It’s that time of year where people do End Of Year Lists and this blog is no different with the now traditional chart of the best songs of the year.
Nothing scientific, just a scroll through The Friday Fives and trying to put them in order of songs I love the most.
Enjoy, hope i’ve helped you discover something you’ve never heard before
Maneskin – Zitti E Buoni
Gaspard Auge – Force Majeure
Alfie Templeman – Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – The Mighty Quinn
Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under
Wesley Gonzalez and Rose Elinor Dougall – Greater Expectations
Tears For Fears – Tipping Point
The Weeknd – Save Your Tears
Lonelady – There Is No Logic
Chvrches – Good Girls
Rag n Bone Man – All You Ever Wanted
Amy Montgomery – Anywhere
Lorde – Solar Power
Coldplay – Higher Power
Laura Mvula – Got Me
The Anxiety – Meet Me At Our Spot
Griff – One Foot In Front Of The Other
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – We’re On Our Way Now
Dermot Kennedy – Better Days
Tom Grennan – Little Bit Of Love
Taylor Swift – All Too Well (Taylor’s version)
Sting – Rushing Water
Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin
Marshmello and Jonas Brothers – Leave Before You Love Me
Griff – One Night
Royal Blood – Limbo
The Alarm – The Red Wall Of Cymru
Tears For Fears – No Small Thing
Tix – Fallen Angel
Chvrches – The Killing Moon
Harry Styles – Treat People With Kindness
The Roop – Discotheque
Sigrid – Burning Bridges
Baby Queen – Dover Beach
Maisie Peters – John Hughes Movie
Villagers – So Simpatico
Alphabeat – Danmark’s Dynamite
Jendrik – I Don’t Feel Hate
Hooverphonic – The Wrong Place
Jeangu Macrooy – Birth Of A New Age
Andy Bell – Skywalker
U2 – Your Song Saved My Life
The Fratellis – Yes Sir I Can Boogie
Olivia Rodrigo – Good 4 U
Chvrches – He Said, She Said
Mike Patton – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles
Olivia Rodrigo – Deja Vu
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – We’re Gonna Get There In The End
The Divine Comedy – The Best Mistakes
Franz Ferdinand – Billy Goodbye
So congratulations to Maneskin. There isn’t a formal prize on offer, but you can still bask in the glory of coming top of this poll and joining the Hall Of Fame below.
2020 Tame Impala – Lost In Yesterday 2019 Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hill 2018 Lovelytheband – Broke 2017 Liam Gallagher – For What It’s Worth 2016 The Strumbellas – Spirits 2015 Blossoms – Charlamagne 2014 Jamie T – Zombie 2013 Haim – The Wire 2012 Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together 2011 Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA What A Life 2010 Marina and the Diamonds – Shampain 2009 Little Boots – New In Town 2008 Sons and Daughter – Darling 2007 Feist – 1, 2, 3, 4 2006 Kasabian – Empire
It was better than 2020 but nowhere near 2019. It didn’t have any European Championship games at Lansdowne Road nor did it have United playing in the European Super Cup Final at Windsor Park.
Despite that, it did have it’s moments.
Red Cards: 6
Hat-Tricks: 1 (Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United v Leeds United)
Penalty Misses: 1
Teams Seen: 17
Ballymena United, Borja Banka Luca (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts, Fola Esch, Glenavon, Glentoran, Larne, Leeds United, Linfield, Manchester United, Portadown, Warrenpoint Town, Zalgiris Vilnius (1st time)
Grounds Visited: 9
Coleraine Showgrounds, Inver Park, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, The Oval, Windsor Park,
Euro Conference (1st time), European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League
Let’s hope 2022 is a lot better. Let’s start by not being thick as shit and having games played behind closed doors.
I’m planning to visit Blanchflower Park the next time Harland and Wolff Welders are at home and I have a free Saturday. The prospect of visiting a new ground is quite exciting. Of course, there is the County Antrim Shield Final between Linfield and Larne. Steel and Sons Cup Final will be on Christmas Eve so i’ll be more than likely to go to that. I’m not planning on going to the World Cup.
Never mind football trips, I don’t have trips anywhere planned for 2022. Let’s hope that 2022’s football watching stats will be more at the level of 2019.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, two points thrown away.
For the first time in a long time, over a decade at least, Linfield and Glentoran met on Boxing Day (I know it was the 27th, but you know what I mean) with both sides challenging for the title. Usually it is just Linfield.
It was so close, both sides went into the game level on points, separated by goal difference.
In fact, even the goal difference was close, just three in Linfield’s favour.
Both sides went into this game on decent runs of form. For Linfield, an just one defeat in nineteen games, and an unbeaten run of six League games while Glentoran had won eight matches in a row.
It was worth pointing out though, that they hadn’t beaten a team higher than 6th in this run.
As well as a different date, many will have noticed that Windsor Park is now the host venue in an odd numbered year as there were no games scheduled for Boxing Day in 2020. It was easy to remember where it was when The Oval hosted it in odd numbered years because, well, they are a bit odd over there.
Wherever Linfield play, you are having to savour each Linfield match you go to, win lose or draw because of so much uncertainty at the moment regarding fans being allowed into grounds.
Such is the way of the world at the moment, fans were no doubt browsing Social Media to make sure this match was definitely on. There was always a scare when you browse Twitter and glance at a post from NIFL’s account announcing a postponement, hoping that it isn’t the match you are planning to go to.
One of those games that were postponed was Cliftonville v Crusaders, meaning that if there was a winner in this game, they could pull further clear of Cliftonville, even though Cliftonville would have a game in hand. You know what they say, points on the board are always better than games in hand.
That is probably why Cliftonville haven’t messed about rearranging this game, slotting it in for the next available midweek date, Tuesday 4th January 2022.
Even more motivation for Linfield to win.
Especially frustrating for Cliftonville was that if this game ended a draw, a win over Crusaders would have seen them go back to the top of the table.
The big team news for Linfield was that Christy Manzinga was fit to start for Linfield, while a tactical reshuffle saw starts for Jamie Mulgrew and Cameron Palmer, both returning after injury.
As ever, Boxing Day attracted a large crowd, giving me the rare opportunity to watch a match from the Railway Stand, the best stand at Windsor Park. No dissenting opinions will be tolerated.
It was Glentoran who settled into the game better, being more comfortable on the ball, with Shay McCartan having a shot deflected wide, before Jay Donnelly got in behind Linfield’s defence and stroked the ball past Chris Johns.
Just as he was about to celebrate putting his side 1-0 up, Trai Hume came to Linfield’s rescue, clearing the ball on the line to keep the score at 0-0, for the second match in a row.
For the first time in a long time, if ever, Glentoran were quickly restarting the game at throws and free-kicks, knowing this might be their only chance to get ahead in the game.
They couldn’t make the most of it as Linfield now took control of the game, starting to offer an attacking threat to Glentoran. Matthew Clarke had an effort blocked while Jimmy Callacher had a header go just wide.
Christy Manzinga then narrowly missed being on the end of a cross as Linfield continued to be camped in Glentoran’s half.
That was rewarded ten minutes before half-time when Trai Hume got on the end of a cross to fire home from close range to give Linfield a deserved lead. Curiously, it was Hume’s second goal for Linfield, both this season, and both against Glentoran.
Not that anyone in The Kop, South Stand or Railway Stand cared about curious stats, they were only interested in wether Linfield could make the most of this and get a second.
Even at this early stage, there would be no way back to Glentoran at 0-2.
It looked like that would happen when Christy Manzinga went on a run and cut inside, but his shot was deflected wide.
Apart from the opening ten minutes, that was a satisfactory first-half from Linfield, the only downside was the lack of a second goal.
Especially so, with the Ghosts Of Christmas Past, or rather, Ghosts Of Boxing Day Past looming large, Linfield hoping to avoid being haunted by missed chances to blow a 1-0 lead and control of the game as they did in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2016.
Logic would have dictated that there would have been a response from Glentoran at the start of the second-half. There wasn’t. The pressure from Linfield continued.
More chances continued, with Jordan Stewart having a low shot saved.
Cameron Palmer was too honest for his own good when he was held back and chipped at when running with the ball in the penalty area. Not enough contact to go down, but you would have got the decision anywhere else on the pitch. There were surprisingly no claims from Linfield players.
It looked like Christy Manzinga was going to make it 2-0, but a combination of Joe Crowe and Aaron McCarey were able to deny him.
Jamie Mulgrew’s game finished early after a tackle, being replaced by Kirk Millar, meaning that Linfield were now going for a more attacking formation in search for a second goal.
The game then swung massively in Linfield’s favour when Conor McMenamin was sent-off after a late tackle on Jimmy Callacher.
Both players left the field in a stretcher.
The Referee took his red card out but then out it back in his pocket as he had to deal with players squaring up to each other. It looked like McMenamin was going to get a sympathy decision, but once the dust settled, a red card was brandished.
As a result of the tackle, Jimmy Callacher had to be replaced by Sam Roscoe,
There were further injury woes for Linfield when Christy Manzinga went off injured, replaced by Ahmed Salam, with Jordan Stewart moving up front.
That moved almost paid off when the ball fell to Jordan Stewart with his back to goal but his hooked shot went just over.
Linfield were left to rue those missed opportunities when Jay Donnelly headed home from a free-kick to put Glentoran level.
Suddenly, Linfield were sparked back into life. Too late, you could say.
Kyle McClean had a shot saved, as did Mike Newberry.
As the game went into eight minutes of injury time, mainly due to the stoppage over the red card incident., Ahmed Salam had a shot go just over while Cameron Palmer had a shot tipped over.
The pressure continued from Linfield, corners only being cleared to Linfield players, the attacks continuing but Glentoran were able to hold out.
There was still time for one last Linfield chance as Aaron McCarey dropped a cross but was able to gather on the line with Linfield players breathing down on him.
The Kop and South Stand screamed for a goal, but not the Railway Stand as they had a clear view that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
It was to be the last act of a game where Linfield were left to rue missed chances and one failure to defend a set piece.
Injuries to Billy Chadwick and Matt Green necessitated it, but this game was a reminder that Linfield need to purchase a striker in January.
Scoring a goal hasn’t been a problem. Scoring goals has. As good as Linfield’s defensive record has been this season, we can’t keep relying on keeping a clean sheet in order to win. There was no way Glentoran would have come back if the game went to 2-0.
Linfield were once again haunted by the Ghosts Of Boxing Days Past.
Despite the disappointing result, there is a lot to be positive about, top of the League with only one defeat after a hefty turnover of players, and have beaten every team in the League.
We’ll play worse than this and win. Time to move on and prepare for the next game.
Elsewhere in the League, Cliftonville and Crusaders were inactive but Larne won and Coleraine lost.
What that means in terms of the League table below Cliftonville is that Larne are eight points off the top. Not in the mix but not totally out of it.
Bizarrely, Crusaders can go five points off the top if they win their games in hand. If they do, you would have to say they are in the title race.
Coleraine appear to have capitulated and are now trying to stay in the Top 6 instead of winning the title.
So, is it a three team title race or a four team title race?
Who cares as long as they are all chasing Linfield.
Up next, or at least scheduled to be up next is a trip to Dungannon Swifts.
I say scheduled as Dungannon Swifts match against Warrenpoint Town on Boxing Day was postponed due to Covid Protocols, although i’m not sure which team was unable to fulfil the fixture.
As I said earlier, points on the board are better than games in hand, especially with very few free midweeks (County Antrim Shield Final and two midweek fixture lists) in January and early February.
Also, Harland and Wolff Welders are away on New Year’s Day, so I won’t have that to fill in my free Saturday.
Let’s be positive that there will be a game at Stangmore Park on Saturday. Oh, and that Linfield will win it.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Cliftonville face a tricky trip to Glenavon although I would expect them to sneak a win.
Glentoran are at home to Larne and it kicks off after Linfield’s match. That is Saturday’s teamtalk sorted. Get the points on the board and sit back while two rivals slug it out.
A draw would be nice but I could live with a Larne win.
On Christmas Day, Linfield Swifts lost in the Steel and Sons Cup Final. In the end, I decided not to go.
Due to the way the calendar falls, next year’s final will be on Christmas Eve.
I’ll be tempted to go to that.
It will be six days after the World Cup Final, meaning that the Sunday 18th December 2022 edition of Sunday Life will preview Steel and Sons Cup Final and the World Cup Final.
That is my football watching for 2021 over.
Not quite at the levels of 2019 but a lot better than 2020.
Let’s hope our society stops being thick as shit and spreading disease, meaning football fans have to be punished because people can’t behave themselves in Tesco.
After a long trek, Linfield finally made it to the top of the Irish League table. The key is to stay there. It’s always nice to wake up on Christmas Day top of the table, but the best day to wake up on top of the table is the day after the last game of the season.
Originally scheduled for Matchday 3 in September, the postponement of this and the Glentoran match in the midweek before had meant that Linfield had been playing catch-up all season. Now, they were finally getting a chance to be fully caught up in terms of fixtures.
It’s one thing playing games, it’s another thing to win them, as Ballymena United arrived at Windsor Park on a run of four wins from five, and had beaten Linfield in the League Cup the previous month.
There were some welcome returnees for Linfield, not in the starting eleven but on the bench, with Jamie Mulgrew, Cameron Palmer and Sam Roscoe all returning after injury to give the bench a more experienced look than it has had in recent games.
It was Linfield who had the first chance with a low shot from Matthew Clarke forcing the first save of the game.
Christy Manzinga, of course, was next involved, having a low shot go just wide. For a brief second, it looked like was going in.
The early pressure continued, as Linfield looked for an early goal in a fixture that they have dominated in recent years, winning twelve home League games in a row against Ballymena, but often having to work for them, with eight of those wins coming by a one goal margin.
Ballymena were having their own adventures into Linfield’s half, a shot going well wide the best they could offer, but a reminder to Linfield that there were two teams in this game, and they had to watch not to fall behind.
Especially as we were treated to the now customary timewasting at goal kicks, demanding to use the ball that has just went out of play rather than the one they have been given.
Martin Donnelly was next to be frustrated, having a low shot parried but no Linfield players were able to follow up.
It looked like Linfield were going to make the breakthrough when Trai Hume was played through but was denied and frustrated by a last minute tackle at the expense of a corner.
Christy Manzinga was able to create space for himself and cut inside only to see his shot blocked for a corner.
In the final seconds of one minute of injury time (I know, just one minute) Manzinga got in behind Ballymena’s defence, similarly to his recent goal against Warrenpoint Town, but this time Ballymena’s keeper was able to get out and make himself big and make a save.
There was still enough time for Linfield, but they couldn’t make the most of it as the half-time whistle blew as soon as it was cleared.
0-0, but plenty to suggest that goals were there for Linfield. They just needed to be clinical in front of goal.
There was goalscoring chances in the early minutes of the second-half, but they were coming for Ballymena.
One effort was cleared off the line by Trai Hume while another effort hit the post. This match was threatening to become another Warrenpoint. Linfield couldn’t afford that.
Despite that, Linfield had their own attacking moments, with both sides feeling they should have been in the lead as the hour approached.
The ball was going everywhere but in the net for Linfield. Everytime the ball went into the box or was blocked or saved, it just wasn’t falling to a Linfield player.
They could have helped themselves though. A lot of their build-up was let down by passing or running with the ball too much, or by the final pass being too short. At some point, everybody in the South Stand was screaming SHOOT!!! either internally or externally.
In terms of attacking options, there wasn’t a lot of experience on the bench, so David Healy turned to Jamie Mulgrew and Cameron Palmer for Kyle McClean and Martin Donnelly, reverting to a 4-3-3 formation.
Ahmed Salam had a shot saved as Linfield continued to endure a frustrating evening.
Eventually, on 76 minutes, Linfield got the breakthrough when Trai Hume played in Chrity Manzinga.
There was a brief moment in time when it became obvious he was going to get a clear shot, but there was still work to do.
Thankfully, he did that work, knocking the ball over the keeper to give Linfield the lead.
The joy would be mixed for Linfield fans as Manzinga instantly gestured for treatment, continuing his goal celebration, fistpumping the air while lying on the ground.
It would be his last involvement in the game, being substituted for Andrew Clarke.
All that Linfield fans want for Christmas is for Manzinga to be fit against Glentoran on the 27th.
Although, Linfield managed ok without him against Glentoran in September. You’d still rather have him out there.
That wouldn’t be a guarantee of three points for Linfield. A second goal would definitely have done that though.
It didn’t come, and naturally, Ballymena United had more of the ball in the final stages as they searched for an equaliser.
They even had a free-kick from the same position Warrenpoint scored their equaliser (different end though) ten days earlier. Thankfully, this one went straight into the wall.
The closest that Ballymena came to a goal was a free header from a cross that was easily saved by Chris Johns even if the dive did look spectacular.
There was one more scare for Linfield, as Ballymena tried to work an opening, resulting in a shot from the edge of the box being fired over.
Linfield were able to see the game out and get a 1-0 win that saw them go top of the League at the halfway stage.
Up next, the smaller matter of Glentoran at home on December 27th.
This result meant that Linfield have beaten every team in the League this season, so there is nothing to fear.
Time to really take control of the table, just as we did at this time of year in 2018-2019.
Although, the Christmas/New Year fixture list is a lot more spread out this year due to the way the calendar falls.
I’m still unsure if i’ll be at the Steel and Sons Cup Final but good luck to Linfield Swifts.
And of course, Merry Christmas to you all, even Glentoran supporters, though I hope you have a rotten 27th.
If you remember just one thing, try not to be thick as shit when going about your daily business and let’s drive Covid figures down. Saturday afternoons in the Living Room listening to Radio Ulster are not the same.
Linfield are in the running for three trophies in 2022. If they win nothing, one, two or three, let’s make sure we’ll be able to witness it in person.
November began with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, while I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Street Art. Might as well, seeing as it was my first time there in two years.
Later that week, I did something else I hadn’t done for a long time. Not as long, just over eighteen months. I am of course referring to going to a concert, in this case, Lightning Seeds at The Limelight.
That was then followed by two road trips for Linfield away games, to Portadown and Crusaders.
Sandwiched inbetween that was another road trip, this time to Ards to get some Street Art photos, with a recent event having taken place.
It was a month of doing things I hadn’t done for a while. This time, going on a flight.
The destination was Gatwick, but not to go to London, but Brighton instead.
So many photo adventures, where to start?
Street Art in Brighton, of course. Also, a walk along Beachy Head, OMD in concert, and some sunsets while I was in Brighton.
Back home, a return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville.
Two days later, I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans in concert.
The month ended with Linfield matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.
This was a pleasant and most welcoming early Christmas present, a win at Larne at long long last.
Ever since Larne won promotion in 2019, Inver Park had been a tricky venue for Linfield. Scoring hadn’t been a problem, keeping them out was, as scorelines such as 1-3, 1-4, 1-3, 1-1 and 1-1 would testify.
Those last two scorelines gave hope to Linfield that they could something. They’d stopped the rot but they needed to start winning. A draw wouldn’t have been a disaster, but having dropped points to Warrenpoint Town last weekend, there was a danger that others could start to pull away from them with the table so tight at the moment, and this game presenting Linfield with an opportunity to go top, even if it was potentially for a short period of time.
As with the game in October, this game was moved for TV coverage, this time on the BBC, where Linfield have a record of two wins and one defeat in this fixture when live on the BBC.
Not much use if you were planning to get the train to the game, as you’d have to leave midway through the second-half to get the last train home.
Linfield’s starting eleven picked itself, mainly because there was nobody else fit, opting for a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation.
If you thought this was going to be a defensive affair due to what was at stake, you would be mistaken, with both sides having attacks inside the first 45 seconds.
A shot from Davy McDaid took a bounce which caused Chris John’s to spill it, luckily Matthew Clarke was there to shield the ball and stop Larne from scoring.
Immediately, Linfield had an attack of their own which was stopped by a foul, giving them a free-kick in a promising position which was eventually cleared.
And there was still 89 minutes of this still to go.
Larne seemed determined to get an early goal, with Ben Doherty having a long range shot go just over he bar, while Ronan Hale fired across goal.
Linfield had opportunities of their own, but they were usually thwarted by a pass or a tackle or a miscontrol. Both teams were having the same amoutn of attacking time, but Larne were making better use of their attacking possession.
Their best moment came from a Christy Manzinga run which resulted in a shot being saved from a wide angle.
On the half hour, the game swing massively in Linfield’s favour with the award of a penalty kick.
Christy Manzinga was fouled just as he entered the penalty (I was unsure at the ground, as I was so far away from the incident, but TV footage showed that it was) area and Kofi Balmer was given a red card for bringing him down.
Chris Shields, who else, stepped up to take the penalty, in off the post. I’d actually thought he missed it from where I was.
A goal up and a man up, Linfield would never have a better chance to win at Inver Park.
They almost doubled that lead when Stephen Fallon hit the bar from close range under pressure from a Larne defender after a pull back from Christy Manzinga.
A 1-0 lead at half-time, not too bad, but Linfield needed to make this extra man work for them.
And work for them it did in the second-half, as Linfield came out strong, determined to make the most of their advantage and kill the game off.
They almost did that in the early minutes of the half when Ahmed Salam had a goalbound volley cleared off the line.
Trai Hume then had a shot saved as Linfield searched for a second goal. The important thing was, they were restricting Larne and keeping them well away from their own goal.
If you can’t score, don’t concede.
With a squad decimated by injuries, there wasn’t a lot of experienced players for Linfield to call on from the bench.
Martin Donnelly, who set up the equaliser on his last visit to Larne, came on, as did Josh Archer, who had so far only featured in cup games.
A quick counter attack looked like it was going to bring that elusive second goal, but Kyle McClean saw his shot saved by Rohan Ferguson.
Two and a half minutes into three minutes of injury time, if you can’t score, just don’t lose the ball and keep it in play. Ferguson’s save turned the ball out for a corner. Linfield still had the ball in Larne’s defensive third. Hold onto it and don’t do anything stupid, and three points would be in the bag.
Thankfully, they were able to see the game out, securing a 1-0 win to go top, albeit temporarily when they were immediately but not unsurprisingly knocked off by Cliftonville who beat Carrick Rangers.
Elsewhere, Glentoran beat Glenavon while Coleraine and Crusaders drew with each other, giving Linfield a bit of breathing space from both, but not enough to rule them out of the title race.
Larne won’t have long to wait for a chance to get revenge, although it will be the trophy on offer that will be the main motivation, with the County Antrim Shield Final on 11th January.
The venue for that has been confirmed for Seaview. Surprised by that, I thought it might have been too small and that it was going to be played at The Oval.
It should be a decent atmosphere there. Well, if fans are allowed in. Sadly, that’s where we are because this whole country is too thick to not spread disease.
League Of Ireland fixture list for 2022 has just been released, i’m still digesting it. It might be as far as I get to travel in 2022 so might as well take in a game if i’m staying somewhere. Bray Wanderers and Finn Harps are the teams i’m looking out for.
Another free Saturday, and Harland and Wolff Welders are away. They’re doing this on purpose to annoy me. I will visit that stadium.
Eyeing up their Irish Cup tie against Annagh United (Linfield have a home tie to lower league opposition which should be a non-event, famous last words) on January 8th.
The draw for the UEFA Nations League was made. Pointless competition, waste of time, should just go straight to Euro 2024 Qualifiers.
For what it’s worth, the draw could have been kinder to Northern Ireland. There were some teams they could have got which would have been certain promotion.
They are more than capable of beating Greece and Kosovo, but they’ll have to work for it.
Depending on the Play-Off result, Estonia could be in their group. The away game is sandwiched inbetween two Finland home games. There is the potential of a long trip to both neighbouring countries.
Forget about Finland and Tallin, i’ll be grateful to visit Fermanagh and Tyrone in 2022.
Up next for Linfield is a home match against Ballymena United, their game in hand.
A win will see them go top, and send out a message to their rivals.
It wouldn’t hurt to go top of the league in case the season has to be abandoned. That’s where this stupid fucking country is at.
This concert should have taken place at the end of May 2020, to kickstart the Summer of 2020. A lot of things didn’t happen in the Summer of 2020. Instead, the rearrangements to October 2020, May 2021 and then December 2021 meant that this became the now triennial Ash Christmas Bash.
In 2015 and 2018 (later in the month, coincidentally both on 20th December) they held concerts in the run-up to Christmas, dubbed The Ash Christmas Bash, which descended into anarchy and farce. The good sort.
Even though this concert didn’t have the same billing, it was. We all knew it was.
The reason for this tour, was to promote a compilation album called Teenage Wildlife, released to celebrate 25 years of Ash as a recording act, except it is now 26 years. Almost 27, as we are two months short of it being two years since it was released, braving a very wet Belfast City Centre to see Tim Wheeler perform a solo acoustic set in HMV to promote it.
To be honest, as with the other concerts I have attended, I was a bit unsure about going to this because of you know what, especially when The Charlatans and Supergrass became the first of many band over the next few days to immediately postpone their tours.
Eventually, I decided to go, wearing two masks and having a hand held fan with me to be extra sure. I’d got my Booster Jab the night before.
For this concert, The Limelight were making something vaguely resembling an effort for once, checking Covid Passes as people went in. They even had signage up requesting people wear masks. Obviously, they didn’t enforce it, that would be too much of an effort.
You may be shocked to discover that Maskexemptionitis is still rife. If only somebody could find a cure for it.
Oh sorry, I forgot, Magnum Carter.
Eventually, Ash appeared onstage, jumping straight into Goldfinger, one of many of their big hits played early on.
Might as well give the people what they want.
That was followed by Shining Light, A Life Less Ordinary and Oh Yeah, as well as Darkest Hour Of The Night, the single to promote the compilation released nearly two years ago that they are only getting around to promote.
I was expecting some changes to the lyrics in Buzzkill to reference you know what, but that would be letting you know what win.
Throughout the concert, Mark Hamilton was adopted Peter Hook-esque poses with his Bass, holding it in every position possible. You could have just stood watching him all night and be entertained.
It wasn’t just their own hits, as they included a cover of Another Girl Another Planet and one of Rocking Around The Christmas Tree, as tradition dictated they have to, in their words, massacre at least one Christmas classic.
Before leaving the stage, Tim Wheeler declared “See you next year” that Ash would be going on tour in 2022 to celebrate 30 years since they started performing as a live act.
All being well, that is, because of you know what. I admire his optimism.
I only have one concert in my diary for 2020, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at Ulster Hall.
At least I did, returning home to an e-mail from Ulster Hall to say that concert has been postponed until a (as yet unannounced) new date.
Although, it was on my dad’s birthday, which saved me from an awkward double booking. Phew.
I was hoping to see The Cure at The Odyssey in December (It’s on Robert Smith’s favourite day of the week) but not with a £7 Booking Fee. I will probably relent nearer the time.
Just remember that if someone from The Odyssey is ever on the news complaining that they are struggling financially because of you know what.
As a footnote to this concert, Ash appeared on a TV show called Live At The Waterfront. Funnily enough, it was filmed at Waterfront Hall. It was broadcast on Sky Arts so if you have Sky Q, you should be able to download it.
So, 2024, the next Ash Christmas Bash. Let’s try and have Covid consigned to history by then. Is that too much to ask for?