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

2016 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October began with a trip to The Oval, to see Linfield take on Glentoran, play awful but grind out a 2-1 win.

The following Saturday, I went to see Northern Ireland take on San Marino, the first game at a fully redeveloped Windsor Park.

I then went home, and got a bit of sleep, before an early morning boat to Dumfries to see Linfield take on Queen of the South in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

The following Saturday, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United.

Two days later, I was Limelight bound to see Feeder in concert.

There were then two frustrating weekends as I was then Coleraine bound the following Saturday to see Linfield held to a frustrating draw, just as they were at home to Crusaders the following Saturday.

The month ended by going to see KT Tunstall in concert at Mandela Hall.

Glentoran v Linfield

Northern Ireland v San Marino

Northern Ireland v San Marino Photo Album

Queen of the South v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

KT Tunstall live at Mandela Hall

KT Tunstall live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – JUNE

June 2016 was a month that was dominated by Euro 2016.

The early days of the month were spent chronicling a mural in East Belfast to commemorate Northern Ireland’s qualification, getting pictures of the final piece upon my return from France.

Oh yes, I was in France. Wasn’t that fussed about France as a country, but loved the three matches (France v Romania, Northern Ireland v Poland, Republic of Ireland v Sweden) I was at.

I also got some Street Art photos in Paris, and London, as I flew back from Gatwick due to there being no Paris-Belfast flights on a Tuesday.

Not a lot else happened in the rest of the month. That was, until, the final, when I attended two Belsonic concerts.

Belsonic? Yes, this year, it moved to June (though there were later concerts in August) and I went to see Elli Goulding and Stereophonics.

And it was at a new venue, Titanic Belfast.

There was even some domestic club football this month, as the last day of the month saw Linfield lose 1-0 at home to Cork City in the UEFA Cup.

Pride, Passion Belief

Pride, Passion, Belief Photo Album

Paris Street Art

Paris Street Art Photo Album

France v Romania

France v Romania Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Poland

Northern Ireland v Poland Photo Album

Republic of Ireland v Sweden

Republic of Ireland v Sweden Photo Album

London Street Art

London Street Art Photo Album

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Linfield v Cork City

CAST – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 10.12.2016

It might seem like The Limelight is hosting a month long 90s revival festival, as I headed there for the third time in just over a week, this time to see Cast, just over a year since they were last in Belfast, also at The Limelight, in October 2015.

Unsurprisingly, it was a hits heavy set, it’s easy to forget that they had ten Top 20 singles between 1995 and 1999.

The highlight for me was Finetime, which sounds as good live as it does on record. One of my favorite songs ever, not just amongst Cast songs.

Their hits during their chart heyday were always catchy, with the crowd being able to recognise and sing along within seconds of the band starting to play.

It’s wasn’t all old stuff, there were some new songs as well, as the band have a new album out in February called Kicking Up The Dust, with the title track being played as well as Birdcage and Roar. Birdcage was the highlight of the new songs played.

John Power took the time to tell the crowd about his walk around Belfast earlier that day, that all he could see was people wearing Christmas Jumpers, hitting home for him that Christmas is approaching.

As the band played their final song, John Power said “See you soon” and walked off the stage. Each band member left individually leaving drummer Keith O’Neill the last one on stage, entertaining them with a drum solo.

If Cast split up again, he could always go on a solo tour.

Then, followed confusion, as the fans awaited what the expect an encore. It soon became apparant there was going to be no encore, which prompted boos from a section of the crowd.

Belfast is a city of poets and thinkers with a unique grasp of the English language, and a gentleman beside me eloquently summed up his thoughts when he shouted at the empty stage “THAT’S FUCKING SHITE ………. SO IT IS”

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise decent gig.

Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight October 2015

Cast live at The Limelight October 2015 Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – MAY

May 2016 began for me by going to see Space. Not the planet, but the band, doing a gig at The Empire.

The following day, was the Irish Cup Final between Linfield and Glenavon, the less said about that game, the better.

The following weekend, I was in Manchester and managed to get some Street Art photos, including one of a mural of David Bowie in the Northern Quarter.

It certainly made up for not seeing any football, after the Manchester United v Bournemouth match that I travelled over for was postponed.

Towards the end of the month, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Belarus in their final home game before heading to Euro 2016.

Two days later, I headed to Dublin on a day trip, taking lots of Street Art photos and going to see Bohs take on St Patrick’s Athletic, my first visit to Dalymount Park in six years.

Space live at The Empire

Space live at The Empire Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Glenavon Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Bohemian FC v St Patrick’s Athletic

Bohemian FC v St Patrick’s Athletic Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April 2016 began for me at The Odyssey to see Muse in concert.

The following Saturday, I headed for Seaview to see Linfield lose to Crusaders, a match that killed off their title hopes.

Another concert soon followed, this time it was to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at Ulster Hall.

Back to football, and a double whammy of convincing Linfield wins, over Coleraine and Glentoran.

The match against Coleraine allowed me to check out the facilities in the South Stand for the first time since it was officially opened.

Towards the end of the month, Prince died, and Belfast wasn’t slow in paying tribute, a mural appearing within a day of his death.

I then headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Around that time, I purchased a new camera as my camera was broken beyond repair. I was still getting used to it, so that’s why some photos towards the end of the month are a bit different.

Muse live at The Odyssey

Muse live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

Purple Rain

Purple Rain Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 4.12.2016

Ocean Colour Scene made a long awaited return to Belfast, their first gig in the city since March 2010, to perform their breakthrough album Moseley Shoals in it’s entirety to commemorate the 20th anniversary of it’s release.

I know, i’ve done the maths, recaulculated it and checked my working out, but 1996 was 20 years ago. I’m as shocked as you are.

Album Anniversary Tours is a practice i’m not really a fan of, I think it’s a bit of a nonsense. I like going to gigs and not knowing what is going to be played, hoping to hear my favourite songs and even being disappointed if the band doesn’t play a song I want them to play. It’s a bit boring if you know what is going to be played and in what order.

However, knowing that I would be guaranteed to hear The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train and The Circle made it worth the admission fee.

There was no support act, just a unseen DJ blasting out 90s Hits, to get the crowd in the mood, as the band entered the stage playing a cover of Daytripper by The Beatles, before moving onto the songs from Moseley Shoals, the opening track being The Riverboat Song, with it’s distinctive guitar riff.

The crowd knew every word, Simon Fowler even taking a step back to let them sing one of the verses.

There was a notable absence on stage in the shape of Oscar Harrison, who was suffering from back problems. He missed their recent Spanish shows, and it was anticipated that the Belfast gig would be his comeback.

Unfortunately, it was too soon for him,

It wasn’t the first time he’s had to miss a Belfast gig due to a back injury. I’m going to bore you with an anecdote about the time I met 50% of Ocean Colour Scene and 20% of Oasis.

In late 2001, I was working part-time in a bar in Belfast City Centre. One Wednesday night, I walked past a man who looked like Damon Minchella from Ocean Colour Scene and thought nothing of it. Then, I saw Steve Craddock, and it turned out it actually was Steve and Damon from Ocean Colour Scene.

They had just come from Blackstaff Studios where they had filmed a performance for The John Daly Show. Simon wasn’t there and neither was Oscar. He was replaced by Alan White from Oasis. I met him, Steve and Damon and was chatting to them.

Obviously I end up disappointing people when I tell them that i’ve met somebody from Oasis and it turns out not to be a Gallagher.

Simon told the crowd that Oscar said hi.

He wasn’t the only member of the band who has missed giggs through illness, as Ray Meade, now Bassist as Damon Minchella has since left the band, missed some gigs due to a Collapsed Lung, and this was his comeback.

Having had the spotlights put on the crowd, Simon told the crowd they are beautiful, before adding that they were not as beautiful as the Spanish, with the band having come to Belfast after gigs in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Tony Coote was the Drummer filling in for Oscar, described by Simon as a “Genius” due to learning the setlist inside 45 minutes, though there was one song where Steve Craddock was made hand gestures at him to indicate how he should be holding the drum sticks.

Surprisingly, as a former journalist, Simon Fowler let slip a bit of an exclusive by revealing that Boy George had recorded a duet for Paul Weller’s new album, before then sheepishly and apologetically looking to his bandmate Steve Craddock for letting the info slip.

For those who don’t know, Steve Craddock divides his time between Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller’s backing band, so he would obviously be a good source of information for Paul Weller related news.

There were a few ringers on the set list, including some hits from their follow up album Marchin Already, such as Better Day and Hundred Mile High City.

Better Day is a forgotten classic and my favourite OCS song, so I especially enjoyed getting to hear this live.

We even got treated to Profit In Peaces, as in, it was actually on the setlist and not an impromptu performance like at their last Belfast gig, because a fight had broken out in the middle of the floor while they were performing another song.

The only downside was the sheer volume of smelly tramps in the venue, constantly having to hold my nose to avoid breathing in vapes. Someone needs to tell these cunts that it’s not a competition to see how much and how far you can puff out.

It’s bad enough these cunts ruining outdoor concerts for everyone, now they are determined to ruin indoor concerts for everyone now.

I couldn’t help wonder if Better Day and Hundred Mile High City were a teaser for a 20th anniversary tour for Marchin Already, which was released in 1997.

Though this is Belfast, and with a title like that, there would probably be a resident’s group to protest it.

Just don’t leave it nearly seven years before returning.

Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010 Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square 2007 Photo Album

PRIMAL SCREAM – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 1.12.2016

Never have I demanded a band entertain me as much as when Primal Scream brought some Chaosmosis to The Limelight, having been loaded (no pun intended) with the cold and should probably have stayed in the house, but having paid for a ticket, it would have been a waste not to go.

One definite plus point was the early stage time, advertised as 8.15pm but closer to 8.20pm. The last time they played The Limelight, they went on stage at about 8.30pm, catching a lot of people out.

They opened with a heavy guitar version of Moving On Up in comparison with the recorded version in what was an unsuprisingly hits heavy setlist.

There were new songs on the setlist with singles from new album Chaosmosis such as 100% Or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Feeling Like A Demon Again already being popular live songs and standing up against their classics.

It was hard to make out Bobby Gillespie when he spoke between songs, the only thing I could make out was that they made an album in Tennessee in the early 90s.

Gillespie spent most of the gig high fiving the front rows, prompting the smelliest woman in history to spend a few minutes climbing over me to try and get a high five which never came.

One of the highlights of any Primal Scream gig is Loaded, and the introduction which people instantly know what it is when they hear the words “Just what is it that you want?”

The answer, was to get down in Belfast Town apparantly, with Country Girl being changed to Belfast Girl. A cynical attempt to curry favour with the crowd, not that they needed to resort to such tactics.

As the band left the stage, I managed to be in the lucky position of cleanly catching a playlist that was thrown into the crowd. Somebody offered me 75p for it on my way out.

There’s no immediate Northern Ireland gig on the horizon for Primal Scream but there is a headline slot at Bundoran Sea Sessions in Donegal next summer.

Very very tempting.

Photo Album

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013 Photo Album