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.
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.
“It’s been long overdue”, that was Tom Ogden’s words, not mine, on Blossoms return to Belfast.
He was right though, as he recalled “It was before Covid”, which was indeed correct, early March 2020.
That should have been the first of two concerts in ten days for me. The situation escalated so quickly that the second of those concerts was postponed and didn’t take place until over eighteen months later.
Before Covid, they were regular visitors to Belfast, it was almost an annual event.
For me, this would be a fourth different venue seeing them.
The first time I saw them was in Waterfront Hall supporting Paul Weller in 2015.
I only knew of them then as the band who did that song (Charlemagne) that I loved.
Three months later, they were at Voodoo. As much as I loved Charlemagne, I didn’t know any other songs so I didn’t go.
Then came a near annual visit to what would become their spiritual home, in Belfast at least – The Limelight.
March 2017, November 2018 (I missed this as I was at a United match) and then March 2020.
A few months later, came a visit to Custom House Square where they were the support act for a Kasabian concert that never happened.
So this would be a new venue for Blossoms in Belfast, I was surprised by it when it was announced.
I had been to Telegraph Building before, but only once, in 2019 to see Two Door Cinema Club, so I knew what the venue was like.
Support came from a singer called Kynsy, who scored very high on the Toe Tap Chart.
I had made a mental note to buy one of her CDs on the way out but I had forgotten by the time the concert ended.
I’ll have to remedy that at some point soon.
In other new CD news, I got the new Bruce Springsteen album. It wasn’t until the morning of this when I went for a walk up Blackmountain so I listened to it on the drive there. My only CD Player is in the car.
If you care, I give it a thumbs up.
A new venue for Blossoms, surprisingly it wasn’t a sell out.
There was a lot of people in the room, but there was still some space on the floor. More room for dancing I suppose.
Dancing was what a lot of people were doing as Blossoms blasted through their hits, playing songs such as At Most A Kiss, Honey Sweet, Blown Rose, I Can’t Stand It, If You Think This Is Real Life and Your Girlfriend.
The band then left the stage, leaving Tom on his own to do an acoustic set, starting with my favourite room.
In my previous times seeing Blossoms, this had been the cue for Tom to appeal for someone in the crowd who has recently been dumped in order to dedicate the song to them.
Not this time, that was bypassed.
One tradition was upheld, that the song then merges into covers of You’re Georgeous by Babybird and Half The World Away by Oasis.
As it was December, there was an extra one added, with an acoustic version of Last Christmas by Wham!
I’ve checked the rules of Whamageddon and this is ok. Cover versions are allowed.
Unfortunately for me, I would have been already out if I was actively playing it, as Ikea were playing it at full blast at the entrance to their store on Saturday morning as I was walking in.
The rest of the band then reappeared, to perform There’s A Reason Why and Charlemagne.
Hopefully, their next visit to Belfast won’t be a near three year wait.