ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 3.5.2019 (CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS FESTIVAL)

If I was Philip Lowry, i’d be insisting that Echo and the Bunnymen perform at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, as they performed at the event for the first time since 2010, the last time he scored in an Irish Cup Final.

It wasn’t their first return to Belfast since then, stopping off in the city in 2015, but not since.

To the frustration of their Belfast fans, they made a visit to Dublin last year when touring their most recent album, The Stars, The Oceans and The Moon, an orchestral reworking of their greatest hits.

Fans in Belfast were treated to their greatest hits, but no orchestra, it was the crowd who provided the support, singing along to all of their favourites.

It was the weekend of Ian McCulloch’s 60th birthday, which took place two days after the concert, a section of the crowd signing Happy Birthday to him. I’m not sure if it was to celebrate his birthday. but he prepared for this gig with grub at Fish City.

It wasn’t the first time i’d seen a pop star on or around their birthday. In fact, it wasn’t even the first member of Echo and the Bunnymen, having seen them in Glasgow in 2013 the day after Will Sergeant’s birthday, when McCulloch got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to him.

Outside of The Bunnymen, I saw The Kooks the day before Luke Pritchard’s 30th birthday in 2015.

Throughout the concert, McCulloch complained about having itchy feet, but that he wasn’t prepared to take his shoes off as it wasn’t a good look. Didn’t do Sandie Shaw any harm.

For some reason, some numpty in the crowd kept chanting “Pete De Frietas”. You know the sort, tedious bores who think they’re funny and that the band want to have “Banter” with them.

McCulloch corrected his pronunciation of “De Freetas” by pointing out it was “De Freytas”

Among the hits performed were Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Rescue, Never Stop, Villiers Terrace, Nothing Lasts Forever, Seven Seas, The Killing Moon and The Cutter.

The version of Nothing Lasts Forever was a nice chilled out acoustic version of the song, one of a few songs which saw them deviate into snippets of covers of famous songs such as Jean Genie, Walk On The Wild Side, Don’t Let Me Down and Sex Machine

With so many big hits in the main set, it was interesting to see what they saved for the encore. They finished with Lips Like Sugar and Do It Clean.

Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Mandela Hall 2015

Echo and the Bunnymen live at SECC 2013

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square 2010

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KT TUNSTALL – LIVE AT ELMWOOD HALL 5.3.2019

Tuesday nights are the new Saturday night.

Well, maybe that’s a bit too far, but it was the third of four successive Tuesday night adventures, going Music-Football-Music-Football.

After Chvrches and Newry City v Linfield, it was back to music, and a first concert at Elmwood Hall for me.

I had previously been there, to see Norman Whiteside at The Belfast Festival in 2012, while I was also at the Fine and Dandy Market a few weeks previously.

Elmwood Hall is the venue now being used to effectively replace Mandela Hall, less than a minute away, coincidentally, the venue KT Tunstall played for her last headline show in Belfast.

I should have been back there more recently than this show. I had a ticket for Simon Day in October last year, but unfortunately that was cancelled.

When I was at the Fine and Dandy Market a few weeks previously, the first thing that came to me as I walked around the hall was, where on earth are they going to put the stage?

That was answered as I arrived, with an erected stage taking up quite a lot of the floor, meaning we were all squished in and very close to the stage.

As she entered the stage to Mickey by Toni Basil, jumping straight into a new song In This Body, joking about how it is good to get the unknown songs out of the way first.

Up next, was something a bit more well known, Other Side Of The World, encouraging the crowd to get their phones out as she attempts to turn Elmwood Hall into an “Enormodome”, reassuring that she won’t verbally abuse anyone in the crowd like Chrissie Hynde, fangirling over Hynde having toured with her and Simple Minds the previous year.

I remember being very annoyed at that Simple Minds/Pretenders/KT Tunstall visited everywhere except Belfast.

The version of Other Side Of The World she performed was far superior to the one on record, heavier drums and more guitar led.

The second night of her tour, she promised the audience a good show. Well, maybe not a good show, but that it would be less shit than the previous night, while also telling the crowd to pretend that it’s Saturday night.

In her previous Belfast show, she spoke a lot between songs, telling stories behind the songs or just general chit-chat.

She asked if anyone had travelled far to be at this concert, someone in the crowd shouted “Dunmurry” which seemed to impress her until someone shouted that it was in West Belfast. She was then actually impressed when somebody shouted that they had travelled from Tipperary.

It was lucky for one audience member that she wasn’t adopting the Chriss Hynde attitude to phones, as someone’s phone went off during a solo performance of Feel It All, she mockingly put on a Norn Iron accent, saying “You’ll never guess what, she’s performing Feel It All”.

When recalling a tale of doing karaoke of her own songs, she did a brief cover of Faith by George Michael, disappointing the crowd by not playing it in full, as it is her karaoke song, before giving us a brief cover of Black Betty by Ram Jam during Black Horse And The Cherry Tree.

We did get treated to a cover in full, asking the crowd “Who likes the 1980s?” before performing I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany, even though that song itself is a cover of a song from the 1960s.

At the end of the show thanking the crowd for coming to see her, reading out a list of alternative things that were on in Belfast, one of which was a coding class at Ashfield Boys School.

She had forgotten to do that at her concert in Dublin the previous night, so we got treated to what Dublin folk missed out on by choosing to see her, which included a balloon artistry workshop, but not EA Sports Cup games at Bray Wanderers and Shelbourne.

Overall, a very enjoyable evening.

Up next for me, is Echo and the Bunnymen, as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which was announced a few days after this concert.

Coincidentally, it was the day after Rik Mayall’s birthday. He once sent an angry letter to Ian McCullough.

Photo Album

KT Tunstall live at Mandela Hall 2016

RAZORLIGHT – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 22.2.2019

Playing at, in their words, a “Special place” to them, Razorlight made a welcome return to Belfast with a gig at The Limelight.

I’d previously seen them before, but it was a while ago. It was so long ago, it was when Tennent’s Vital was at Ormeau Park, as they appeared alongside Manic Street Preachers in 2007.

Back then, they were riding high following the success of their self titled second album, with massive hits such as In The Morning, America, Before I Fall To Pieces and I Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got. The second of that quartet, America, provided the band with their first, and so far only Number 1 single in the UK.

It was two years before, that I got into Razorlight. There was someone I worked with who was obsessed with them, and especially Golden Touch.

I didn’t really need to be persuaded, it’s a fantastic tune, as well as other singles from their debut album such as Rip It Up amd Somewhere Else.

Sticking to the industry standard of a new album every two years, they released their third album in 2008, Slipway Fires, with the lead single Wire To Wire, being a, um, slow burner, a grower of a song, but still well worth a listen. Despite that, it would be the only major single release from that album.

So, 2010 comes along, and we await Razorlight album number four. Then 2011, then 2012, then we just forgot about them, the band going on haitus until album number four, Olympus Sleeping, arrived in 2018.

All the hits that were mentioned were unsurprisingly played, as was the underrated Who Needs Love?, which was only an album track on their second album. If they released it as a single, it surely would have been a massive hit.

The band were on stage at around 8.15pm and off by around 9.30pm. Not going to lie, i’m a big fan of The Limelight’s early starts and finishes.

There, I said it, 00s nostalgia and sensible bedtimes.

Razorlight crammed as much as they could into their stage time, it was all killer and no filler, but no actual covers of songs by The Killers.

By this point, Johnny Borrell was very sweaty, and channelling his inner Mick Jagger when allowed to strut on stage without a guitar. The boy can’t help it, it’s not his fault, just a dangerous dangerous age.

Unsurprisingly, their biggest hit, America, was saved for the encore.

It’s a song that sounds best in the Winter months, the soundtrack to the end of 2006 for me, and a hug in musical form, that last line doesn’t sound weird in any way.

The sentiment, wasn’t that friendly, as Borrell made a dedication before the song, declaring “Fuck you” to Donald Trump and Fox News.

You could say the lyrics of the song are prophetic, but then again, all my life, panic in America.

Photo Album

CHVRCHES – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 19.2.2019

First concert of 2019 for me, and it was a first for the band, as Chvrches made their first visit to Belfast, as singer Lauren Mayberry declared this to be a sort of local gig for her, saying “I had a Granny McIntyre from near here”.

The band said during the show that they love touring so much, because it stops them from returning to Glasgow, where they hear about family friends and distant relatives dying.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though.

I’d first got into Chvrches back in 2013 when they released their debut album, with singles such as The Mother We Share, Recover, Lies and Gun, dreamy chilled out and atmospheric synthpop with a tune. Finally, they’d made it to Belfast.

Regular readers of this blog will know i’m a fan of Chvrches, featuring regularly in The Friday Five and The Sound Of, having the 14th best song of 2018, 7th best song of 2016, 3rd best song of 2015, and the 91st best song of 2013.

Wait a minute, isn’t Chvrches that Romanian guy that plays for Spurs?

No, that’s Vlad Chiriches, and he plays for Napoli now.

Support came from Let’s Eat Grandma, who were ok, very theatrical and dramatic, and there wasn’t a musical instrument that they didn’t play.

Coming from Scotland, Chvrches will be quick to tell you that Ye Cannae Throw Yer Granny Aff A Bus.

It was those hits that they jumped straight into, albeit more recent ones such as Get Out and Bury It.

Seeing the Mulholland Grand Organ (the keys were locked, much to their disappointment), they mistakenly believed the venue was a church, or a former church, pointing out the irony of a band called Chvrches playing there, a verbal exchanged which saw Martin Doherty being dubbed “The Phantom Of The Dochera” and “The Fanny Of The Opera”.

The gig wasn’t problem free, as the bass on the left hand side of the floor seemed to be a bit iffy, while Lauren was having microphone problems, stating she would prefer to have a headset microphone like Britney or Madonna, but stated that she wasn’t cool enough to use one.

One of the reasons that she wouldn’t want to use one of those microphones was that people would hear her mumbling and swearing inbetween songs, apologising to one young member of the crowd for using the mf word, while she sat on a box for a slow song, it was speculated, and hoped by the band that Gwyneth Paltrow’s head would be inside.

If you’re wondering, they explained that it was a reference to the film Seven, rather than them being weird Coldplay fans who wish ill will on her for divorcing, sorry, consciously uncoupling Chris Martin.

As the band appeared for their encore, Lauren commented that the applause she received made her feel like a sports star, though she was probably as knackered as one with the amount of pirouetting she did on stage.

It may not be the only time I see Chvrches in 2019, as the week before this, they were announced as one of the acts appearing at Summer Sessions, taking place in Edinburgh, the posh suburb part of their native Glasgow.

Regular readers will know I head to Edinburgh every August. I haven’t booked my trip yet, but the week when James and Madness appear at Summer Sessions a few days apart is very tempting.

Also recently announced was that Feeder will be headlining a night at Holywood Harmony, in Holywood, funnily enough.

As said last year, it’s good to see concerts in Northern Ireland outside Belfast. I’m tempted to head along to that. Good luck to them.

Photo Album

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ASH – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 20.12.2018

One last concert for me in 2018, as I headed to The Limelight to see the band I saw in my first ever concert, on the night that 1998 became 1999.

It fell on exactly three years to the day since their last indoor (outside of promotional appearances at HMV) concert in Belfast, at The Empire.

There was a previous Belfast appearance inbetween, with the band having performed at Titanic Belfast as part of Biggest Weekend in May this year.

There’s already a 2019 date in the calendar, but not in Belfast, but in Bangor, as support to Snow Patrol at Ward Park. Curiously, they didn’t mention that upcoming date during this concert.

They entered the stage looking different than they did at Titanic Belfast in May. Tim was now sporting a moustache which made him look like Freddie Mercury, while Mark now had his hair cut short, looking like Jason Orange. Meanwhile, Rick just looked like Rick.

The setlist began with a mixture of recent stuff and early stuff, before launching into biggies such as
Oh Yeah, Goldfinger and Girl From Mars.

As it was Christmas, we got some treats, such as a cover of Cantina Song from Star Wars, which had the crowd singing and dancing along, just as it did when they performed it at The Empire in 2015.

For the next cover, the fans were given a choice, as Mark Hamilton would perform an acapella version of Last Christmas by Wham or Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard, depending on who got the biggest cheer.

The winner of that was Wham, although it might have been a different scenario if the much superior Saviour’s Day was put forward as Cliff’s suggested song.

If anybody in the room was taking part in Whamageddon, they will have been relieved to know they weren’t yet out, as covers don’t count.

Tim said he wasn’t feeling very Christmassy as he hadn’t had any mince pies yet, but they then played There Is A Star as their sort of Christmas song, though Shining Light does mention Royal David’s City in the lyrics. Also played from Free All Angels, unsurprisingly, was Burn Baby Burn.

Rick was then given the billing of “The best glockenspiel player in Killyleagh”, which is a lot to live up to, but he lived up to, before Mark jumped into the crowd during the encore which caused a bit of a panic amongst Venue Security.

By now, the festive party was in full swing, with confetti now falling onto the crowd.

At their last two Belfast gigs, they’ve had guest appearance from members of famous Northern Ireland bands such as Snow Patrol and The Undertones.

For the encore, they had guest appearances from friends and family, as well as the support act, Brand New Friend, to perform a cover of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard.

As the band gave their bows to the crowd, guests still assembled, the PA system started playing (I think it might have been accidental) Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, with the band, led by Mark, lip syncing along to it, egged on by the crowd.

Halfway through the song, the music stopped, and the band left the stage, giving us a comical and chaotic end to an enjoyable evening.

Photo Album

Ash live at Titanic Belfast May 2018

Ash live at The Empire December 2015

2018 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

From Warrenpoint to Waterford, as the following week I spent a few days in Waterford seeing Waterford Walls, with a brief stop-off in Dublin.

The day after my return to Belfast, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The following weekend, a new ground for me to visit for the first time, as I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute.

The day after, it was a return to Windsor Park, and another bad home result, as Northern Ireland lost to Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

On the following weekend, I headed to The Limelight to see Cast in concert.

That was then followed by a good home result at Windsor Park, as Linfield beat Cliftonville 4-2.

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on BSC Young Boys and get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Waterford Walls

Waterford Walls Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

I had to wait until the 8th of the month for a photo adventure, heading to The Oval to see Linfield take on Glentoran.

That was then followed up by a trip to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Newry City.

Another weekend, another football match, as I then headed to the Seaside to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, began with Rugby, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Dragons.

It was back to football the following day as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The month ended with a trip to The Odyssey to see U2 in concert.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Ulster v Dragons

Ulster v Dragons Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ards on the first day of the month, for a match that finished 0-0.

The following day, I headed out on bike to check out the latest scribbles on the Belfast Peace Wall.

On the third day of the month, yes, three successive days of photo adventures, I headed to The Limelight to see The Kooks in concert.

The following weekend, it was a football double header, taking in Linfield’s trip to Warrenpoint Town, and then Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

There was more football, taking in Linfield’s matches against Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine.

Sandwiched inbetween that was a trip to The Palm House to see Kyle Falconer in concert, and then Belfast Culture Night.

In the aftermath of Culture Night, I was out getting photos of new Street Art which appeared in Belfast, as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with me taking in Linfield’s home match with Ballymena United.

Linfield v Ards

Belfast Peace Wall Art

Belfast Peace Wall Art Photo Album

The Kooks live at The Limelight

The Kooks live at The Limelight Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Kyle Falconer live at The Palm House

Kyle Falconer live at The Palm House Photo Album

Culture Night Belfast 2018

Culture Night Belfast 2018 Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

North Street Art

North Street Art Work In Progress

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

2018 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August 2018 was a busy month, and it began at Mourneview Park for the start of the 2018-2019 season as Linfield beat Glenavon 1-0.

The following weekend, I headed to Custom House Square to see George Ezra in concert. That was followed by a day trip to Bangor where I squeezed in some Street Art photos, including a mural of John Lydon.

It was then back to the football as I went to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup while on a short break in Edinburgh. I also managed to get some Street Art photos while in Edinburgh.

Upon my return to Belfast, was a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders.

The next few days were spent at Custom House Square, seeing Kasabian, Turin Brakes and Travis in concert.

The following Saturday was a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

George Ezra live at Custom House Square

George Ezra live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Bangor Street Art

Bangor Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Kasabian live at Custom House Square

Kasabian live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Travis live at Custom House Square

Travis live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

2018 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Not a lot happened in June 2018. All I did was go to see Richard Ashcroft and Liam Gallagher at Belsonic, and getting some Street Art photos out and about in Belfast.

Richard Ashcroft live at Ormeau Park

Richard Ashcroft live at Ormeau Park Photo Album

Liam Gallagher live at Ormeau Park

Liam Gallagher live at Ormeau Park

York Street Art

York Street Art Photo Album

Landmarks

Landmarks Photo Album