THE PRETENDERS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 23.5.2023

Another Bucket List Band ticked off. I’d always loved The Pretenders, so it was great to get the opportunity to see them. Especially so as they rarely play Belfast, 2001 was their last visit according to internet research.

As I walked towards The Limelight, I could see Venue Staff unloading beverages, presumably for the band. All bags from Tesco. Nothing but Tesco Finest for Chrissie Hynde.

This was billed as “Unreleased songs and absolutely no hits whatsoever. Well, maybe a few” on the poster. That is exactly what we got. Even though some of the big hits were missing, there was enough to keep people happy.

The first of those hits caused the crowd to think that Chrissie didn’t know where she was.

As she shouted “It’s great to be here in …………” followed by silence, before people started shouting “BELFAST!!!!!”

Turns out, she was waiting for the drum solo to Message Of Love. It was the Drummer’s fault. It’s always the Drummer’s fault. Oldest rule in rock n roll.

The unreleased songs referred to in the build-up? The Pretenders have a new album coming out in September 2023.

Hynde loved not quite a story, but rants and statements inbetween songs. Known for being a bit of a Sweary Mary, she did not disappoint in that regard.

She had the whole crowd bamboozled as she recalled the places they have visited during their brief Irish tour, naming some place that she wasn’t sure what the correct pronunciation was.

There was an awkward silence as nobody knew where she was referring to. Nobody could even try and guess where she was referring to. To this day, everybody who was still is still confused.

Although, her lack of knowledge of how to pronounce place names might be down to the fact that she declared herself to be the only American with no Irish ancestry whatsover.

A big fan of The Smiths, she recalled conversations with Johnny Marr and wished a Happy Birthday to Morrissey. The Belfast crowd were agreeable to him getting Birthday wishes, although he might not have been in the mood to celebrate following the death of Andy Rourke.

Also on her hit list of rants was to ask why bands prefer to play stadiums instead of venues such as The Limelight.

We even had a quiz, with fans being asked what band’s t-shirt they were wearing. It looked like an easy one, as nearly everybody shouted out Joy Division.

Turns out the answer was Low, she even went to see them in concert in London.

There might not have been a prize for guessing what t-shirt she was wearing or for guessing what place she was talking about. However, there were some people who left the venue feeling like winners.

Chrissie Hynde threw some of her plectrums into the crowd. It was like in The Crystal Maze in that round where people are in a glass box scrambling to get prizes.

And I was one of the lucky ones to get a plectrum.

Photo Album

PAUL HEATON (BUT NOT JACQUI ABBOTT) – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 22.2.2023

It had been a near three wait, and we lost one of the double act, but it was worth it.

Easter Saturday 2020 was when I should have been seeing Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, at Ulster Hall.

As you know by now, the world took an unexpected turn of events and that got postponed.

Then postponed again and again and again, to the point it got cancelled.

When that cancellation was announced, I was given a window to transfer my ticket in exchange for a ticket to see them at St Anne’s Park in Dublin instead.

I declined that and got a refund. Regular readers will know that I can’t be arsed with outdoor concerts due to being unable to breathe because of tramps on the fegs. I have to look after myself, nobody else will.

Refund back in the bank account, a new concert was announced, so it was off to The Odyssey I headed.

More recent concerts had been at either The Limelight or Ulster Hall, so this was a bit of a jump.

The venue was filled but not full, if that makes sense. Put it this way, there was a bit of wriggle room if you wanted to dance.

A week before, it was announced that Jacqui Abbott wouldn’t be appearing on stage for this concert, resting under Doctor’s orders, having previously missed concerts at the end of 2022.

There would be an able substitute to take her place, in the shape of Rumer.

I wasn’t overly familiar with her. I had heard some songs and was agreeable to them.

She was support act for this concert, and then after a break, would join Paul on a few songs towards the end.

Trev and Simon wouldn’t be on the support bill despite guesting in their recent videos. That was rather disappointing.

Heaton declared his joy at the bond he has with Belfast, coming here to perform for 37 years.

Although, he did lay down a challenge in terms of CD sales.

At each concert, they keep a track of how many CDs get sold at the merch stall, ranking each place they visit. Dublin got a bit of a pasting for their capacity to sales ratio. Hopefully, Belfast wasn’t getting slagged off at the concerts that followed this.

Paul Heaton is such a big star, he has his own Personal Cup Of Tea Bringer, what a job, who walks on stage every couple of songs to bring him a cup of tea.

Unsurprisingly, the playlist was a mix and match from three different stages of his career, beginning with Paul and Jacqui’s most recent single I Drove Her Away With My Tears.

A few songs in, we had a block of Beautiful South hits such as One Last Love Song, Everybody’s Talking and Old Red Eyes.

Of course, it would have been rude not to have a block of Housemartins hits, which followed, featuring The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death and Five Get Over Excited.

Heaton then introduced the band by what football team they support. Leeds and City got booed, a rare feeling of civic pride in Belfast. There are a surprisingly high amount of Rochdale fans in Belfast going by the cheers they got.

Sheffield United got booed, which prompted some rude hand gestures to the crowd in response from Heaton.

The absence of Jacqui Abbott presented difficulties on how some of the songs should be performed, the obvious one being Rotterdam.

Heaton performed it himself, justifying it with “I wrote it”.

That was the cue for Rumer to join him on stage, taking over the Jacqui Abbott role for Song For Whoever, Don’t Marry Her and Good As Gold before they left the stage.

Of course not, there was an encore to come, Heaton saying “I Believe in value for money”

That encore began with Happy Hour, unfortunately the lights were flashing when Paul started dancing, so we couldn’t get to see it in all it’s glory. That was then followed by Perfect Ten, done live as a disco bop.

A quick exit followed by a second encore, featuring You Keep It All In and Caravan Of Love.

It felt like this concert was jinxed. A three year wait, cancelled, then a new one announced with a different venue, then half the line-up was unavailable. It was worth it.

In other concert news, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and KT Tunstall have been announced for Dalriadafest. Tempted by this. Need them to be on the same night and to be able to get there, but very tempted in principle.

Photo Album

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight 2017

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall 2016

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight 2014

2022 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR ….)

December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a tip to Telegraph Building to see Blossoms in concert.

A spell of frost descended on Belfast, but now snow. I was all psyched up for snow photos, for nothing.

There was then a football free weekend for me, with Linfield in Scotland.

The following weekend, I headed to Ulster Hall to see Ash in concert, followed by Linfield’s home match against Dungannon Swifts.

As you will have noticed, there is still a week of the month left.

What I have planned is Bangor v Dunmurry Rec, Glentoran v Linfield, a walk up Cavehill and possibly Lisnabreeny Hill.

Here’s to more phototaking in 2023 and beyond.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building Photo Album

Ash live at Ulster Hall

Ash live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

ASH – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 16.12.2022

30 years? Did Ash get together in school? Well, yes, but I was thinking Primary School or Nursery School. Surely they can’t be that old?

Believe it or not, it has been 30 years since Ash formed, so they headed to Ulster Hall to do a celebratory concert.

Exactly a year to the day since their 25th anniversary concert at The Limelight.

Probably should have paid attention in Maths instead of forming a band.

Well, there is a simple explanation for that.

The concert in December 2021 had been delayed by eighteen months from the Summer of 2020, and was originally to celebrate a quarter of a century since they first released music.

When they have a concert in Belfast in December, it gets informally labelled The Ash Christmas Bash.

This was my fourth such Bash, having attended in 2015, 2018 and 2021, although the 2021 wasn’t originally scheduled for that month, or even that year.

You will have noticed they are triennial, so I wasn’t expecting another one until 2024, but such a milestone deserves a rewriting of the unwritten rule.

One thing that is guaranteed at The Ash Christmas Bash is chaos. If you love chaos, then this is the concert for you.

There was the added bonus with the late announcement that this would be filmed and broadcast live on the BBC website and made available in audio on BBC Sounds.

If you want to, you can watch it here.

As showtime approached, Gemma Bradley appeared on stage with her back to the crowd to do an introductory piece to camera, then we heard The A-Team Theme over the speakers, but not as we know it.

Seemingly, in 1977, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and relocated to Downpatrick.

We were then treated to a cover version of Flash by Queen, except it was “ASH!!!! SAVIOURS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!”

I would genuinely love it if they recorded this version and performed it live.

You could tell it was a big night as Tim turned up in a blazer, although this was dumped a few songs in. Mark’s idea of formal was to wear his favourite Star Wars t-shirt.

We were informed by Tim that Mark was still vowing vengeance on whoever stole his Princess Leia cardboard cutout at a gig at The Limelight many years ago.

As it was a very cold night outside, we were all relying on Ash to warm us up. It certainly was warm and sweaty in the venue.

The setlist began with a few biggies such as Goldfinger, Shining Light and A Life Less Ordinary.

For some reason, when I go to a concert, I like to stand on the left hand side of the floor. No idea why, I just do.

From where I was stood, I could see who was loitering at the side of the stage. I spotted an Undertone.

However, it would be a Snower (perhaps appropriate for this time of year) or a Patroler joining them next on stage, with Nathan Connolly joining the action, just as he did in 2015.

More biggies followed in the shape of Uncle Pat and Oh Yeah before Tim started asking where the Bass Player was.

I had originally thought he had nipped off to the toilet for a minute, but it turned out he has jumped into the crowd. I only knew that the next day because a friend on Instagram was posting selfies with him.

By now, Mark was back on stage. There was now a guest star entering the arena, Santa Claus himself, coming on during Kung Fu, dancing and doing kung fu.

Kung Fu Santa, now that is a film that has to be made.

Not sure what the plot is, but Santa and Kung Fu is a sure fire winner.

Whilst the weather had been cold all week, the weather didn’t deliver any snow, so Ash brought snow to the crowd, a confetti gun firing off white confetti into the crowd. I was covered in it, some of it was falling all over my house when I got home.

The band let us in on a little secret that i’ll share with you – They’re working on new music for release in 2023.

They then played Darkest Hour Of The Night, a recent song but a favourite for me.

That was then followed by Girl From Mars.

It would be a Boy From Stroke City and a Boy From Coleraine who would be entertaining the crowd in one of the more bizarre musical collaborations ever.

Damian O’Neill, the Undertone that I spotted loitering at the side of the stage came on. He’s appeared on stage with them a few times, he should probably ask for full membership.

On guest vocals, James Nesbitt. Yes, that James Nesbitt, taking off his coat to reveal a retro Northern Ireland shirt with “Ash 30” printed on the back.

I did warn you that The Ash Christmas Bash is chaotic.

As the band finished their set, the chaos didn’t end there, with Jump In The Line (AKA, Shake Shake Shake Senora) by Harry Belafonte playing on the speaker, giving Rick the opportunity to escape from behind his drumkit to showcase his dancing skills.

The rest of the band were making their way to the Dressing Room, came back to join him and showcase their dancing skills.

A rather enjoyable 30th anniversary concert.

Might as well mark Friday 20th December 2052 in the diary.

Photo Album

Ash live at The Limelight 2021

Ash live at HMV 2020

Ash live at The Limelight 2018

Ash live at Titanic Slipways 2018

Ash live at The Empire 2015

2022 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began with a trip to Shamrock Park to see Linfield eventually beat Portadown by a score of 3-0.

By this point, I was using up Annual Leave, so I went on a day trip to Dublin and got some Street Art photos.

That was then followed by two trips to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville and Glenavon.

Another Linfield match, this time on the road, to Ballymena.

The next day, I made the most of a football free Saturday morning to head to Lisnabreeny Hill to get some Sunrise photos.

Then that night, I made my first visit to the newly rebuilt Mandela Hall to see John Power in concert.

November ended with two Linfield matches, both at home, against Larne and Crusaders.

Portadown v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballymena United v Linfield

Lisnabreeny Hill

Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

John Power live at Mandela Hall

John Power live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Crusaders

2022 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield

2022 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September began with a trip to Ballymena to see Linfield get their season back on track with a 4-0 win at Ballymena.

Football then took a break for a bit, but I was back on the road, and visiting a new ground as Linfield travelled to Moyola Park in the League Cup.

More travelling followed, not as far, three days later as Linfield faced Crusaders at Seaview.

Having a football free Saturday, I got up early for a long overdue trip to Giant’s Ring to get some photos as the sun was coming up.

Two days later, was an unexpected Public Holiday, so I headed on the North Down Coastal Path, starting at Helen’s Bay for a change, making my way to Bangor West. I think.

On the following Saturday morning, I made a long overdue return to Belvoir Park Forest before heading to Windsor Park at teatime to see Northern Ireland face Kosovo.

My final adventure of the month was a first concert since June, to The Odyssey to see George Ezra.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Moyola Park v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

Giant’s Ring/Terrace Hill Gardens/Minnowburn

Giant’s Ring/Terrace Hill Gardens/Minnowburn Photo Album

North Down Coastal Path

North Down Coastal Path Photo Album

Belvoir Park Forest

Belvoir Park Forest Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Kosovo

Northern Ireland v Kosovo Photo Album

George Ezra live at The Odyssey

George Ezra live at The Odyssey Photo Album

2022 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Two football matches, two concerts and a trip to Newcastle. That was June.

It was Windsor Park-Limelight on a rotating basis, with Del Amitri and Feeder being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s matches against Greece and Cyprus.

At the end of the month, I went to North-East England (and a bit of Yorkshire), although the only photo adventure was a trip to Jesmond Dene in Newcastle,

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Del Amitri live at The Limelight

Del Amitri live at The Limelight Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Cyprus

Northern Ireland v Cyprus Photo Album

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene Photo Album

2022 IN PICTURES – MAY

May began with a trip to North Street to take in the Hit The North Street Art Festival, getting photos of the pieces of artwork as they were created, and then the finished artwork.

The following weekend, I treated myself to a trip to Scotland, spending most my time in Edinburgh, getting photos of Street Art (of course) and walking up Arthur’s Seat and going for a stroll in Colinton.

It would have been rude not to go to a football match, Livingston v St Johnstone being my match of choice before a day trip to Glasgow saw me get more Street Art photos and visit Cathkin Park, an abandoned football stadium.

Towards the end of the month, it was all about Friday nights, first of all winning a ticket to see Ulster v Sharks.

Then, the last Friday of the month, I went to see Queen (well, half of Queen, but it was still so good) at The Odyssey.

Hit The North

Hit The North Photo Album

Hit The North Aftermath

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Livingston v St Johnstone

Livingston v St Johnstone Photo Album

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow Street Art Photo Album

Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park Photo Album

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat Photo Album

Colinton

Colinton Photo Album

Ulster v Sharks

Ulster v Sharks Photo Album

Queen + Adam Lambert live at The Odyssey

Queen + Adam Lambert live at The Odyssey Photo Album





2022 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April began with a football free Saturday, so I headed to Scrabo Country Park, got lucky with the weather and got lots of nice photos.

The rest of the month was all about football, the next two weekends saw me attend Linfield’s matches against Cliftonville and Glentoran.

With two Public Holidays for Easter, I decided to go for walks up Cregagh Glen and then up Cavehill.

That was then followed by Linfield’s matches against Crusaders, Larne and Coleraine.

Just hours after seeing Linfield winning the League against Coleraine, I headed to Custom House Square to see Echo and the Bunnymen, my first concert of 2022.

Scrabo Country Park

Scrabo Country Park Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

Cavehill

Cavehill Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Coleraine Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom Hosue Square

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square Photo Album