BRUCE STREET ART

If you’ve been checking out Bankmore Square Street Art recently, you couldn’t have not noticed Street Art across the road on Bruce Street.

If you’re familiar with that part of Belfast, it is a construction site where there used to be a car park outside IBM. The building is now being used by the Civil Service.

I got some photos of it on the Wednesday evening, but decided to wait until things were quieter on the Sunday morning as there would be less cars blocking a photo.

So, I waited until Sunday morning to get some photos.

In the time inbetween, the story got covered by the BBC, revealing that the Contractor gave permission for the artwork.

There is still some blank spaces, so there may be an update to this blog in the near future.

You can find the BBC report here.

In other Street Art news, the murals at Bank Square I covered a few weeks ago are now gone, while London Evening Standard did a piece on Dreph, who operates in the city, and featured on this blog when I went to London in January.

You can find the London Evening Standard article here.

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FRANZ FERDINAND – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

It had been a while, but Franz Ferdinand were back in Belfast, performing at Biggest Weekend at Titanic Slipways.

I had seen Franz Ferdinand before. It was a while ago, back in 2005 at Tennent’s Vital in Botanic Gardens along side Scissor Sisters.

Frustratingly, their short-lived but superb supergroup with Sparks, FFS, were playing Edinburgh when I was there in August 2015, but I was unable to see them. I went to see Aisling Bea instead.

The band entered the stage with Alex Kapranos wearing a suit with trainers. It would soon become apparent why.

Franz Ferdinand have a sound and they don’t deviate from it. It’s a great sound, that’s why.

They do guitar music you can dance to, or is it dance music you can play guitar to?

Either way, the crowd, myself included, was toetapping along as they performed their biggest hits.

Alex Kapranos was doing more than toetapping, doing all sorts of dancing, pirouetting, and even managing a few Peter Schmeichel-esque starjumps while playing guitar.

If anyone from Strictly was watching, sign him up.

They began with Always Ascending, the title track from their current album, before following it up with No You Girls.

Then followed Matinee, one of the two major hits from their debut album that made me fall in love with them back in 2004.

Back then, we was on BBC 2 telling Terry Wogan how he made.

Sadly, of course, Terry Wogan isn’t on BBC 2, or any channel these days, so the lyrics were changed to simply say “So i’m on BBC 2, telling Terry how i’ve made it”.

It could be Terry Christian?

That was then followed by Do You Want To?, the lead single from their second album You Could Have Had It So Much Better, which spawned other fantastic singles such as The Fallen and Eleanor Put your Boots On.

Saving the best, they finished on Take Me Out (like a few couples have. No likey, no lighty)

And that, was my Biggest Weekend over. I didn’t bother hanging around for Underworld.I was already danced out anyway.

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ASH – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

For me, it would be Ash who would be kicking off the second day of Biggest Weekend, as I headed back to Titanic Slipways to see them on the Saturday.

I could get used to afternoon concerts.

With a scheduled stage time of 4.10pm, i’d be heading over earlier than I did the previous day. Of the Saturday line-up, Ash and Franz Ferdinand were the acts I wanted to see the most.

For some, it would be the second time of the weekend they would be seeing Ash, as they did an instore appearance at HMV on the Friday teatime.

I wasn’t at that as I was heading to Biggest Weekend. I’m sure there were others in the same situation. I know we were getting to see them anyway, but it would have been nice to see them twice, and in a different kind of setting. They really could have scheduled that better.

I might have been in East Belfast, but it felt like Kiev with the amount of Liverpool shirts in the venue. Hope they enjoyed hearing the score when watching underworld. Born Slippy would be an apt description of Loris Karius handling and shotstopping.

Of all the concerts to go on Saturday, I was thankful, I wasn’t at Echo and the Bunnymen in Birmingham, with the band grumpy at having to do the concert after previously cancelling it because they wanted to watch Liverpool v Real Madrid and then relenting after anger from fans.

Ian McCullough enters the stage grumpy (to be fair, he’s always grumpy) as Liverpool go 1-0 down in a room full of Aston Villa supporters annoyed that their side has just lost 1-0 to Fulham in the Championship Play-Off Final. Gloriously miserable.

Ash at Titanic was thankfully a lot more upbeat, as the band began with Burn Baby Burn (which is what a lot of the crowd were doing due to the sun), which the audience were told when the band was being introduced was the first song played on 6 Music.

Afterwards, they announced they only had 35 minutes left, and were going to perform hits, which is what they did, performing songs such as King Fu, Oh Yeah, Shining Light and Girl From Mars, as well as more recent hit Annabel.

There was a brief chat where Tim Wheeler reminisced about Ash most famous concert, which recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary, at Waterfront Hall, when Bono turned up as a guest alongside David Trimble and John Hume.

Guest stars seem to be a bit of a theme when Ash play Belfast.

When I saw them at The Empire in 2015, Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol joined them onstage.

Tim announced that “Two legends from Derry” would be joining them.

Who could it be? Nadine Coyle? Dana? Fionnuala that owns the chippy?

Sadly, it wouldn’t be Baltimora. That would have been remarkable.

It was Mickey Bradley and Damien O’Neill from The Undertones.

Both of them had contributed to the recording of Buzzkill from Ash’s current album, which they performed together.

It would have been a waste to bring them down from Derry for just one song.

Tim Wheeler then reminisced about getting a guitar on Christmas Day and the first song he learnt. He said he was now getting the best guitar lesson in the world, as the men who wrote it would be performing it with him.

That song, of course, was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, which Ash signed off with.

This was a local gig for Ash, after that, the line-up took on a Swedish theme with Neneh Cherry followed by First Aid Kit.

I like some Neneh Cherry songs, so it would have been rude not to stay for her. It wasn’t a long set, but it was more than Seven Seconds (Sorry).

Incidentally, that wasn’t performed, not that unsurprising given the logistics involved in getting Yossou N’Dour over or getting someone to sing his parts.

We did get Manchild, which was her opening song.

We also had some new songs, as she apologised for having to read some lyrics off a sheet which she blamed on “Old age” (She’s only 54) but added that and advantage is that she is now known as “Big mamma” in her house.

She then announced that her final song would be “A jazz song”. Surely she wouldn’t do a set and not perform Buffalo Stance?

She did a bass and synth heavy reinterpretation of the song as we know it. It was superb. It was definitely better than Kayleigh’s version in Car Share.

I wasn’t really that fussed on First Aid Kit (though I do love My Silver Lining) so I decided to go for a bite to eat during their set.

Talking of which, I do understand economics and cashing in when there’s a market, but some of the prices being charged for food and drink (I can’t comment on the bar, i’m talking about the food vans) were scandalous and taking the piss.

It was made worse that there was no readmission so people couldn’t pop over to The Odyssey or to a cafe beside Spar for a bite to eat. People were stuck where they were, and got exploited as a result.

So, fed and rested (and ripped off) I was now ready for Franz Ferdinand. You can see photos of Neneh Cherry here.

Ash Photo Album

Ash live at The Empire 2015

BECK – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND 25.5.2018)

Beck Hansen, no relation to Alan Hansen but he does look like David Jensen, rolled in to Belfast last Friday to perform at Biggest Weekend.

I was primarily there on Friday to see Manic Street Preachers, but it would have been rude not to hang around for Beck.

I am partial to a bit of Beck, loving tunes such as Loser, Where It’s At, Devil’s Haircut, Sexx Laws and Blue Moon.

I wouldn’t be a die hard devotee, but if i’m listening to the radio and the Presenter says “and now, something new from Beck” i’m not going to change the channel because I know there’s a high chance it will be decent.

By the time he took the stage, the weather had improved, and had reverted back to the sunshine that was there earlier in the day.

Walking onto stage, he jumped straight into Devil’s Haircut, with it’s distinct guitar riff, before performing new favourite Up All Night.

He was giving off a funky Prince vibe throughout, even going so far as to do a solo acoustic cover of Raspberry Beret by Prince.

That wasn’t the only cover of the night, there were brief snippets of Good Times, Alternative Ulster, Good Times, Cars and Once In A Lifetime as he individually introduced each member of his band during Where It’s At.

Music fans in Dublin have received a bonus of this event in Dublin, with some acts sneaking in a Dublin concert around this Belfast date.

Beck was one of those, doing a Dublin concert two days before this, while The Breeders were able to slot in a previously postponed Dublin date around this.

If his Dublin concert was anything like this, it would have been a treat. Belfast certainly got a treat.

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MANIC STREET PREACHERS – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 25.5.2018

It’s not a Big Weekend, it’s the Biggest Weekend.

Not quite Radio 1’s Big Weekend, but an event primarily to fill the gap in the BBC’s schedules due to there being no Glastonbury this year, so the idea of Biggest Weekend was born.

It was a series of four concerts, one each in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales over two days over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The days allocated for Northern Ireland would be Friday and Saturday.

Surprisingly, the Northern Ireland one was held in Belfast. I say surprisingly, because the main feature of Radio 1’s Big Weekend, was that it was held in towns or cities that don’t usually appear on tour schedules.

That was true of the other three venues – Coventry (England), Perth (Scotland) and Swansea (Wales)

Belfast was the choice for Northern Ireland, in Titanic Slipways in the East of the city.

This was a venue that had previous experience of hosting live music events, previously hosting Proms In The Park and Belsonic (in 2016).

I went to a couple of Belsonic gigs in 2016, and the big thing that stood out was that the stage was in a different location, facing the back of Titanic Centre rather than it’s back to the street outside.

Like in 2016, it was spatious. Very spatious, which made it easy for getting around on foot.

Each of the four concerts had a radio station leading it. For Belfast, it was 6 Music.

I wouldn’t be an avid listener to 6 Music, but when I do listen to it, they usually have decent tunes on it.

The line-up for this concert was varied. At £18 a ticket, even if you only saw one act, it would be worth it.

For me, there were two acts that stood out for me on the Friday, Manic Street Preachers and Beck.

Unsure of what time Manic Street Preachers would be on stage at, I booked a half-day off work, in case it was during my working hours.

As it turned out, when the set times were published on the Thursday, they would be scheduled for 6.20pm (they wre actually a few minutes late)

I could have went straight from work, but I made the most of the half-day, having a relaxing afternoon before arriving at the venue just before 5pm, to get a bite to eat before going to see The Manics.

It would be a performance without Nicky Wire, as news broke at lunchtime on Friday that he wouldn’t be onstage due to a family member being ill.

I didn’t catch the name of the stand-in, but he has nice legs according to James Dean Bradfield, talking inbetween songs, who apologised that he wouldn’t be wearing a leopardskin skirt like Nicky Wire.

One observation was that the venue had a lot of Wellends. I’m not sure why, he wasn’t performing, though it was the great man’s 60th birthday. I think they might have been there for Touts, who were performing on another stage in the venue.

Another observation was that the venue was infested with absolute fucking tramps. Puff puff vape vape everywhere you go. Standard for any outdoor event in Belfast sadly.

Anyone who smokes in a crowded public area is a dirty fucking tramp. There is no debate, it is a statement of fact. Belfast is infested with them.

Can we have just one outdoor event in Belfast that doesn’t stink of fags and vapes?

Eating outside on a nice day, going to a beer garden, going to a football match, going to an outdoor concert, walking down the street. Just some of the things you can’t do in Belfast without having to hold your nose and cover your mouth.

You can’t even queue for a bus for crying out loud.

A few years back, some people couldn’t even fly from Belfast to Glasgow because some fucking idiot couldn’t even go a short time without and lit up in the toilet, forcing the flight back to Belfast.

But yeah, i’m just a moany cunt and there’s not a serious social problem that needs to be addressed on a city and country wide basis.

Imagine being a smoker and thinking that you’re cool. Oh mate.

Mate. Mate mate mate. Oh mate. I really don’t know how to break it to you.

Cue the response that “Lots of cool people smoke, like Bill Hicks and David Bowie”.

They’re dead.

Watching the TV coverage, every crowd shot had a vape cloud in the background. Utterly embarrassing as a showcase for Belfast.

Can’t say i’ve ever walked past Primark and seen a milly in her pyjamas having a smoke and thought she is so cool.

We are the majority and our enjoyment of events is being held to ransom by dirty tramps.

I am absolutely fed up of having to hold my nose and cover my mouth every time I go to an outdoor concert. This needs addressed and addressed as soon as possible.

Eventually, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore entered the stage, introduced by Stuart Maconie, jumping straight into International Blue, the lead single from their current album Resistance Is Futile (Yes, the most Manic Street Preachers sounding album title you could think of)

It was one of several new songs – Distant Colours, People Give In and Hold Me Like A Heaven that can stand up to any Manic Street Preachers classic.

Of course, the classics were played as well the first of those, Motorcycle Emptiness prompted and outburst of dad dancing from James Dean Bradfield. It was one of several dad dancing moments during the gig. It’s not a new thing from past experience.

I was a bit of a relative latecomer to The Manics, only really getting into them when they released Everything Must Go.

It was the follow-up to that album that provided the mainstay of classics, such as If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next and You Stole The Sun From My Heart from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.

Sunny when I arrived at the venue, the weather had now got a bit dull. Manic Street Preachers, were anything but.

They ended on Design For Life, with Bradfield thanking everyone who attended, especially those who had seen them previously at The Limelight and Mandela Hall in the 1990s.

A good start to the music for me (there had been acts on stage from 1pm) with Beck to come. Orbital would be headlining the Friday night in Belfast, presumably because they have a song called Belfast.

Simple Minds were performing in Perth and had a hit called Belfast Child (As much as I like Simple Minds, that is an utter wank song) and sadly wouldn’t be coming to Belfast.

Manic Street Preachers more than made up for it.

To paraphrase Jim Kerr, they are still very much alive and kicking.

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Manic Street Preachers live at Ulster Hall 2013

Manic Street Preachers live at Ulster 2009 Photo Album

BANKMORE SQUARE STREET ART

I usually walk this way a couple of times a week, but somehow I managed to miss this until I stumbled upon it by fluke.

As I headed home from work on Friday, I was halfway up the Dublin Road before I realised I had forgotten to head into The Limelight to get a ticket for Cast.

So, I did an about turn, and took a short cut along Bankmore Square, and spotted some Street Art on some boarding at a building site, running along Bankmore Square, opposite The Marcus Ward.

I made a note of it in my head, planning to return on Sunday morning to get some snaps.

It was a weekend for accidental discoveries.

On Saturday, I went to see David Hepworth at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival on Saturday teatime. As a side note, Hepworth has blogged about his visit to belfast. You can find it here.

On my way home, I walked through the tunnel at Exchange Place and noticed something was missing, the mural of John Peel. It has now been painted over, though somebody has painted “John Peel Was Here”.

I don’t usually venture to that part of Belfast City Centre, so I can’t give any info as to why it was removed or when it was removed.

The original mural, picture taken in 2011, can be found here.

An image of what the wall looks like now can be found here.

If you’re enjoying this Bank Holiday Weekend, you’ll be glad that another one is only three weeks away. On the Monday of that weekend (28th May) has been confirmed as the date of Wardrobe Jam, a Street Art event at CS Lewis Square.

That was originally scheduled for early March but had to be postponed due to snow. Hopefully, we will avoid that fate in late May, but you never know.

Not a Street Art even, but an event that features Street Art, the date of Culture Night 2018 has been confirmed for Friday 21st September.

A half day of Annual Leave has already been booked.

Friz has been busy at work in Bank Square (not to be confused with Bankmore Square) so i’ll be heading out to check that out over the next few days.

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EAST BELFAST WALL OF FAME – UPDATE

You may remember in March last year, a piece about a mural in progress in East Belfast, where the Eastside Visitor Centre is.

It is a collage of famous people and landmarks associated with East Belfast. A full list of those featuring on the wall can be found here.

Back then, it was a building site. When I wrote the original blog, I promised I would update you when the building work was completed. So, just over a year later, it is now a garden that people can enjoy, relax, and most importantly, get closer to the mural if you want to get a photo of it.

You can also get a bite to eat while doing so, at Pot Kettle Black, which opened a few weeks ago.

The group East Belfast Partnership has been behind this. They posted a then and now of the area on their Twitter page.

If you’re into Street Art in East Belfast, keep an eye out on Pansy Street for the mural of CS Lewis to be repainted. There is no confirmed date for that yet.

That was covered in a previous blog, looking at some new pieces that appeared in East Belfast in March 2018.

And fingers crossed that Hit The East will return in August after debuting in 2017.

Photographed from late 2017 until April 2018, here’s a look at how a mural that was obstructed to the public became the focal point of a garden that locals and visitors to East Belfast can visit as part of the Connswater Greenway.

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SMITHFIELD

A new mural to add to Belfast’s wallspace. It’s actually been up for a few weeks, but i’ve only got a chance to phorograph it now.

It is in Smithfield, near to Smithfield Market, but still a bit of a walk away from it. It depicts old life in Smithfield Market.

It is a collaboration between Kev Largey and Jonny McKerr, whose work has previously featured on this blog.

The reason why i only got round to photographing it now was because there were cars always parked in front of it when I went to get photos. A pain in the arse for anyone who likes to photograph Street Art.

There’s not a lot of people around on Sunday mornings, so I made the most of it.

If you’re looking for an exact address, it is on Gresham Street, beside a pub that was known as The Hudson but is now known as Peaky Blinders. Apparantly, it’s a popular TV show.

I’ll let you in on a secret, pubs in Belfast or popular TV shows aren’t a specialist subject of mine.

If that address sounds familiar, that’s because it was previously home to a mural of David Bowie, which was painted a few weeks after he died in January 2016.

That mural of Bowie is now gone.

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EAST BELFAST STREET ART – MARCH 2018

If you’ve been in East Belfast recently, and been very observant, you will have noticed some new Street Art appearing.

At the start of March, there was an event planned called Wardrobe Jam, where some new Street Art would be painted. This was scheduled to be part of a bigger event called Belfast Arts Weekender. Unfortunately, due to the extreme weather, it had to be cancelled.

Running alongside this, was the first of three new murals to be painted in East Belfast. The first one was titled Linenopolis and appeared on Tower Street.

It was by a Manchester based duo called Nomad Clan.

If that name sounds familiar, that’s because they did a piece at The Dirty Onion for Hit The North.

Eastside Partnership documented this on their Social Media channels. This is how it looked on 28th February.

This was followed by Friz, regularly featured on this blog, getting to work on a mural on Townsley Street, beside CS Lewis Square. It is of Jadis from The Chronicles Of Narnia, appropriately enough.

Once again, Eastside Partnership documented the progress of this. This is documented on their Social Media feeds. This is how it looked on 7th March, 8th March and 9th March.

Unfortunately, I was in work, and with the evenings not getting lighter yet, I didn’t get a chance to get some photos until the weekend of 10th March, and then again the following weekend.

Eventually, I got photos of Friz’s finished mural on the weekend of 24th March..

Keep an eye out for the mural of CS Lewis on Pansy Street being restored. I got some photos of how it is currently, while out getting.

I got some photos of the mural way back in 2008. You can find a photo of it here.

The clocks have gone forward and Summer is getting closer, which means it’s not too long until Hit The East. There’ll barely be an empty wall in East Belfast at this rate.

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BELFAST SNOW – MARCH 2018

Whenever I did my snow blog last December, I didn’t expect to be doing a follow-up so soon afterwards. Certainly not at the start of March.

When it comes to snow, I am such a big kid, and can’t get enough pictures of it.

Unfortunately, I was in work on Thursday, so I had to make the most of what opportunities I had.

So, I got up early on Thursday morning to get some photos of Belfast City Centre before work.

One advantage of it snowing in March, is that the mornings are a lot brighter than in December/January, which you can use to your advantage when taking photos.

I managed to get photos of Belfast City Hall and Victoria Square. Belfast City Hall is one of my “big three” when the snow comes down for getting photos, the others being Ormeau Park and Windsor Park. I would get photos of Ormeau Park on the Saturday. Unfortunately that was at the expense of Windsor Park. The snow had gone by Sunday morning, meaning I couldn’t get the photos I wanted.

Thursday lunchtime was spent at the upstairs part of the Fountain Centre, some of which was closed off, unfortunately, these were the areas I wanted to visit, and try and get some aerial photos.

I was out of work early on Thursday afternoon, but not substantially early to take advantage of it, though I did get some photos of Botanic Gardens on my way home.

By Friday morning, there wasn’t anything additional, and that looked like being that in terms of my snow adventures.

Or so I thought, as I woke up on Saturday morning and Belfast was covered in snow, and it was still coming down.

I headed out to get some photos, starting with Ormeau Park.

When it snowed in December, Ormeau Park offered some fantastic photo opportunities, so I headed out to make the most of it.

As a bonus, Ormeau Park was full of 13/10 doggies, though it is like that all year round.

By this point, Linfield’s match, scheduled for Saturday afternoon, was now postponed, so my snow adventures weren’t timebound any more.

I headed into the City Centre, which was mostly slush, before heading home through Stranmillis/University, which was a lot more photographable.

By Sunday morning, the thaw had arrived, and the opportunity for snow photos had gone.

Apologies for the lateness of this blog, I had some laptop issues to deal with.

I don’t anticipate having to write another snow blog anytime soon, but you never know.

Photo Album – Thursday 1st March 2018

Photo Album – Saturday 3rd March 2018