THE FRIDAY FIVE – 9.12.2016

1. Blossoms – Blown Rose
2. Marble Gods – I Remember Xmas
3. The Courteeners – The 17th
4. Elbow – Magnificent (She Says)
5. Dua Lipa – Be The One

Oh, and two words for you – SIMPLE MINDS!!!! Coming to Belfast next June to do an Acoustic gig. Their Acoustic gig for Radio 2 a few weeks back was rather good, as are the snippets of their Acoustic album. If you’re stuck to get me a Christmas present, there’s a hint for you.

Now, to make sure I get a ticket in order to spend the next six months counting down.

THE SOUND OF 2016 : 51-76

51. White Spaces ft Jim Kerr – The Man Who Sold The World
52. Stone Roses – It’s A Beautiful Thing
53. We Are Scientists – Too Late
54. Biffy Clyro – Wolves Of Winter
55. Oasis – Stand By Me (Mustique Demo)
56. Laether Strip – Waterfront
57. Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain
58. Birdy – Keeping You Head Up
59. Madness – Mr Apples
60. The 1975 – Somebody Else
61. Ellie Goulding – Army
62. Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold
63. Simple Minds ft KT Tunstall – Promised You A Miracle
64. Chvrches – Warning Call
65. Tom Odell – Magnetised
66. Nina Nesbitt – Chewing Gum
67. Halsey – New Americana
68. Lorde – Life On Mars?
69. All Saints – One Strike
70. Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend
71. The 1975 – A Change Of Heart
72. Paul Simon – Wristband
73. Blink 182 – Home Is Such A Lonely Place
74. Laura Mvula – Overcome
75. Graham Nash – This Path Tonight

2016 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April 2016 began for me at The Odyssey to see Muse in concert.

The following Saturday, I headed for Seaview to see Linfield lose to Crusaders, a match that killed off their title hopes.

Another concert soon followed, this time it was to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at Ulster Hall.

Back to football, and a double whammy of convincing Linfield wins, over Coleraine and Glentoran.

The match against Coleraine allowed me to check out the facilities in the South Stand for the first time since it was officially opened.

Towards the end of the month, Prince died, and Belfast wasn’t slow in paying tribute, a mural appearing within a day of his death.

I then headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Around that time, I purchased a new camera as my camera was broken beyond repair. I was still getting used to it, so that’s why some photos towards the end of the month are a bit different.

Muse live at The Odyssey

Muse live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

Purple Rain

Purple Rain Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 4.12.2016

Ocean Colour Scene made a long awaited return to Belfast, their first gig in the city since March 2010, to perform their breakthrough album Moseley Shoals in it’s entirety to commemorate the 20th anniversary of it’s release.

I know, i’ve done the maths, recaulculated it and checked my working out, but 1996 was 20 years ago. I’m as shocked as you are.

Album Anniversary Tours is a practice i’m not really a fan of, I think it’s a bit of a nonsense. I like going to gigs and not knowing what is going to be played, hoping to hear my favourite songs and even being disappointed if the band doesn’t play a song I want them to play. It’s a bit boring if you know what is going to be played and in what order.

However, knowing that I would be guaranteed to hear The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train and The Circle made it worth the admission fee.

There was no support act, just a unseen DJ blasting out 90s Hits, to get the crowd in the mood, as the band entered the stage playing a cover of Daytripper by The Beatles, before moving onto the songs from Moseley Shoals, the opening track being The Riverboat Song, with it’s distinctive guitar riff.

The crowd knew every word, Simon Fowler even taking a step back to let them sing one of the verses.

There was a notable absence on stage in the shape of Oscar Harrison, who was suffering from back problems. He missed their recent Spanish shows, and it was anticipated that the Belfast gig would be his comeback.

Unfortunately, it was too soon for him,

It wasn’t the first time he’s had to miss a Belfast gig due to a back injury. I’m going to bore you with an anecdote about the time I met 50% of Ocean Colour Scene and 20% of Oasis.

In late 2001, I was working part-time in a bar in Belfast City Centre. One Wednesday night, I walked past a man who looked like Damon Minchella from Ocean Colour Scene and thought nothing of it. Then, I saw Steve Craddock, and it turned out it actually was Steve and Damon from Ocean Colour Scene.

They had just come from Blackstaff Studios where they had filmed a performance for The John Daly Show. Simon wasn’t there and neither was Oscar. He was replaced by Alan White from Oasis. I met him, Steve and Damon and was chatting to them.

Obviously I end up disappointing people when I tell them that i’ve met somebody from Oasis and it turns out not to be a Gallagher.

Simon told the crowd that Oscar said hi.

He wasn’t the only member of the band who has missed giggs through illness, as Ray Meade, now Bassist as Damon Minchella has since left the band, missed some gigs due to a Collapsed Lung, and this was his comeback.

Having had the spotlights put on the crowd, Simon told the crowd they are beautiful, before adding that they were not as beautiful as the Spanish, with the band having come to Belfast after gigs in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Tony Coote was the Drummer filling in for Oscar, described by Simon as a “Genius” due to learning the setlist inside 45 minutes, though there was one song where Steve Craddock was made hand gestures at him to indicate how he should be holding the drum sticks.

Surprisingly, as a former journalist, Simon Fowler let slip a bit of an exclusive by revealing that Boy George had recorded a duet for Paul Weller’s new album, before then sheepishly and apologetically looking to his bandmate Steve Craddock for letting the info slip.

For those who don’t know, Steve Craddock divides his time between Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller’s backing band, so he would obviously be a good source of information for Paul Weller related news.

There were a few ringers on the set list, including some hits from their follow up album Marchin Already, such as Better Day and Hundred Mile High City.

Better Day is a forgotten classic and my favourite OCS song, so I especially enjoyed getting to hear this live.

We even got treated to Profit In Peaces, as in, it was actually on the setlist and not an impromptu performance like at their last Belfast gig, because a fight had broken out in the middle of the floor while they were performing another song.

The only downside was the sheer volume of smelly tramps in the venue, constantly having to hold my nose to avoid breathing in vapes. Someone needs to tell these cunts that it’s not a competition to see how much and how far you can puff out.

It’s bad enough these cunts ruining outdoor concerts for everyone, now they are determined to ruin indoor concerts for everyone now.

I couldn’t help wonder if Better Day and Hundred Mile High City were a teaser for a 20th anniversary tour for Marchin Already, which was released in 1997.

Though this is Belfast, and with a title like that, there would probably be a resident’s group to protest it.

Just don’t leave it nearly seven years before returning.

Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010 Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square 2007 Photo Album

JACK

AKA ……. Down By The Royal Mail II, Part II.

You may remember a few weeks ago, I blogged about some Wall Art that appeared on a wall in a car park near to the Royal Mail offices in Belfast.

Well, since I posted, an addition to the wall has appeared, a mural of (what I think is) Jack Nicholson.

If it isn’t, feel free to correct me.

I’ll keep you posted if there’s any more additions.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 3-0 CARRICK RANGERS 3.12.2016

Carrick Rangers arrived at Windsor Park to take on a Linfield side looking to keep in touch with Crusaders at the top of the league, but most importantly, get back into second place after being overtaken by Cliftonville who won at Coleraine on Friday night.

It was Carrick who had the first chance of the game when Tiernan McNicholl fired well wide from outside the box.

For the rest of the first-half, the ball would be in Carrick’s half, like a training match between attack and defence, except it was defence who were winning, with Linfield not really creating anything of note.

That was, until Stephen Lowry intercepted a pass and immediately played in Andrew Waterworth who created enough space for him to fire Linfield in front.

More Linfield pressure followed, but they couldn’t get the second goal that would have settled everybody’s nerves, as they went in at half-time 1-0 up.

Linfield started the second-half in search of that second goal, and thought they were going to get it when Paul Smyth got on the end of a Kirk Millar cross, only to fire over from close range.

It was another Millar cross which brought the second goal, a cross which evaded Carrick’s goalkeeper, landing straight at Andrew Waterworth to fire home from close inside the six yard box.

Paul Smyth won possession on the edge of the box, setting himself up for a shot which was saved by Carrick keeper Neeson.

The reprieve was brief for Carrick, as Mark Stafford headed home from the resulting corner.

Stafford enjoys it when Carrick come to Windsor Park, the third successive meeting between the two sides in South Belfast that he has scored.

The bad news for him is, that unless Carrick have a run of form and get into the Top six or the two sides are drawn together in the Irish Cup, they won’t be back at Windsor Park this season.

Stephen Lowry tried to get in on the goalscoring act but his flick from a cross was tipped over.

With the game won, Linfield introduced some substitutes from the bench, Jonny Frazer getting rewarded for his hat-trick for the Swifts against Crumlin Star on Monday night.

Frazer looked like he was going to create a forth goal for Linfield but fellow sub Aaron Burns didn’t gamble on his low cross across the penalty area.

Up next, is a trip to managerless Ards, who lost 6-1 to Linfield last Tuesday in the County Antrim Shield.

Surprisingly, this game will be Linfield’s first competitive visit to Clandeboye Park in almost eight years. Looking forward to it. Without sounding arrogant, it’s a game Linfield should win.

In terms of the title race, it’s a must win game, to keep in touch with those above and not to give those below an opportunity to overtake, especially as Cliftonville have a generous run of games coming up.

The league table looking a lot better for Linfield today with the gap at the top cut to five points following Crusaders draw with Glentoran.

I’d planned on getting this blog published before the Irish Cup draw. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a big one – literally, meaning I missed out on my usual hope of a lower league team away, ideally a ground i’ve never been to or haven’t been to for a while.

Matching that criteria would be Loughgall, Crewe United, Knockbreda or Annagh United.

Glentoran away on 7th January can be put to one side for now, there’s far too many games between now and then.

Four games remaining for Linfield in 2016. Win all four of them and the worst situation is that they’ll be going into 2017 just two points off the top of the league.

It’s been a good week for Linfield, three wins and fourteen goals, through to a cup final and the reserves getting to the Steel and Sons Cup Final, to face Dundela.

That was a game i’d been planning on going to as it was on the more convenient date of Christmas Eve, Linfield being in it is a bonus.

Hopefully, the first of many silverware this season.

Photo Album

PRIMAL SCREAM – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 1.12.2016

Never have I demanded a band entertain me as much as when Primal Scream brought some Chaosmosis to The Limelight, having been loaded (no pun intended) with the cold and should probably have stayed in the house, but having paid for a ticket, it would have been a waste not to go.

One definite plus point was the early stage time, advertised as 8.15pm but closer to 8.20pm. The last time they played The Limelight, they went on stage at about 8.30pm, catching a lot of people out.

They opened with a heavy guitar version of Moving On Up in comparison with the recorded version in what was an unsuprisingly hits heavy setlist.

There were new songs on the setlist with singles from new album Chaosmosis such as 100% Or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Feeling Like A Demon Again already being popular live songs and standing up against their classics.

It was hard to make out Bobby Gillespie when he spoke between songs, the only thing I could make out was that they made an album in Tennessee in the early 90s.

Gillespie spent most of the gig high fiving the front rows, prompting the smelliest woman in history to spend a few minutes climbing over me to try and get a high five which never came.

One of the highlights of any Primal Scream gig is Loaded, and the introduction which people instantly know what it is when they hear the words “Just what is it that you want?”

The answer, was to get down in Belfast Town apparantly, with Country Girl being changed to Belfast Girl. A cynical attempt to curry favour with the crowd, not that they needed to resort to such tactics.

As the band left the stage, I managed to be in the lucky position of cleanly catching a playlist that was thrown into the crowd. Somebody offered me 75p for it on my way out.

There’s no immediate Northern Ireland gig on the horizon for Primal Scream but there is a headline slot at Bundoran Sea Sessions in Donegal next summer.

Very very tempting.

Photo Album

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013 Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 WEST HAM UNITED 27.11.2016

Having gone to my first game of the season at Old Trafford against Feyenoord, it wasn’t long to wait for my second game, just three days later, as West Ham visited in the League.

I’d waited until the UEFA Cup Group Stage draw was done and hoped for a double header, and got lucky with this one.

Too many dropped points, especially in drawn games at Old Trafford, meant this was a must-win game for United, especially with Spurs losing the day before, presenting United with an opportunity to close the gap on the side in 5th, especially as they visit Old Trafford in mid December.

It was West Ham who were straight on the attack, winning a soft free-kick in a wide position. It all looked so sluggish from United, and it continued when Diafra Sakho got to the ball from that free-kick in front of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to head home.

The was not the start United needed, especially against a side they had only beaten once in their last five meetings.

United responded eventually, their first shot on goal came from Juan Mata.

The pressure built up, and an equaliser came when Ibrahomovic made up for his shoddy defending by flicking hom a Paul Pogba through ball.

Pogba’s next involvement came when the referee booked him for deeming to have dived, which resulted in Jose Mourinho beiung sent to the stand for kicking a water bottle.

Mourinho’s departue didn’t affect United, as they had chances to go in front. Rashford having a shot saved while put through, and Jesse Lingard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic having shots blocked.

More chances came, with Rooney and Lingard having shots saved before Lingard had a goal disallowed for offside.

It looked like being one of those days for United, as West Ham seemed to get bodies in the road every time the ball was in their penalty area.

As much as I enjoyed being able to do a Thursday-Sunday double header, it’s not something i’m planning on doing next season. I’d rather United be playing their European matches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last season, I made my first trip of the season to Old Trafford in November and things were going fine, but an awful December saw their season in tatters by the time I visited again in late January.

This season, i’m due back at Old Trafford in late January for the League match against Hull. Hopefully, there’ll be a reversal in fortunes and the league table will have a better look to it.

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BURY 2-3 MILLWALL 26.11.2016

AKA …….. Two postponements in one day.

Taking in two United matches and having a spare Saturday afternoon in the North-West of England, that could only have meant one thing ……. to go and see in another local game while I was there, ideally at a ground i’ve never been to before.

I had a look at the fixture lists and one game stood out, Oldham v Peterborough. It was mainly due to both clubs having a Northern Ireland connnection.

Both managers (Steven Robinson and Grant McCann) are former Northern Ireland players, with Robinson being part of the coaching staff at Euro 2016.

On the playing staff, there were Northern Ireland players who began their careers with Irish League clubs, Oldham boasting Cameron Dummigan (Cliftonville), Ryan McLaughlin (Glenavon), Carl Winchester (Linfield) as well as Billy McKay (never played for an Irish League club).

Peterborough count boast Michael Smith (Ballyclare Comrades and Ballymena United) but not Joe Gormley (Cliftonville) who is out on loan to St Johnstone.

And as a bonus, tickets were being offered at a discount. I think we have a winner here folks.

I headed to Boundary Park around lunchtime, the plan being to get some lunch near the ground, I had a check on my phone to see if the game was still on.

Manchester was frosty on the Saturday morning, so a postponement was a possibility. The game was on when I boarded the tram at Victoria, but off when I checked Twitter upon getting off in Oldham.

So a change of plan then.

As a side note, the game has been rearranged for Tuesday 24th January 2017. Frustratingly, i’m in Manchester for the Hull City game (League match, not the League Cup Semi-Final) the following week.

When getting the tram, there were a couple of FC United fans who got on and disembarked at Moston/Newton Heath.

I knew their ground is in Moston, having visited it when it was still a work in progress when I was over for a match in November 2014.

FC United were at home in the FA Trophy, and it’s on the Metrolink route back to the City Centre. Well, I might as well head to Broadhurst Park.

Broadhurst Park is a ground I have noted that I want to visit, so I might as well make the most of this opportunity.

I arrived and checked and followed the directions on the club’s website, and checked Twitter to see if the game was still on. It was, but only just, as there was a pitch inspection pending.

So, I waited outside the ground for confirmation that the game was on before entering. Just after 2pm, I saw supporters leaving the ground and steward shouting “MATCH OFF!! MATCH OFF!!”, confirming what I was already suspecting.

There wasn’t a lot of football in the North West that day.

By this point, I was determined to see some football. So, I decided to brave negotiating the Metrolink to get to Bury for their match against Millwall, getting a taxi from the station to the ground for a fiver (you can barely get down the street for a fiver in Belfast) and only missing the first five minutes.

In the early months of the season, this looked like it would be a top of the table clash, but a run of nine successive defeats (fourteen without a win in all competitions, two draws and twelve defeats) saw Bury hover just above the relegation zone and manager David Flitcroft leave the club, while Millwall were in a traffic jam of clubs outside the play-offs.

And despite not getting to Boundary Park, there would be some Northern Ireland interest in the game in the shape of Shane Ferguson, who was involved in most of Millwall’s attacks in the first-half.

One of those attacks saw a mid air collision result in what looked like a Bury free-kick. As the game was stopped, I decided to check Irish League scores on my phone. I was surprised to hear howls of derision from the crowd as the referee awarded a penalty to Millwall.

Not quite, as the referee consulted with the linesman, and he reversed the decision to applause from the Bury fans. Football fans can be so fickle.

Neither side were on top in the first-half with no real attacking threat. Bury’s cause wasn’t helped by poor decision making when on the attack.

Just after the hour, Bury took the lead when a James Vaughan header hit the bar and went in off the keeper after hitting the bar. Finally, a break for Bury.

Bury were now on the up, and soon made it 2-0 when Vaughan was played through, and showed the type of finish that saw him playing in the Premier League at 16.

It was all going well Bury, too well, and they were brought back down to earth when Niall Maher handled a goalbound shot on the line, with the double whammy of a penalty and a red card.

The penalty was converted by Shaun Williams, prompting an inevitable melee in the goalmouth as Milwall players tried to grab the ball to restart the game, the referee booking a player from each side at the end of it.

The game had now changed and the impetus was with Millwall, who were applying all the pressure while Bury were defending.

The inevitable equaliser came when Callum Butcher headed home from a corner on 85 minutes. Bury were dead on their feet. Supporters around me had seen enough and headed for the exits.

There was still time for a winner, and Millwall knew it. They got it in injury time when Aiden O’Brien got on the end of a cross. Like the equaliser a few minutes earlier, there was an exodus around me, but greater in numbers this time.

A rather entertaining game that made it worthwhile making the dash from not one, but two postponed matches.

Broadhurst Park

Photo Album

FEYENOORD STICKERS

Got ……. Got …….. Need.

It’s been a while since i’ve done a sticker blog, but Feyenoord fans left so many in Manchester while visiting for their UEFA Cup tie at Old Trafford, it made it impossible not to do one.

Now, has anybody got a Gaston Taument shiney?

Photo Album