THE FRIDAY FIVE – 29.7.2016

1. Oasis – D’You Know What I Mean? (NG’s 2016 Rethink)
2. Blink 182 – Bored To Death
3. Bastille – Good Grief
4. Chvrches ft Hayley Williams – Bury It
5. Kaiser Chiefs – Parachute

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HARLAND AND WOLFF WELDERS 1-5 LINFIELD 21.7.2016

Linfield had hoped to be in European action last night, but it was instead Cork City who were hosting (and beating) Swedish side Hacken.

As a result, Linfield made the trip to Tillysburn Park for the first time since 2012, just 48 hours after their last visit to East Belfast, to face Dundela.

With that in mind, there were some changes, but not the wholesale changes that perhaps might have been expected, with Jamie Mulgrew, Ross Gaynor, Jimmy Callacher, Kirk Millar and Reece Glendenning starting for the 2nd time in 48 hours.

There was also a start for Ross Clarke, who came on as a substitute against Dundela, scoring a goal, as he continues his return from after missing most of last season through injury.

It was Welders who had the first chance, with Roy Carroll having to rush out of his goal to smother the ball as an attacker ran through.

Carroll was vocal throughout the game, organising his defence and dictating their positioning.

Up front, Michael McLellan, against the club he left in January, and Adam Salley were given a chance to impress up front. Neither really did.

It was surprising that Aaron Duke wasn’t involved after his trial game on Tuesday, even off the bench, considering that other players who played on Tuesday played last night.

Ross Clarke put Linfield 1-0 up from a free-kick after a foul on Ross Gaynor.

Clarke was central to most of Linfield’s attacking play.

A foul on him which looked like a penalty to me but was awarded as a free-kick on the edge of the box resulted in Linfield’s second goal as he fired in his second free-kick of the night, and third of the week.

Clarke left the pitch due to injury before the end of the first-half. A concern, after his injury problems last season.

If people thought that Linfield’s attacking threat would be diminished, they were wrong, as Paul Smyth took his place.

Smyth picked up where he left off on Tuesday night against Dundela.

Aaron Burns was also introduced off the bench, with both him and Smyth adding quickfire goals midway through the second-half the secure the win for Linfield, giving them a 4-0 ;ead.

Paul Smyth continued to run the show, the centre point for most of Linfield’s attacking.

A foul on him towards the end won a (admittedly soft) penalty.

Smyth took the penalty, despite Aaron Burns intentions. There wasn’t even a game of rock-scissors-paper to decide who took it like Burns and Gaynor had at Warrenpoint in March.

Smyth justified the decision to let him take the penalty to make it 5-0 to Linfield.

Despite having a commanding lead, Roy Carroll could be heard screaming “CLEAN SHEET!!! CLEAN SHEET!!” at his defence. He didn’t get the clean sheet he wanted as Welders pulled a goal back to make it 5-1.

There are still games at Tullyvallen and Distillery to come. Unless another game is arranged in the final week, this will have been my last pre-season game for this year.

It’s now just over two weeks until the main event starts, and the fixture computer has given Linfield a trip to Ballinamallard on the opening day. It’s a trip Linfield usually seem to make in the opening months of the season.

Three points and sunshine would be nice.

But most importantly, three points.

Photo Album

Harland and Wolff Welders v Linfield 2012

DUNDELA 1-3 LINFIELD 19.7.2016

Out of Europe, Linfield quickly plugged the gap in their diary by arranging a series of away friendlies as they look to get ready for the start of the new league season on August 6th.

One of those friendlies, was a short trip to East Belfast to face Dundela. It was my first pre-season game. I’d hoped that would be at Larne last week, but the fact the last train for Belfast left during the game ruined that plan.

It was my first visit to Wilgar Park since 2005, and fans attending were treated to a strong team. It wasn’t a full strength team, but I had heard of ten players in the starting eleven.

The one player I hadn’t heard of was Number 16, a trialist. It turned out his name was Aaron Duke, a 20 year old striker from Lisburn last on the books of Dundee United. He was to endure a mixed evening.

Linfield went on the attack in the opening minutes, with Paul Smyth getting in behind Dundela’s defence and firing into the side netting from a wide angle.

It was no surprise to anybody that Linfield took the lead after 13 minutes. It was even less of a surprise that the goal game from Paul Smyth. It was a header from a Ross Gaynor cross.

Smyth was involved in all of Linfield’s attacking play, he was running show.

His strike partner Duke, endured a frustrating evening, but he did get a reward for his persistence.

He shot wide when he could have scored, then he headed against the top of the crossbar. It looked like it wasn’t going to be his night.

Eventually, he made it 2-0 after a cross from Kirk Millar. Fittingly, even his goal came after he had a shot saved, scoring the rebound.

Most of the game was attack v defence, with Linfield doing the attacking.

Early in the second-half, Aaron Burns went close, while Jimmy Callacher had an overhead kick saved.

The match looked like being a non event, until Ross Glendenning let a Scott Collins shot under his body.

Suddenly, the match became competitive when it should have been long put to bed.

Despite this, Linfield introduced substitutes from the bench. The most effective sub was Ross Clarke, desperate to make up for lost time after a year out through injury.

Clarke fired home a low free-kick from the edge of the box to make it 3-1 and secure the win for Linfield.

Up next, another trip to East Belfast to take on Harland and Wolff Welders. It will be my first visit there since 2012. Linfield lost 1-0 there and it set the tone for when the season finally kicked-off.

Hopefully, it will be a bit better this time around.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 15.7.2016

1. Chvrches ft Hayley Williams – Bury It
2. Primal Scream – 100% Or Nothing
3. Bastille – Good Grief
4. Charles Trenet – La Mer
5. Izzy Bizu & the BB Orchestra – La Foule

So, yesterday was Bastille day. I could do a chart of songs by the band Bastille, but they’re already on the main chart. How about a French Top Five instead?

FIVE SONGS BY FRENCH ACTS

1. Daft Punk – Da Funk
2. Desireless – Voyage Voyage
3. Air – Sexy Boy
4. Christine and the Queens – Tilted
5. Justice – D.A.N.C.E

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 8.7.2016

1. Bastille – Good Grief
2. Two Door Cinema Club – Are We Ready? (Wreck)
3. Oasis – Half The World Away
4. Walking On Cars – Catch Me If You Can
5. Kylie Minogue – This Wheel’s On Fire

First of all, an apology. Or rather, two apologies.

Because I posted the Half-Term Half Century last Friday, meaning there was no Friday Five, and thus, no chart to celebrate Canada Day or Independence Day. Sorry Canada and America.

Better later than never I guess.

FIVE SONGS BY CANADIAN ARTISTS

1. Feist – 1, 2, 3, 4
2. Tegan and Sara – Closer
3. Celine Dion – It’s All Coming Back To Me
4. Carly Rae Jepsen – Run Away With Me
5. Arcade Fire – Wake Up

PS : It falls on the same day as Dan Aykroyd’s birthday. It should really be called Danada Day

FIVE SONGS BY AMERICAN ARTISTS

1. Prince – Gold
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down On The Corner
3. Tom Petty – Freefallin
4. REM – Orange Crush
5. Katy Perry – Hot n Cold

The Limelight have had a good week of announcing gigs for the later part of the year, with Feeder, Cast and Ocean Colour Scene all lined up.

Best of all, they’ve even got a gig by AC/DC.

Oh wait, sorry, it’s ABC. Misread the listings. Still, that’s good.

Here are charts to get you in the mood for Cast and Ocean Colour Scene.

FIVE SONGS BY CAST

1. Finetime
2. Flying
3. Alright
4. Sandstorm
5. Beat Mama

FIVE SONGS BY OCEAN COLOUR SCENE

1. The Circle
2. Better Day
3. The Riverboat Song
4. The Day We Caught The Train
5. July

LINFIELD 0-1 CORK CITY 30.6.2016

Just like Christmas advertising, it feels like the early rounds of European competition get earlier and earlier each year. It was June 30th for crying out loud. Unless there’s a dramatic run of postponements in the Winter months, it will mean that Linfield will have played in every month of 2016.

The opposition, were the closest team they could face – Cork City, only the 266 miles away.

Both teams were hoping to secure a trip to Sweden. That’s the more modest ambition of a 2nd Round tie against BK Hacken, rather than the Final in Stockholm.

Cork had the better of the early exchanges and got the first shot on goal when Steven Dooley fired into the side netting.

Linfield were able to see off the danger in those opening moments, but they were having to get bodies in the way.

Eventually, Linfield got more into it, causing problems for Cork from a series of set pieces.

In fact, Cork caused problems for themselves when Karl Sheppard almost headed into his own net, forcing goalkeeper Mark McNulty to tip it over the bar.

McNulty saw himself as a showman, even standing on the halfway line when Cork attack. Sadly, Linfield didn’t get the chance to make him pay for his exhuberence.

Paul Smyth had the best of Linfield’s chances, heading over from close range after a flick-on.

Picking up from last season, Smyth was the focal point of Linfield’s attacks, forcing Cork into cynical fouls as the only way to stop him.

The half-time whistle blew and Linfield were holding their own. Neither side were dominating.

Just after the hour, Cork got a penalty for a foul by Stephen Lowry. It was a stupid tackle to make on a wet pitch when the Cork player was going away from goal.

Roy Carroll, making his Linfield debut just five days after being on the bench for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016, had saved a penalty in two of his last three appearances at Windsor Park.

It wasn’t to be a hat-trick for Carroll as Sean Maguire made it 1-0 to Cork.

In the immediate aftermath of that goal, it looked like Cork were going to get a second goal.

Stephen Lowry atoned for conceding the penalty by heading off the line when a goal seemed certain.

Paul Smyth was surprisingly substituted as Linfield chased an equaliser. Ironically, just after he was fouled.

For what it’s worth, no pun intended, but I would have had Michael McLellan on as a sub to bring some fresh impetus to Linfield’s attacking play, especially as Andrew Waterworth was struggling on his own.

Linfield were able to stop Cork getting a second, but unfortunately, Cork were able to stop Linfield getting an equaliser.

It was an awful game were neither team really looked like scoring in open play, with the only goal coming via a penalty.

Not that Cork will care. I know I wouldn’t be caring if Linfield were on the right side of a 1-0 scoreline.

Sadly, a Linfield supporter died at the ground after taking ill when the teams were warming up, just two weeks after a Northern Ireland supporter died at the match against Ukraine, and just nine months after a Linfield supporter died at a match last season.

With regards to the second-leg, i’m still not sure wether to go. I’m looking at travel and accommodation at the moment, but still non committal.

Cork is a city I would love to visit, and have had it in the back of my mind to go. It’s hard to get a decent hotel price at short notice though. I have been to Cork before, in 1999.

There is an event in Cork I always keep an eye out for the line-up, Live at the Marquee. It’s a Cork version of Belsonic, set in a tent in Cork’s docks.

The line-up generally falls into two categories, popular Irish acts (Christy Moore, Damien Rice, The Coronas) and acts who can flog a Greatest Hits Set.

This year’s line-up is awful, to be honest.

I’ve always hoped to have a line-up with two decent gigs on successive nights, and then fit a Cork City and/or Cobh Ramblers match in while i’m there.

Maybe in 2017.

If I don’t go to Cork next week, there is still one other avenue for an international away day for Linfield, as they’ll be joining the Scottish Challenge Cup at the 4th Round stage in November. I’ll be keeping an eye out on seeing if Linfield can get a decent (and easy to get to) away day.

In terms of Manchester United games, i’ve already booked to go to the home game against Hull City on Wednesday 1st February 2017, doing Tuesday to Thursday travel.

On the Tuesday, i’m hoping to go to a game in the North-West of England on the Tuesday night. There’s no League One or League Two games scheduled (postponements and rearrangements could see some be played that night)

There is a full Championship fixture list, including Wigan Athletic v Norwich, and get to see the famous and almost mythical Will Grigg (‘s On Fire, your defence is terrified) in the flesh.

……. and then Zlatan the next day. Oh yes!!

Hopefully, he does better than when I saw him in Euro 2016. Even though he had a rubbish game, he still set up a goal.

Once the UEFA Cup Group Stage draw is done, i’ll see if I can get a decent price to go Thursday-Monday and take in two home games, as well as a game in North-West England on the Saturday afternoon.

Ideally, not on Matchday 6, as it would mean i’ll have to miss Cast’s gig at The Limelight in December,

A 1-0 home defeat isn’t ideal, but it is retrievable.

June might have only just finished, but the 2016-2017 is already in full swing.

Hopefully, it will involve Linfield v BK Hacken in a few weeks.

Photo Album

STEREOPHONICS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 29.6.2016

Stereophonics arrived in Belfast recently to headline Belsonic for a third time. They weren’t quite the first act to do that, both Biffy Clyro and David Guetta had beaten them to that by a matter of days.

Support came from The Vaccines, a band who i’ve been a fan of for a long time but had never seen live, so getting two bands for the price of one was very welcome.

Their set full of energy and madness, everything i’d expected from The Vaccines. That’s not a pun by the way. If you didn’t already know, their debut album is called What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?

Fans were treated to hits such as If You Wanna, Wrecking Bar, Post Break-Up Sex, Dream Lover and Teenage Icon.

It’s always difficult for a support act when they’re not playing to “their crowd”, but The Vaccines had no problem winning the crowd over.

I would seriously consider going to see them if they did one of their own gigs in Belfast. In fact, i’m really regretting not going to see them when they played The Limelight last December.

Stereophonics appeared on stage 15 minutes earlier than the advertised start time, which took a lot of people by surprise. They have a lot of hits to go through, so they have to make every second count.

Hits was what the people got, which kept them happy despite getting drenched for period during the gig.

Kelly Jones made no mention of the Wales v Northern Ireland score the previous Saturday, which was very gracious.

If Northern Ireland had won, it would have been a cert that the crowd would have given them loads of abuse over it.

The only downside was the volume of fagbreaths. No matter where I stood, I was surrounded by them. Seriously Belfast, you’ve got a serious problem when you can’t even enjoy a concert because of people like you.

Hopefully next year, they’ll dig a hole somewhere at the back for them and leave the rest of us to enjoy the gig.

The new venue itself was very spacious, providing an obvious advantage, but also a disadvantage in terms of a slight loss of atmosphere.

As with the previous night, getting out of the venue was easy enough, the only downside was being effective blocked in The Odyssey Car Park by taxi drivers parking on the double yellow line outside it, meaning drivers leaving the car park had to go across two lanes instead of one just to get out.

Bravo, well done. No, seriously.

Fans lucky enough to be there were treated to hits such as Local Boy In The Photograph, A Thousand Trees, Superman, Have A Nice Day, The Bartender And The Thief, and Dakota, as well as more recent favourites such as Indian Summer and I Wanna Get Lost With You

A new song i’d never heard before was Sunny, from Keep The Village Alive, which I liked, even allowing for Kelly Jones doing a Spinal Tap-esque guitar solo.

This gig wrapped up the June session of Belsonic, another one is being lined-up in August.

I’ve already got tickets for Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

A new line-up announcement today has left me with a moral dilemma, as KT Tunstall has been announced as support for The Corrs.

Now, I like KT Tunstall a lot, and I did find it a bit odd there was no Belfast gig when her October/November tour was announced earlier this week. I didn’t even factor in Belsonic.

As said, I like KT Tunstall, but i’m not that fussed on The Corrs. Should I buy a ticket and just leave after KT? I do still have a Ticketmaster voucher from my birthday.

Decisions, decisions.

Photo Album

See Also

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2015

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2015 Photo Album

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey November 2013

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey November 2013 Photo Album

Stereophonics live at Waterfront Hall March 2013

Stereophonics live at Waterfront Hall March 2013

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2010

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2010 Photo Album

ELLIE GOULDING – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 28.6.2016

It’s fair to say that Ellie Goulding is no stranger to Northern Ireland since releasing her debut album in 2010, playing a varying range of venues – Spring and Airbrake, Ulster Hall, Ward Park, Waterfront Hall, The Odyssey, Boucher Road Playing Fields.

On Tuesday night, she added Titanic Belfast to the list, headlining as part of the Belsonic festival, on the penultimate night of the June series of the concerts.

I gave a miss to her last two Belfast concerts. I couldn’t be bothered with paying for a Calvin Harris ticket when I wanted to see Ellie Goulding, and I gave her last Odyssey gig as miss as it was part of the Halcyon Tour that I had seen her perform on the previous year.

I’ve seen her twice before, in 2010 and 2013. Adding 2016 to the list, it looks like it’s a triennial event for me, but it just happens that way.

Support for this gig came in the shape of Walking On Cars and The Coronas. I actually missed Walking On Cars, which was a pity as i’d heard some of their songs and liked them, despite their annoying marketing technique of advertising what seems like every five minutes on XFM.

The Coronas were on the Belsonic bill, as support, just as they were for Stereophonics last year. Like last year, they were decent. Also like last year, they announced mid set they would be performing at Ulster Hall in December.

Ellie Goulding is now at the stage of her career where she can do a Greatest Hits set, and that’s what people were expecting. What they weren’t expecting was a technical fault in the first song when an LED screen (should it not be an Ellie-D screen) failed, showing up the Windows start page.

The crowd cheered. Classic Belfast, never slow in cheering when things go monumentally wrong.

Ellie played on, while the screen got fixed in the background.

The playlist was a bit skewed. She isn’t a Dance artist but she does music you can dance to. One minute people would be dancing, then she would play a slow song, which killed the mood. People were here to dance.

If you wanted to hear her biggest hits, you weren’t to be disappointed, as you would have got to hear Something In The Way You Move, Goodness Gracious, Outside, Figure 8, Lights, Burn, I Need Your Love, Anything Could Happen and Love Me Like You Do.

It was my first Belsonic at their new venue, having moved to Titanic Quarter from Custom House Square, where the festival had taken place since it’s inception in 2008.

I was unsure about the move, but I was prepared to give it a chance. I did my evening cycle a week before there just to do a dry run to see what the venue is like.

It was on the day of the Germany v Northern Ireland match in Euro 2016, so I was going past as people were leaving the Fanzone that was showing the match.

I have to admit I was worried this would be an utter shambles, as massive queues formed to pay for car parking at The Odyssey, due to there not being the option of giving money to Odyssey staff at the Exit Gate, like when there is a concert on at The Odyssey.

That’s why I liked Custom House Square. I was able to park for free opposite the Fire Station on Ormeau Avenue and just walk down.

I parked at The Odyssey for this and it wasn’t too bad getting out. The queues for paying were relatively small and the car park wasn’t that full, which I found a bit surprising, albeit pleasantly surprising.

It’s far too early to say if the move has been a good thing or a bad thing, there are both positive and negative aspects, but it’s good to see that my initial fears weren’t realised.

The show itself was decent, but I do feel that her live show is better suited to an indoor venue.

By my law of seeing Ellie Goulding, I won’t see her again until 2019. Where? I don’t know. She never seems to play the same Belfast venue twice.

Photo Album

See Also

Ellie Goulding Live At Waterfront Hall April 2013

Ellie Goulding Live At Waterfront Hall April 2013 Photo Album

Ellie Goulding Live At Ulster Hall November 2010

Ellie Goulding Live At Ulster Hall November 2010 Photo Album

2016 : THE HALF-TERM HALF CENTURY

It’s that time of year again, where we have reached the halfway point. So, as is tradition, it’s time to look back at the 50 best songs of the year so far.

1. The Strumbellas – Spirits
2. James – Nothing But Love
3. Iggy Pop – Gardenia
4. Blossoms – Getaway
5. Aurora – Conquerer
6. Travis – Magnificent Time
7. Blossoms – At Most A Kiss
8. Grimes – California
9. The Lumineers – Ophelia
10. James – Dear John
11. Christine and the Queens – Tilted
12. Stone Roses – All For One
13. Bloc Party – Virtue
14. Manic Street Preachers – Feels Like Heaven
15. Taylor Swift – Out Of The Woods
16. Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habits
17. The Temper Trap – Fall Together
18. The Coral – Miss Fortune
19. The Last Shadow Puppets – Aviation
20. Jake Bugg – Gimme The Love
21. Lukas Graham – 7 Years
22. White Spaces ft Jim Kerr – The Man Who Sold The World
23. Tom Odell – Magnetised
24. Foxes – Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
25. Tegan and Sara – Boyfriend
26. Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend
27. Ellie Goulding – Army
28. Biffy Clyro – Wolves Of Winter
29. Halsey – New Americana
30. Richard Ashcroft – This Is How It Feels
31. Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain
32. The 1975 – The Sound
33. DNCE – Cake By The Ocean
34. Lorde – Life On Mars?
35. The 1975 – A Change Of Heart
36. All Saints – One Strike
37. Laura Tesoro – What’s The Pressure?
38. Birdy – Keeping You Head Up
39. Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold
40. Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
41. Paul Simon – Wristband
42. Laura Mvula – Overcome
43. Manic Street Preachers – Together Stronger
44. Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One
45. Graham Nash – This Path Tonight
46. Tegan and Sara – U-Turn
47. Chvrches – Warning Call
48. Richard Ashcroft – Hold On
49. Nina Nesbitt – Chewing Gum
50. Travis – 3 Miles High