at the OVO Hydro, which is celebrating its 10th anniversaryJacqueline backstage at the OVO Hydro, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary (Image: Colin Mearns/Newsquest)

On the way over the vast concourse from the main SEC building to the Hydro - “this all used to be a car park,” marvels Jacqueline - she explains her own connection to the building, from starting in ticketing in 2000, to moving on to event management and into her current role as operational project lead.

“The evolution of the building has been amazing,” she adds. “The Hydro put Glasgow on the map, as far as the big American acts were concerned. Hall 4 was not really on their radar, but as soon as the Hydro opened, they started to flow through the doors.”

Jacqueline grew up in Garrowhill with her sister Lynsey, who now works in events management, and mum Elizabeth.

“My mum is a huge music fan, so she loves that I work here,” she grins. “She’s always been really supportive of our careers.”

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In the course of the last 10 years, Jacqueline has met just about everyone who has performed on the Hydro stage. Some of the wildest and weirdest stories remain firmly off the record, of course, but the last 10 years have been a starry, joy-filled journey, she says, of the quirky and the quite amazing.

There was that time she got to meet Lewis Hamilton’s dog (“a British bulldog - he was here for the Sports Personality of the Year awards, and everyone loved the dog,” she explains), and that day Justin Bieber was playing football in the “bowl” - affectionate term for the Hydro auditorium.

“Oh yes, and Justin Timberlake held a door open for me once,” she says, grinning. “I was just walking back to the office. That was quite surreal.”

She adds: “I think one of the best moments, though, was standing on the floor of the venue, when Rod Stewart came on stage - the very first night, the very first concert. It was amazing.”

Glasgow Times: Beyonce, whose gigs in Glasgow have included the Hydro in 2014Beyonce, whose gigs in Glasgow have included the Hydro in 2014 (Image: Mark Gibson/Newsquest)

There have been many highlights, but as a big Beyonce fan, Jacqueline was particularly delighted when the US superstar booked the Hydro in 2014.

“She was phenomenal,” sighs Jacqueline. “She actually left during rehearsals for her Glasgow gig, to pop down to London and perform at the Brit Awards.”

She adds, with a laugh: “It was quite something to see her on the TV and then just a few hours later, watch her walk back in the door here. We were all still here at midnight, and when she came in, Jay-Z and all her dancers were cheering and applauding. She’s really lovely, she thanked everyone on the team, and was so kind and polite.”

Jacqueline remains tight-lipped about who the real divas are, but admits some of the showbiz riders (requests or demands from the performers) are odd.

“We got asked for a hot tub once, and someone insisted on a new toilet seat,” she says. “Also, they are all obsessed with temperature in the dressing rooms - vents open, vents closed, heating on, heating off…”

She adds: “But I think most people who come really like it here, and most importantly, they feel safe and looked after. That means a lot.”

Under the Hydro’s famous backstage clock - it’s the one all the stars look at, just before they walk on to the stage - Jacqueline pauses.

“I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but I love working here,” she says. “I have made so many friends, had so many life experiences….it’s a great place to work, in a great city.

“Watching it come to life, and being part of it all, has been a phenomenal thing.”