PAUL HEATON AND JACQUI ABBOTT – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 21.10.2017

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott returned to Belfast, a 4th concert since 2014, for a concert at The Limelight, a venue they last played in June 2014, with their last two Belfast concerts being in Ulster Hall.

It was billed as an early show, with Heaton and Abbot on stage just after 8.30pm. The crowd were ready for it, the venue packed as the support act took the stage.

Members of their backing band casually wandered onto the stage, with drums and keyboards kicking off proceedings. It looked like a false start as the crowd waited for Heaton and Abbott to appear, before they eventually appeared.

The crowd were clapping and and footstomping along, as they did for most of the concert.

Heaton stated that this was the 25th time he’d performed in Belfast, before clarifying that he just made that stat up, and didn’t actually know how many times he had performed there. He did comment that he preferred coming to Belfast in the 80s and 90s when nobody else did, commenting that the same people who were shocked at them visiting the city are now talking about how cool it is now.

As he introduced Old Red Eyes Is Back, he dedicated it to the people of Belfast.

He did also say that it was 30 years since he was first in Belfast, a Pearl Anniversary, and suggests that an appropriate present would be a Pearl Heaton CD.

We were treated to some forgotten Beautiful South classics such as Blackbird On The Wire and The Table. The Table is one of my favourite Beautiful South songs, but it didn’t chart that high due to it being the fourth single from Quench.

At the grand old age of 55, Heaton has passed his driving test, he proudly told the audience, at the fourth time of asking with only one minor. He then proceeded to introduce the backing band and Jacqui Abbott by what car they drive.

The reason why the introductions were taking place mid concert were that, according to Heaton, the tour had been jinxed so far. One of Jacqui Abbott’s friends fell in the shower and had to go to hospital, while the previous night was described as a disaster, but no reason was given why.

The previous night, they were doing a concert in Cork. So, if any Corkonians can fill me in, feel free to do so.

At the start of Rotterdam, Heaton disappeared as this was a song sung solely by Abbott, but he then reappeared to play harmonica at the end.

As with their previous gigs, we delved into Paul Heaton’s back catalogue with The Housemartins and The Beautiful South. With so many songs to choose from, it’s natural that people would be disappointed at not hearing all of their favourites.

Five Get Over Excited, You Keep It All In, Don’t Marry Her and Good As Gold were all on the setlist, that would have kept a lot of people happy.

We also got Perfect Ten, with disco style drums and guitar, allowing Heaton to show off his dad dancing. Abbott was also getting involved. I’m not sure what the woman version of dad dancing is. Mum moving?

It wasn’t planned, but it was a happy accident, but I ended up being surrounded by people who were shorter than me, meaning I got a clear view. Also, everyone in the crowd was so sound, footstomping and clapping away.

You don’t realise how much a dead on audience adds to the enjoyment of a concert until you’re at a concert and surrounded by shitebags.

Thankfully, this was shitebag free.

They were enjoying themselves so much, they lost track of time, and announced they didn’t have long left due to a curfew set by the venue. It was a nice set-up as Heaton asked what the time was, answering his own question that it was Happy Hour.

Because of this, there wasn’t going to be a long encore, just the one song. With only a little time left, it was perhaps apt that they played A Little Time, a country/rockabilly/boogie woogie version of it.

As they left the stage, Heaton told the crowd “See you soon”.

So, touring in 2018?

If so, hopefully, someone from Belsonic is getting ready to book them. I quite fancy a bit of toetapping in the sunshine at Ormeau Park next June.

Ok, sunshine in June in Belfast is a bit ambitous.

Photo Album

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall 2016

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight 2014

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RYAN ADAMS – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 8.9.2017

Load of rubbish. He was on stage for two hours and didn’t play Summer Of 69.

Might as well get that out of the way first. It was Ryan, not Bryan Adams. Curiously, they share the same birthday, fifteen years apart.

Bit of a late one this, only getting a ticket three days before the concert, with tickets being sold out on the first day of sale. Curiously, for an event listed as “Sold out”, there was a lot of space in the venue.

This was supposed to be his first Belfast concert since 2012, except that it was his first Belfast concert since the previous night.

He was bored on Thursday night and was looking for something to do, so via the power of Social Media, he did a quickly arranged gig in McHugh’s, with profits going to Assisi.

If you want, you can view clips from the McHugh’s gig here.

It was 2001 that I first got into Ryan Adams with his album Gold, and singles such as New York New York and Answering Bell.

It was 14 years later and 12 years earlier came the album that turned him into a Panto Villain in the eyes of the internet, which is literally the worst thing you can be due to him causing anger for “Mansplaining” (Not a real word. Anyone who uses it should not be taken seriously) 1989 by Taylor Swift.

There were no Taylor Swift covers, but we were treated to a two hour trip through his back catalogue, and a lot of guitar solos, and then some harmonica solos.

The highlight of which was New York New York.

I would have love to have heard Answering Bell and So Alive, it didn’t matter, Ulster Hall was very much alive.

Photo Album

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 25.8.2017 (CHSQ)

Bit of a late purchase this, as I waited until Linfield definitely weren’t playing on the Friday night of the Bank Holiday Weekend before purchasing my ticket, as Ocean Colour Scene rolled into Belfast to perform as part of CHSQ.

Custom House Square isn’t a new venue for Ocean Colour Scene, having performed a free concert there in 2007 (and a few minutes in 2008) as part of Belfast City Council’s celebrations when 2007 turned into 2008.

For me, it was my forth OCS gig, with Mandela Hall in 2010 and The Limelight in 2016 being added to that Custom House Square concert.

There was confusion as to when the band were due to appear, with the organisers saying 9pm, but the band’s Facebook site saying 9.15pm.

Considering that those who were waiting for the band were drenched due to the inclement weather, it would have been nice if they came on at 9pm.

The band are still touring the 20th anniversary of Moseley Shoals, released in 1996.

I’m not a fan of anniversary tours. Just play the hits for crying out loud.

Anyway, this year is the 20th anniversary of the far superior Marchin Already.

Support came from Carl Barat and The Jackals, a side project of Carl Barat from The Libertines. Apart from two songs (Don’t Look Back Into The Sun, Gunja Din), i’m not that arsed about The Libertines, so wasn’t grieving the fact I missed him.

The main support came from The Coral, back after a haitus, best remembered for mid 00s such as Pass It On, In The Morning and Thinking Of You, all well received by the crowd who danced along with complete disregard for how wet they were.

As well as having to wear my coat hood over for most of the gig due to the rain, I also spent most of the gig having to cover my nose due to the sheer number of smelly tramps in attendance.

I go forwards, I go backwards, I go left, I go right. No matter where I went, I was getting cigarette and vape smoke blown in my face. It was a plague. A fucking plague of smelly tramps. That is the only word to describe it.

Seriously Belfast, sort this fucking shit out. It’s not cool.

Having missed their gig at The Limelight last December due to a back injury, Oscar Harrison was back on drums.

That gig in December 2016 wasn’t the first time he had missed an OCS engagement in Belfast.

In October 2001, I met Steve and Damon when they went to the bar I worked in after appearing on The John Daly Show. Alan White from Oasis was filling in on drums and I met him too.

I just thought i’d drop that story in about the time I met half of Ocean Colour Scene and a member of Oasis.

One advantage, or disadvantage, or a band playing an album in full is that you know the order of the setlist when you arrive.

Track 1, The Riverboat Song, with it’s distinctive guitar riff kicked off the show. In a normal show, it would have been saved for the encore.

During the early stages of the show, Simon seemed to be channeling Freddie Mercury, trying to be a showman, even engaging in dad dancing, quite appropriate for the singer of a band derided as “Dad Rock” by their haters.

I’m as shocked as you that there are people who hate Ocean Colour Scene.

He even forgot the words a few times but nobody minded. He was even laughing about it with the crowd.

Even though it was just under nine months since their last visit to Belfast, Simon Fowler told the crowd the band were “Too long away from Belfast”, referring to a near seven year gap between Belfast gigs before that.

After all the songs from Moseley Shoals were completed, we were then treated to non Moseley Shoals hits such as Better Day, Traveller’s Tune, Hundred Mile high City and Profit In Peace.

For the encore, Simon appeared on his own with an acoustic guitar before telling the crowd to “Welcome Carl to the stage”.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, it wasn’t Carl Frampton.

It was Carl Barat, who walked on to stage and flicked a lit cigarette in the direction of the crowd, narrowly missing a Security Guard who was stood with his back to the stage and unaware to move for his own safety. What a dick.

Imagine being in a band with a Professional Junkie who thinks he’s a poet and still being the biggest dick in the band.

They performed a duet of Robin Hood, which then morphed into a cover of Live Forever by Oasis, with Simon declaring “I loved Oasis” before the band finished with a cover of Daytriper by The Beatles, and The Day We Caught The Train.

Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight December 2016

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square Photo Album

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2017 (AND KASABIAN, NOT LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2017)

“We’ll be back soon” said Blossoms singer Tom Ogden at the end of their concert at The Limelight in March. He was true to his word, with the band returning five and a half months later to support Kasabian at Custom House Square.

It was a nice treat, to have two bands on the bill I want to see, rather than viewing the support act as a way of filling time before the headliner.

Kasabian are one of many high profile acts who have had Blossoms supporting them in recent years – Paul Weller, The Courteeners, The Charlatans and The Kooks have all had them as support. I saw them support Paul Weller at Waterfront Hall in 2015.

Next month, will be their biggest support slot to date, when they support Noel Gallagher at his concert to reopen Manchester Arena.

To dismiss them as a support act is harsh. These boys have tunes.

Restricted to a 45 minute set, they had to play the hits. Considering they’ve only released one album, they’ve already had quite a few hits, such as Blown Rose, Getaway, At Most A Kiss and Honey Sweet, all getting the approval of a crowd who were getting drenched while the set was ongoing. We even got an instrumental version of Gimme Gimme Gimme, just like at The Limelight in March.

Just like at The Limelight in March, the band asked for a member of the audience who had been just dumped to dedicate My Favourite Room to.

At The Limelight, it was Orla (apologies if that’s not the spelling she uses) who had been dumped by Ryan. I don’t know if she was there on Tuesday.

The lucky winner, if you will, was Emma, who had just been dumped by Jack. Jack was booed by the crowd. If you’re reading this Jack, you’re a bastard.

My Favourite Room also included singalongs of Half The World Away By Oasis and Last Christmas by Wham!

I say singalongs, it was Tom singing the first line of a verse, and the crowd doing the rest.

If drunks can sing Fairytale Of New York on St Patrick’s Day, then it’s more than acceptable for people to sing Last Christmas in August.

As the band neared the end of their set, finishing on Charlemagne (voted the best song of 2015 by this blog), Tom Ogden asked the crowd if they were excited for Kasabian, before giving a shout out to Touts.

Touts were the band who were on before Blossoms, and supported them at The Limelight in March and at Castlefield Bowl in July. They’ll be supporting Paul Weller at Ulster Hall early next year.

If you saw them, you probably thought they were called Tights, due to their Peeeyuuurrrre Deee-errry (Or Peeeyyyurrree Leeonndonddeee-errrrry, if you prefer) accents.

I didn’t catch any of their performance and wasn’t really fussed about that, to be honest.

It can’t be unsaid about the sheer number of smelly tramps at this gig. Seriously, it was embarrassing, trying to find somewhere without having cigarette or vape smoke being blown into my face.

We are the majority, yet our nights out are dictated by smelly tramps who haven’t even the basic decency to consider those around them and go a few hours without.

I’m fed up about outdoor events being ruined by these tramps, having to walk through the City Centre holding my nose on my lunchbreak, and don’t even start me on how useless Eventsec are at stopping this at international football matches.

It might seem drastic, but surely it’s worth putting anti-smoking clauses into the granting of licences.

Some smelly tramps might get their feelings hurt by this, Fuck em. It’s not my problem, and my enjoyment of events shouldn’t be dictated by them. I give more of a fuck about my lungs than I do about their feelings.

If there must be a compromise, built a hut for them and let them do their trampy wee habit away from everybody else.

I know I write about this a lot, but I will continue to do so until either authorities tackle it or there are societal changes in Belfast.

No amount of glossy Game Of Thrones themed advertising can disguise the fact that Belfast is a smelly smoke riddled shithole. It doesn’t have to be.

At about 8.45pm, I had managed to get a decent view, the rain had stopped, and I was in an area which had the least amount of smelly tramps surrounding me. I was all set for Kasabian.

Kasabian are no strangers to Belfast in August, with this gig falling on the tenth anniversary of them supporting The Killers at Tennent’s Vital, and just over seven years (by five days) since they headlined Belsonic at the same venue.

However, 2017 would not be joining 2007 and 2010 as Kasabian visits to Belfast.

An announcement came over the speaker “THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT …”

Nobody really paid attention. They just thought it was an automated health and safety announcment.

I have been to several Belsonic concerts in the past and never heard a health and safety announcment. It immediately struck me as odd, but nothing to get worried about.,

The announcement continued “….. DUE TO A LAST MINUTE …..”

I immediately thought to myself “Oh fuck”, I knew what was coming.

It continued “… ILLNESS, TONIGHT’S SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED. THERE WILL BE NO PERFORMANCE”.

The venue went silent and everyone was in disbelief. The announcement was repeated, and people began to take in what was being said.

The title of their current album For Crying Out Loud was quite apt.

The second time was met with boos, and booze, as some people chucked beer at the stage in disgust.

It clearly was a late announcement with Blossoms being unaware when their singer was under the impression Kasabian were performing as they were on stage.

Last year, The Kooks cancelled their gig at Feile on the day, so the organisers bumped The Coronas (who were supporting) into a headline slot and offered anyone who wanted to see The Kooks a refund.

Clearly, the cancellation was too late for a similar arrangement to take place here.

It was stated that a new dated would be announced. There’s not much room for maneuver from band and promoters or a Custom House Square gig in the immediate future.

It was expected that they would go on a Winter tour, the announcement will have been embargoed until their summer festival appearances had been completed.

That turned out to be the case.

There’s no Belfast gig. There was never going to be a Belfast gig on that tour, as we would have already had one this year.

There is a Dublin gig, and free days either side of it. Block out your diary for an Odyssey gig would be my hunch.

Anyone who had a ticket for Custom House Square will be compensated with admission to The Odyssey.

That’s just a hunch, I have no inside information.

That’s the second concert in a few days i’ve left early. One because I only wanted to see the support act, and the other because the headliners cancelled. It’s not a habit I want to get into.

You have to be philosophical, i’ll either get my money back or i’ll get to see Kasabian at a later date.

Let’s be honest, Kasabian will be playing a gig in Belfast in 2037 to promote Greatest Hits III, it’s not like they’ll never come to Belfast again.

As it turned out, there was a tunderstorm during when the band would have been performing their encore. That would have been, um, fun.

If you do want to read a Kasabian review, here’s their 2014 Odyssey concert.

Blossoms Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

AMY MacDONALD – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 19.8.2017 (CHSQ)

It had been a while since Amy MacDonald’s last concert in Belfast, nine years ago in 2008, something she addressed to the crowd, apologising for taking so long for coming back, which she said was “Too long” a gap.

She had announced a tour this year, there was hope of a Belfast gig, but it was not to be. There was a Dublin gig, but no Belfast gig. We do get annoyed when people play Dublin but not Belfast. There was hope, that she was being lined-up for a festival instead.

That proved to be the case, when she was announced to be supporting Foy Vance at Custom House Square in August.

August gave us hope that we would get to see Amy in the sunshine. We didn’t quite get sunshine, but we did get daylight and a dry sky. The weather was the first thing she commented on, saying it was great to see a blue sky, and a dramatic improvement on the weather she was soundchecking in.

I’ve been a long time fan of Amy, going back to her debut album in 2007. I remember a friend of mine didn’t like her. No reason given, just simply “I don’t like her”.

Ten years on, she considers herself a veteran at the age of 29. She won’t be 29 for much longer, she turns 30 next Friday, which she acknowledged during the show, stating that things have change since she first started gigging in 2005, that she now considers a cup of tea between songs as her version of rock n roll excess.

She stated that this was the most polite crowd she had played to, having believed that Belfast and her hometown of Glasgow to be very similar, but that if this gig was in Glasgow, there would be police horses and riots everywhere. A small section of the crowd booed at the suggestion.

Most of us were just toetapping and singing along.

When you tour so much, it is easy to forget where you are, with Amy commented that she almost replied “Danke schon” after getting applause from the crowd, having spent so much time in Germany this summer. She is so famous in Germany, that Joachim Low is a fan.

The set, around 45 minutes, was mostly stripped back, and featured hits such as Dream On, This Is The Life and Mr Rock N Roll.

I would have loved to have seen her perform Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over.

As mentioned earlier, she was supporting Foy Vance. Anywhere else, she would have been the headliner, but it was a “Home” gig for Vance, so she had to make do with second billing.

I’m not that really into Foy Vance, so I left after her set, I was only there for Amy and had a decent time of dry weather and a bit of toetapping. I even enjoyed the novelty of finding a smoke free area in the venue (just by sheer chance of being stood beside people who aren’t smelly tramps, rather than a designated area). An exception rather than the norm for outdoor concerts in Belfast sadly.

This concert was part of a new festival called CHSQ, which as abbreviation enthusiasts will tell you, means Switzerland Squared. What an odd name for a festival.

Although, I think it’s just trendy text speak for Custom House Square.

Having enjoyed a bit of late summer singing along and toetapping, it would be nice if we could do it again in Winter. She’s got an acoustic tour scheduled for November, so hopefully, she’ll be able to fit in a quick return to Belfast with her own headlining show.

Fingers crossed.

Photo Album

THE 1975 – LIVE AT ORMEAU PARK 16.6.2017 (BELSONIC)

The last time The 1975 played in Belfast, singer Matt Healy declared that they were getting so big they were running out of venues to play in Belfast. So it appears the solution was to give them a park.

Ormeau Park is the new venue for Belsonic, hosting it’s second gig of this year’s event, with Arcade Fire playing on the Tuesday before.

I’m not really that into Arcade Fire but I did consider going, but mainly for The Kooks, who were supporting. However, a cost of £45 a ticket just to see the support band was a bit offputting.

The Kooks announced a Dublin gig for January 2018 on Monday. I suspect it was embargoed as Belsonic were hoping Republic of Ireland based Kooks fans would travel to this, under the impression they wouldn’t be coming to Dublin.

It’s not uncommon for bands to announce Belfast gigs soon after playing Belsonic (KT Tunstall did last year), so i’m crossing my fingers for a Kooks headline gig in Belfast in early 2018.

Anyway, back to The 1975. The band were regular visitors to Northern Ireland during the period of their self-titled first album.

However, Northern Ireland had been a noticable absence from their touring to promote their not in any way creepily titled second album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unware Of It, so this gig was to be welcomed by their Northern Ireland fans.

Matt Healy welcomed this support, speaking about how so many people from “To be fair, such a small place” had come out to see the band.

As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the band to perform, there was added pressure in the fact that I was missing out on Paramore at Waterfront Hall to see this, that gig being announced for the same night, and I already had my ticket for this.

This was my first Belsonic at Ormeau Park, the only entrance being closer to the Ravenhill Road, which felt like a never ending walk on a warm evening, a rare occasion when the weather in Belfast behaved itself.

The band came on an burst into Love Me, the lead single from ILIWYS,FYASBYSUOI. Already a dancey song you can boogie to, partly due to it’s close resemblance to Fame by David Bowie, the thumping bass when played live made it sound so much better and dancier.

Unfortunately, as with any outdoor event in Belfast, Ormeau Park was riddled with smelly tramps, puffing and vaping away with no consideration for others.

They’ll probably gurn about their human rights being breached (ignoring my human right of some clean air when out enjoying myself), but seriously, just dig a fucking hole at the back and stick them in there and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves in peace.

As a city we need to have a serious conversation about this. It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to hold your nose and cover your mouth when walking in the City Centre and when at outdoor concerts.

I am absolutely no civic pride in Belfast. It’s a smelly shithole. No amount of Game Of Thrones related advertising can change that.

Although, one highlight was seeing a fat millbeg drop her feg, bend down to pick it up and then fall over. Not going to lie, it put a massive smile on my face.

As well as fagbreaths, crowd members were treated to a recent phenomenon of backpacks at concerts. Seriously, why the fuck do you need to bring a backpack to a one day concert?

There appears to be a correlation that the vast majority of fuckwits who aimlessly walk about from side to side (literally, every concert) appear to be wearing backpacks.

Hopefully, Belsonic will start banning people wearing backpacks like other events, or at least ask them to use their brains and make them put them down by their side.

I know these rules have been brought in as part of the fight against international terrorism, but stopping fuckwits banging into people is a happy spin-off

After a dancey start, the concert then had a few iffy moments, most notably an avant garde instrumental solo. The 1975 do music to dance to, people want to dance. Do the maths.

If I wanted to watch four men arse about on keyboards, I would have went to see Kraftwerk at the Waterfront Hall a few weeks ago.

Eventually, we got back on track, but then took a detour as Matt Healy started to talk about politics. I didn’t actually hear what he said, as a man behind me shouted “Oh for fuck sake, stop talking about about politics”

A very sound observation.

The main complaint was that there were too many slow songs. People wanted to dance, and made the most of it when the opportunity came.

Healy then introduced Chocolate, describing it as “self explanatory”.

In a weird way, I was tempted to eat a bar of chocolate I had in my coat pocket in a way of life imitating music, like that time I listened to Rotterdam by The Beautiful South on my ipod whenever I was in Rotterdam.

Before finishing their set, Healy spoke about their first gig in Belfast, in front of 25 people at The Oh Yeah Centre.

When he reminisced about it at their last Belfast gig, Ulster Hall in 2014, he said there were 15 people in attendance.

It’s like Oasis at The Limelight, the crowd gets bigger each year.

The next time The 1975 play in Belfast, he’ll be reminiscing about the time they played in front of 35 people at The Oh Yeah Centre.

Photo Album

The 1975 Live At Ulster Hall February 2014

GEORGE EZRA – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 26.5.2017

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I was at The Limelight on Friday night to see George Ezra in concert. The thing is, it’s supposed to be a secret.

Billed as the Top Secret Tour, it was anything but. Announced at a few weeks notice, taking in Northern Ireland (there was a gig in Derry the following night. Ezra had previously been to Derry in 2014 as part of Other Voices Festival), Republic of Ireland (gigs in Dublin and Limerick followed his brief stay in Northern Ireland), before moving on to Wales and then South-West England.

To use a football analogy, these were the music equivalent of pre-season friendlies, as Ezra aims to fine-tune himself and get match fitness (or should that not be gig fitness?) ahead of a busy summer of festivals.

However, a gig at The Limelight is in no way comparable to a kickabout against Dunmurry Rec. A Limelight crowd demands to be entertained.

Ezra is no stranger to The Limelight, having played there in October 2014.

Back then, his debut album Wanted On Voyage was enjoying it’s second week at Number One in the UK Album Chart, having eventually climbed there just over three months after it’s release.

Now, he is at another milestone in his career as he arrived in Belfast, getting ready to release his currently untitled second album, and Belfast was going to get a preview of this new material

Entering the stage at 9.30pm, I was home from his last Belfast gig by that point, he was held up by a band member not being ready, before jumping into Cassy O, one of the singles from Wanted On Voyage.

After that, he played a new song. Unfortunately, I was unable to get titles of the new songs.

Ezra then mentioned about travelling to Barcelona. The crowd cheered because they were anticipating him to play Barcelona. Well, not quite.

His debut album Wanted On Voyage was written while travelling around Europe, inspiring song titles such as Budapest and Barcelona.

This inspired one Internet Prankster to run a story that Ezra was planning to do a whole album about cities beginning with B.

The reason why Ezra was talking about Barcelona, was that he went back there to get inspiration for his second album, and found somewhere to stay using Airbnb, but chose the option of living with someone instead of having a flat to himself.

Eventually, he did play Barcelona.

He announced that this was his first gig in eighteen months, and had spent most of 2016 writing and recording, admitting that 2016 was the first year in his life that he felt scared and anxious by what was going on in the world, and that he felt like he was running away from it all.

Ezra said that the setlist will be a mixture of old and new material. Naturally, all artists have old and new songs. An artist on their second album doesn’t even have a mid point in their career.

One of the highlights of the new songs was one called (Something …..) Happy People. I didn’t get what the first word in the title was. It was nothing like the REM (with Kate Pierson on uncredited vocals) song that the title almost sounds like, but it’s still good.

A lot of the new songs had a Bluesey, Americanised sound, songs you can sing and clap along to, which most of the crowd did, before finishing with Budapest during the encore.

Ezra commented that he had to go to Belfast to get a tan, with this gig coming on the warmest day of the year, before commenting that he will be back soon.

Belfast may not be able to guarantee sunshine for his return, but it looks likely if he does return, it will be in a bigger venue than The Limelight.

Photo Album

George Ezra Live At The Limelight October 2014

THE DIVINE COMEDY – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 3.5.2017

If it’s May, that can only mean one thing. Eurovision. Well, yes, but that wasn’t what I was thinking of.

End of the football season? Well, yes, but again, not what I was thinking of.

Topless spides drinking in Botanic. Again, yes, but not what I was thinking of.

What I was thinking of was, the annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, the 18th running of this event. Always worth keeping an eye out when the line-up is announced, one of the highlights of this year’s event was a concert by The Divine Comedy. Another highlight was Rich Hall, who I saw two days after this concert.

Any concert in Belfast by a Northern Ireland act is usually billed as a “homecoming” even if the act isn’t actually from Belfast. Neil Hannon telling the crowd “Despite my accent, i’m one of you” in response to a woman screaming “Sold out!!!” in a Belfasty accent.

It was perhaps apt, given the comedic nature of the band’s name, that Neil Hannon was part stand-up when interacting with the crowd between songs stating that the venue reminds him of childhood camping holidays while declaring his love of tents, but hoping that this one doesn’t have any spiders.

This came just after performing a new song, How Can You Leave Me On My Own? about his domestic uselessness, while dressed as Napoleon.

He wasn’t dressed like that the whole show as he had a mid show costume change, changing into a suit, his tie then disappeared by the encore. It was one of those nights.

I remember getting into The Divine Comedy when Something For The Weekend was a UK Top 20 hit, buying their singles after that and being dismayed that their chart positions had two numbers, National Express in 1999 giving them a sole Top 10 hit.

One of those undercharting singles was Bad Ambassador, which Neil Hannon couldn’t remember what year it was released when introducing it. It was 2001 if you care.

Sipping a pint of Guinness inbetween songs, Hannon began grumbling “Drink. Feck. Arse”.

He wasn’t being a banter bore reciting Father Ted quotes. He had some justification. He only wrote the theme tune (Songs Of Love) to the show. The band performed this, with the crowd singing along, not to the words, but the iconic guitar riff known to fans of the TV show.

This being the month of Eurovision, the crowd then began shouting for him to do a cover of My Lovely Horse by Ted Crilly and Dougal Maguire. He decline, so the crowd began shouting “Go on, go on, go on”.

He still wouldn’t budge, preferring to play something, in his words, “obscure” in the shape of Something For The Weekend.

There may not have been a cover of My Lovely Horse, but the crowd were treated to two covers. First, was Alfie by Cilla Black. Why? “Because I like it” according to Hannon.

The second cover was an instrumental version of Blue Monday, kicking in when Blue Monday was mentioned in the lyrics to The Indie Disco.

Two stools were then brought onto the stage as Lisa O’Neill, who supported them then came on stage for a duet. There wasn’t just musical reasons for the chairs, with Hannon quipping “I’m 46 now”.

If you saw him dancing on stage, he didn’t look like a man who needed a breather as he said “See you soon” when leaving the stage.

A Belfast gig being added to their Winter tour looks a good bet.

Photo Album

The Divine Comedy Live At HMV Belfast 2016

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 8.3.2017

In life, people’s paths briefly cross before they head in different directions. That happened in February last year when Blossoms (not to be confused with the 90s TV show starring her from The Big Bang Theory) played a gig at The Limelight.

Since that gig, they’ve went on to have endless success. The band who supported them that night, Viola Beach, died the week afterwards in a vehicular accident in Sweden. Blossoms have paid numerous tributes to them throughout that year.

That gig at The Limelight was originally supposed to be in Voodoo, but was moved to The Limelight due to demand. This was six months before the release of their debut album.

Even at this point, the band were no strangers to Belfast, having already supported Paul Weller at Waterfront Hall on his Winter 2015 tour, a concert that I attended. I remember being excited by this news, thinking to myself “That’s the band that does that song Charlemagne that I love”.

In the early months of 2015, they also supported The Charlatans on their UK Tour. Both bands will be supporting The Courteeners at their massive headline gig at Old Trafford in Manchester this summer. The cricket ground, by the way.

And just recently, they’ve been announced as support for The Kooks when they tour Mainland Europe in May.

It isn’t all supporting slots, they’ve even got their own massive headline gig at Castlefield Bowl in July as part of Sounds Of The City, Manchester’s version of Belsonic. Mancsonic, if you will.

Over the last few years, they’ve been bigged up by Tim Burgess on Twitter. They’ve also been bigged up by this blog, making regular appearances on The Friday Five and Charlemagne being declared The Song Of 2015.

As mentioned earlier, Blossoms have had a lot of success over the past twelve months. Take your pick. An NME cover, Number 1 album, an appearance on the New Year’s Eve edition of Top Of The Pops, and a Brit Award nomination.

This week, you may have seen them on The Premier League Show on BBC 2.

This gig would be a brief stop off in Northern Ireland, before three Republic Of Ireland gigs in Galway, Limerick and Dublin. A hand warm-up for their NME tour later this month.

This was my first gig of 2017. I’d hoped it would have been The Pigeon Detectives at HMV last Friday night. It was advertised as an instore gig, but they just showed up, signed a few autographs and then left.

Support for this gig came from a band from Derry called Touts. They were pure Derry every time they opened their mouths. Or rather, they were Peeeyuuurrreee Deeeee-errrrry hai everytime they opened their mouths.

Their singer was a massive Wellend. He probably gets drunk on Football Special.

Fronted by a Wellend from Derry, it was no surprise they were heavily influence by The Jam and The Undertones, with also a nod to The Strypes. If that’s your thing, you’ll probably enjoy these guys.

They clarified that, despite the name, they’re not actually touts. The only informing they’ll do to The Police will be to inform them that they think Sting is a cunt. Probably.

The band appeared on stage, jumping straight into At Most A Kiss before playing favourites from their debut album such as Getaway, Blown Rose and Honey Sweet.

The most obvious observation is that Josh Dewhurst looks like Dimitar Berbatov and Tom Ogden looks like Steve McManaman, but with longer hair. In both cases. Once it is seen, it cannot be unseen.

It’s hard to describe the music of Blossoms. It’s a little bit Disco, a little bit Synth Pop and a little bit Indie, fusing all three to perfection, even managing to do an instrumental cover of Gimme Gimme Gimme by ABBA.

Further covers appeared when Tom Ogden (That’s a proper Greater Manchester name that. Probably related to Hilda) did a solo acoustic session, performing excerps from You’re Georgeous by Babybird and Half The World Away by Oasis.

Before this, Ogden appealed to the crowd for someone who had just been dumped. There were a lot of responses. Eventually, the winning member of the audience was a woman called Orla (Awwwwwww, poor Orla) who had been dumped. Twice (Awwww, poor Orla).

The most recent was by someone called Ryan, who got roundly booed. If you’re reading Ryan, BOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

The encore include Charlemagne, the winner of Best Song Of 2015, still sounding good in 2017.

Leaving the stage, the band stated they hoped to see Belfast again soon. Knowing the way the music industry works, hopefully a Belsonic announcement is being embargoed until the Irish tour is over.

There’s still a long way to go to match the success of fellow Stockportonians 10CC. To paraphrase one of 10CCs biggest hits, Belfast didn’t like Blossoms. They loved them.

Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …..)

December began for me with a trip to The Limelight, a venue I would be spending a bit of time at this month, to see Primal Scream in concert.

Two Days later, I was headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield get a routine win over Carrick Rangers.

I then headed out into Belfast to get some photos of a mural of Jack Nicholson

That night, I headed back to The Limelight to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following weekend, I was Bangor bound to see Linfield take on Ards, and then back to The Limelight (I know, becoming a regular) to see Cast in concert.

The morning after that, I was out on my bike to get some Street Art photos, in Great Victoria Street and a mural of Prince in Botanic.

On the middle Saturday in December, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield record a late win over Ballymena United.

The weekend before Christmas saw me being busy, taking in Ulster v Connacht for my annual Rugby match, and then the following morning heading to Seaview to see Linfield Swifts win the Steel and Sons Cup.

There’s still a bit of the month left. Two big Linfield matches, against Glentoran and Crusaders. I’m also hoping to get a chance to head to Lisburn to get some Street Art photos.

And then, that will be me for 2016. Don’t worry, there’ll be Camera Adverntures in 2017.

Primal Scream live at The Limelight

Primal Scream live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Jack

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Great Victoria Street Art

Great Victoria Street Art Photo Album

Prince Mural

Prince Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

Ulster v Connacht

Ulster v Connacht Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield Swifts

Dundela v Linfield Swifts Photo Album