MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL, 26.5.2010

On Wednesday night, I took a trip to Mandela Hall to see Marina and the Diamonds.

Prior to getting tickets for Echo and the Bunnymen, this was earmarked to be my STLFTEM for May.

I’d heard snippets of songs, and knew the hit single, ‘Hollywood’, so decided to give her a try, as it was only £10.

She was supported by a singer called ‘Spark‘, who was excellent, if a little ‘Mini Marina’ in terms of sound and image.

It was disappointing though, that no CD was available to purchase after the show. I shall be keeping an eye out for any releases by her. Trust me, it will be well worth it.

Marina was quite late getting on stage, in true showbusiness style, keeping the crowd waiting, before making a grand entrance, as the video projector on stage projected James Bond-esque images of her, and then leading straight into ‘Mowgli’s Road

Unsurprisingly, with only one album to her name, it wasn’t going to be a long concert, but what it lack in time, it made up for in electricity and excitement.

Mandela Hall is one of my favourite concert venues, but I felt it was limiting to the onstage performance, that it would work so much better in a larger venue.

If there’s any justice, Marina will soon be a big enough artist to play such venues.

Got some photos from the concert, which I was surprisingly impressed with, as I was quite late getting to the venue, and didn’t get as close to the stage as I wanted to.

Twitpic

Flickr

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OUT OF SEASON ALL YEAR AROUND

Planet football may be in that awkward phase inbetween the end of the club season and the start of the World Cup, but that hasn’t stopped BBCNI and UTV from excelling in their poor football coverage.

Granted, we are at the time of year where football stories are thin on the ground, but sometimes, it would probably be better to have nothing on the news than stories that are irrelevant.

The week began with UTV’s Neil Brittain rather excitedly interviewing Nacho Novo. Yes, thee Nacho Novo. You know, the Spanish footballer who plays for a team in Scotland.

This is exactly what annoys local football fans. There’s not much point in our local broadcasters increasing their football coverage, if it’s going to be irrelevant to their remit.

Granted, there may be a lot of Rangers and Celtic fans in Northern Ireland, but covering the goings on in Glasgow isn’t the job of BBCNI or UTV, even if a tenuous mention of the Northern Ireland stars on the payroll of both clubs is mentioned.

The needs of Rangers and Celtic (and indeed fans of English Premiership clubs) fans are well serviced by national media outlets, there’s nothing that our local media can offer to the table.

It’s a sad statement of affairs that our local media will deem a personal appearance by a sporting personality (in some cases, not from Northern Ireland, or with no link whatsoever to Northern Ireland) to Northern Ireland (and in some cases, the Republic of Ireland) as more worthy than an actual sporting event.

Our broadcasters need to realise, that with very little time within the scheduled 30 minutes of the news bulletin, sports need to be informative and incisive.

Generic voxpops with a sporting personality going through the motions as they scribble their name for the umpteenth time that day are not incisive and informative.

With the Northern Ireland football team currently on an end of season tour in America, the 6.30pm kick-off caused a problem for our broacasters on Wednesday night, which they actually coped well with, with UTV doing a brief preview and BBC giving the latest score, and showing some of the best moments of the first 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, the BBC let themselves down by not even bothering to read out the score, or even acknowledge the game took place, in a shortened down sports round-up, to make way for a special report about the PSNI’s new ‘Ice Cream Squad

It couldn’t be a rights issue (the game was broadcast on Setanta) as Newsline has bought pictures from other broadcasters for their reports, indeed, buying picture from Sky the previous night for their report into the Republic of Ireland’s match against Paraguay.

Come Friday night, both broadcasters disappointingly gave Northern Ireland’s match second billing to that of the Republic of Ireland, again, following the example of their Glasgow obsession by trying to cater for a market that is already catered for by others, in this case, RTE and Sky.

Just because the football season may be over, doesn’t mean local viewers should have to tolerate slipping of standards.

BELSONIC

With an impending Bebogeddon, i’ve been periodically spending the last couple of weeks saving some of the photos worth keeping, in order to transfer them elsewhere, possibly to Myspace.

I would have committed Bebocide a long time ago if it wasn’t for the photographs saved on it, as i’ve been primarily using the site for at least 18 months for photo storage.

One of the photo albums I hoked through was one titled ‘Belsonic 2008‘, quite apt, as this Thursday, sees the official press launch of the 2010 event, which is rumoured to be headlined by Paul Weller.

Please let it be so. The word ‘Obsession’ doesn’t even come close to describing how much I love the music of Paul Weller.

I wasn’t at Belsonic last year as I was in Edinburgh, so 2008 is the only one i’ve been to.

Headlining that year, was The Enemy and Reverend and the Makers. Both bands were excellent that night.

That night, I managed to break my camera when a drunk twat barged into me. Sadly, the camera was beyond repair and I had to buy on on the Friday very quickly as I was heading to England on the Saturday.

Despite having been to concerts at Custom House Square, the venue took a lot of getting used to in comparison with the large and spacious venue that was used it’s predecessor, Tennent’s Vital.

With respect to The Enemy and Dizzee Rascal, one thing that Tennent’s Vital always had over Belsonic was a marquee headliner, who could sell out an outdoor show on their own merit, so the rumoured booking of Weller is a massive boost to the event, as it looks to hopefully outlive the 5 years that Tennent’s Vital was in Belfast for.

I’d been to 3 Tennent’s Vitals during it’s lifespan, in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

Working in a bar at the time of the 2002 and 2005 events, it was great for me as i’d managed to get my hands on an unreal amount of promotional goodies.

On the first night of the 2002 event, which was headlined by Fatboy Slim, Oasis were playing a massive outdoor show at Prehen Park in Derry.

My brother was getting married that day, so I didn’t even get the option to have to choose, as my presence was required elsewhere.

I’d attended the second night with a friend, with Idlewild and Badly Drawn Boy on the support slot, headlined by Primal Scream, who i’d previously seen at T in the Park weeks earlier.

They were electrifying on both occasions.

I remember looking at the photos at the time of Belsonic 2008 and hating them, but looking back at them last weekend, i’d re-evaluated some of them. Not great, but not as bad as i’d thought.

Jon McClure from Reverend and the Makers is a dream for an amateur photographer. An amazing performer in an amazing band, who knows how to work the crowd.

I’m hoping come late August to be training my camera on the one and only Paul Weller.

Review Of Belsonic 2008, August 2008

FOUR FOUR TWO PHOTO COMPETITION

Whilst browsing through the current edition of Four Four Two, I saw an advert for a football photography competition being sponsored by the magazine.

Now, I like football, and I like photography, so entering this is a bit of a no-brainer.

The competition is divided into two categories, so i’ll be entering the amateur competition.

I had some photos lined up in mind, but a quick look at the rules saw that photographs had to have been taken between August 2009 and July 2010, which will rule out some photos I had in mind.

I’m going to put some photos forward and ask for feedback before deciding which pictures to enter. Unsurprisingly, most of these photos will be from Linfield matches.

The first photo is from a pre-season friendly between Dunmurry Young Men and Linfield.

The venue was pretty basic, but the closesness to the pitch and the late evening light (If I remember correctly, the kick-off was 7pm, in order to get the game finished before nightfall) was a great opportunity for amateur photography, especially as the game was a routine victory for Linfield with Paul Munster’s 4 goal haul being overshadowed by a serious injury to Curtis Allen.

The season (falsely) started at Coleraine the following weekened. The traffic heading to Coleraine that day was so bad I only made it into the ground at 3.40pm.

At 3.20pm, being stuck in a trafficjam somewhere in Rasharkin and hearing that Coleraine had just went 2-0 up, the temptation to try and turn around and head home was there.

Coleraine is a ground which is friendly to amateur photographers, and I managed to get one of an attentive crowd and pitchside photographer training their eyes on the action taking place on the pitch.

In September, I attended the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, and managed to blag myself some pitchside seats, which was a great assistance for amateur photography.

The first photo from that day was taken pre-match, as United fans unfurled a banner parodying a billboard unveiled by City to commemorate the signing of Carlos Tevez.

The second photo came right at the end, as United players and fans celebrate Michael Owen’s 90th minute winner

There’s just something about the photo which makes it great, that you can see the emotion of what victory means on Derby Day.

Moving on to the biggest derby in world football, I managed to get one well composed of a photographer getting a photo of Linfield players celebrating Mark Miskimmin’s goal against Glentoran.

November saw Linfield make trips to Newry, Portadown and Dungannon. Of the photos that were taken at these three games, my favourite was the one of Billy Joe Burns and Michael Gault battling for possession against Dungannon Swifts at a fog-covered Stangmore Park.

Come January, incliment weather meant that the Irish League was now having a Bundesliga style winter break.

I made the most of the weather to get some photos of Windsor Park covered in snow, a shot I had always been wanting to get.

Come April, the weather had improved and so had Linfield’s results. I headed to Dublin for a weekend for the Setanta Cup Semi-final against Bohemians, taking in St Patrick’s Athletic v Sporting Fingal as well.

My final favourite photo of the season came after the match against Cliftonville when Linfield clinched the title.

Phil Lowry is being interviewed by a radio reporter, and the floodlights and the composition just works for me.

Thanks for having a wee look through my photo journey of the 2009-2010 season, feel free to offer feedback and vote for which photo(s) I should enter.

VOTE FOR THE PARTY PARTY

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you will have been aware that last week was the UK’s General Election.

One of the most iconic political images in recent years is the ‘Obama Hope‘ image which has become imitated and parodied in equal measure.

And Belfast is no different as someone has put up posters in Botanic of a man holding a pint of Guinness with the tagline “PARTY”

Well, they certainly know their market and how to appeal to voters.

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE

As I was getting a train to Dublin last month, I picked up a booklet advertising the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival as reading material to pass the time on the journey.

When browsing, I saw that Echo and the Bunnymen would be performing at the festival, and that tickets would only cost £10. This was a no-brainer, not even worth thinking about.

Upon my return to Belfast, I immediately went and purchased a ticket.

Apologies for the delay in posting this blog, as technical glitches with Twitpic meant I wasn’t able to get photos uploaded for ages.

I’d been to Custom House Square for concerts. It doesn’t take a lot to fill it, and if you can get it full, it makes for a good concert.

To my surprise, the concert was to take place in a indoor marquee rather than an open air concert which usually takes place at this venue.

Support was provided by appropriately named local act Joe Echo. He was OK, nothing special. Can’t say I was going to rush to buy his CD after the concert.

I love Echo and the Bunnymen, and I mean, I love Echo and the Bunnymen.

I actually got into the band in 1997 with their ‘Evergreen‘ album and their comeback hit ‘Nothing Lasts Forever

I’d never actually heard of them and thought they were a new act, not realising that they were releasing their first new material in nearly a decade after reforming.

As a result, I purchased their Best Of album ‘Ballyhoo‘, and fell more in love with them, especially songs like ‘The Cutter‘, ‘Killing Moon‘ and ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses

The setlist for this concert was mainly drawn from their 80s singles, with ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ being the only song since their 1997 reformation being included on the setlist, which is a pity as ‘What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?‘ (1999) and ‘Flowers‘ (2001) have some excellent songs on it.

The band are very much these days a two piece of Ian McCullough and Will Sergeant (Les Pattison left the band and Pete De Frietas died in 1989) and assembled backing musicians.

Singer McCullough is the leader of the band and his influence his felt on stage as his berating of backing musicians usually results in them doing what he wants.

The phrase “Less is more” best describes McCullough’s on stage performance as he just sings. No dancing or anything else, just singing.

At times, he was off-key and out of tune, but it was part of the charm of the performance. It’s not X-Factor you know.

The band were electrifying, and the lack of lighting in the venue meant there was an element of mystery surrounding their performance.

After leaving to a rapturous reception, the band returned to do an encore, performing ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, before merging it into a cover of ‘Walk On The Wildside’, alternation customised lyrics of “Hey babe, take a walk on the Merseyside” and “Hey Belfast, take a walk on the wild side” and then merging into a cover of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ by The Beatles.

A tenner well spent.

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Flickr

LINFIELD 2-1 PORTADOWN 8.5.2010

Apologies for being a few days late with this. Unfortunately, Twitpic was taking a long time to upload the photos.

Unsurprisingly, I attended the Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park between Linfield and Portadown. Even more unsurprisingly, I was very happy with the full-time result.

It was a crazy opening ten minutes which ultimately won it for Linfield. After ten minutes, it looked like it was going to be a rout, after fourty-five, I was grateful to be going in 2-1 up, with Portadown doing enough to go in level, possibly even ahead.

I had a good view of the Portadown goal, but in reality didn’t see a lot. My first reaction was that it was a goal, but there was part of the ball over the line, but i’m not sure if it was enough for a goal to be given.

TV replays proved inconclusive, which counters any arguement for TV replays in contentious decisions.

Thankfully, it didn’t turn out to be important, but it did change the flow of the game as it enabled Portadown to get momentum which led to their dominance in the second-half of the first-half.

Linfield controlled the game in the second-half, and (just about) did enough to win.

A sunny day, big crowd and a cup win – not a lot to complain about.

It wouldn’t be a Linfield match without having something to complain about. If they were going to score two goals early on, could they not have attacked The Kop so I could have got some good photos?

Twitpics

2007 Cup Final

2008 Cup Final

2009 Cup Final

Flickr

NERINA PALLOT – LIVE AT AUNTIE ANNIE’S

Had a good start to the week by winning tickets to see Nerina Pallot at Auntie Annie’s.

I’ve been a fan of hers since 2001 with her criminally under-rated debut album ‘Dear Frustrated Superstar’, which spawned the excellent singles ‘Patience’ and ‘Alien

She is probably best known for her 2006 hit ‘Everybody’s Going To War‘ though.

She eventually got round to releasing a follow-up album last year. That’s 3 albums in 8 years. What she lacks in quantity, she makes up in quality.

The support came from a local singer called John D’arcy who i’d never heard of but was very impressed with his witty tales of everyday life, set only to an acoustic guitar. Got his CD afterwards and it is currently on constant repeat in the car.

This was the first time i’d been to a concert at Auntie Annie’s and I didn’t know what to expect, but I enjoyed the intimate nature of the venue, even though the lighting was a nightmare for an amateur photographer.

Nerina came on stage with no bacing band, swapping between her guitar and piano, delivering an endless medly of beautiful songs sung beautifully.

Like John Darcy before her, she entertained the audience with the stories behind the song, moaning about sharing a hotel with Rugby players, visiting a zoo, not visiting Belfast enough and Arsenal getting beat by Blackburn Rovers.

The only complaint, was that ‘Alien’ wasn’t played. I know it sounds a common theme of concerts that I complain about what songs aren’t played, but I can’t help it.

By rights, Nerina Pallot should be playing bigger venues than Auntie Annie’s, but the smaller, more intimate, venue worked so well.

Go see live, and go buy her back catalogue.

More (not so good quality) pictures