2017 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …)

Here we are, the final photo round-up of 2017, looking back at my adventures in December. Well, December so far.

December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

That was followed by a trip to Ulster Hall to see The Divine Comedy in concert.

I was hoping to follow that with a trip to Carrick to see Linfield play Carrick Rangers, but that was postponed due to snow.

I decided to make the most of a football free Saturday, by going out and getting pictures of the snow in Belfast.

There was one final concert for 2017, as I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans.

The following day, I flew to Manchester, to see United take on Bournemouth primarily, but I also managed to squeeze in some Street Art photos from Manchester and Salford Quays.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield play Warrenpoint Town and draw 3-3.

The following Saturday, it was another visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville 2-0.

There’s still eight days left in December, i’ll be at The Oval on Boxing Day, and then back to Windsor Park next Saturday for more photo adventures.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series looking back at 2017 In Pictures. I’m already looking forward to see what 2018 will bring in terms of photo adventures.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Belfast Snow December 2017

Snow – Friday 8th December Photo Album

Snow – Saturday 9th December Photo Album

Snow – Sunday 10th December Photo Album

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

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2017 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER 2017

November began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard. It was raining goals and raining rain as Linfield won 6-0.

From going West, it was going East that was next on my agenda, as Northern Ireland took on Switzerland with the aim of going to Russia. They lost 1-0.

The following day, it was a trip to Ballymena, to see Linfield lose 2-1.

The following Friday, the entertainment was of a musical variety, as The Killers came to The Odyssey.

The photos continued on a musical theme, getting photos of a Run DMC mural in Belfast, as well as some Street Art beside Apache.

It was back to football, seeing Linfield beat Coleraine and Glenavon.

The last day of the month saw me cycle to Lisburn to get some Street art photos, including a mural of Top Cat.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

The Killers live at The Odyssey

The Killers live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Run DMC/Apache Mural

Run DMC Mural Photo Album

Apache Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Lisburn Street Art

Lisburn Street Art Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

In the first week of October 2017, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Germany in a World Cup Qualifier.

That was sandwiched inbetween me going out around Belfast to check out Street Art which was painted as part of Hit The North, these pieces were still works in progress when I went to photograph them in September

The following day, I went to my one Rugby match a year, as Ulster beat Wasps in the European Cup.

It was back to football the following day, seeing Linfield take on Coleraine.

There was a glut of concerts towards the end of the month, going to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, OMD and Liam Gallagher, with Linfield’s matches against Ards and Crusaders sandwiched inbetween.

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Hit The North Mop-Up

Hit The North Mop-Up Photo Album

Ulster v Wasps

Ulster v Wasps Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

OMD live at Mandela Hall

OMD live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Ards

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

THE CHARLATANS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 11.12.2017

The last two Charlatans concerts in Belfast took place in tents. It was a fact that didn’t escape singer Tim Burgess as he commented on it, saying “Every gig we do here is in a tent” at the second of those, at Custom House Square in May 2015.

Two and a half years, they returned to Belfast (keeping up a recent run of coming here every two years) and we had found an actual building for them to perform in, The Limelight, which hosted the final night of their Plastic Machinery Tour.

It was a night that saw them blast through their hits, such as North Country Boy, Tellin Stories, Weirdo and The Only One I Know, which ironically, wasn’t the only one I knew.

We also got treated to Love Is The Key, not always played on their previous Belfast visits but one of my favourite Charlatans songs, if not my favourite.

Running it close in that regard is Blackened Blue Eyes, which wasn’t played. Can’t have everything I guess.

What we did get, was the (trademark?) dad dancing from Tim Burgess. It must be a Tim thing, as Tim Booth of James is just as bad, or good, depending on how you look at it.

There was a mixed reaction from the crowd then they introduced a song co-written with Paul Weller, with Tim commented that he was a mate. Tough Crowd.

What got the crowd going was the possibility of Tim stripping, as he took off his jumper to reveal a t-shirt, the crowd egging him on to strip, with guitarist Mark Collins looking on disapprovingly at them for doing so.

They did get to later see Burgess take his t-shirt off, but with a catch.

By the time of the encore, Burgess was resembling Joey in Friends when he was wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, as he was wearing three t-shirts.

The one that was visible was a green one with “SPROSTON” written on it, which he threw into the crowd, with a scrum following.

The t-short he was wearing now was one with “SALFORD LAD” written on it. He didn’t throw that into the crowd.

It probably wouldn’t have fitted me, but it would have been apt if I had caught it, as I was heading to Salford the following morning.

Later in the week, the band were announced as headliners for The Great Escape in 2018, so you can get your hopes up of a return to Belfast or Northern Ireland next year.

As well as classic hits, we got recent classics such as Plastic Machinery (Introduced by Ian Rankin on an LED Screen) and May The Good Times Be Never Ending.

The good times were never ending at The Limelight.

Photo Album

The Charlatans live at Falls Park 2013

The Charlatans live at Custom House Squad 2015

2017 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began for me at Wilgar Park, seeing Linfield take on Dundela in a Friendly.

The following night, was another Pre-Season Friendly, as I was on the road to see Manchester United take on Sampdoria at Lansdowne Road.

That weekend, I was travelling some more, heading to Edinburgh for a weekend away, getting some Street Art photos and taking in Edinburgh City v Montrose.

When I returned home, I was out getting some Street Art photos, the aftermath of Hit The East Festival in Eats Belfast.

The following weekend, the Irish League season started, with Linfield taking on Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park, followed by a midweek trip to Ards and a trip to Dungannon Swifts.

As soon as the final whistle blew at Stangmore Park, I was straight back to Belfast to see Amy MacDonald perform at Custom House Square.

A few days later, I was back at Custom House Square to see Blossoms warm up for Kasabian, or so I thought, as Kasabian pulled out at the last minute.

A few days after that, I was back at Custom House Square, to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballymena United.

My photo adventures for August ended by getting snaps of murals of Jimmy Cricket, Jimmy Nesbitt, Jimmy Young and Carl Cox.

Dundela v Linfield

Manchester United v Sampdoria

Manchester United v Sampdoria Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Montrose

Edinburgh City v Montrose Photo Album

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Blossoms live at Custom House Square

Blossoms live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

The Three Jimmys and Carl Cox

The Three Jimmys Photo Album

Carl Cox Photo Album

THE DIVINE COMEDY – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 7.12.2017

As fans waiting for The Divine Comedy to appear on stage at Ulster Hall, the warm-up playlist played Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon. Halfway through the song, the band appeared on stage led by the impish Neil Hannon, dressed in smart suits, though not as smart as James Bond. Neil Hannon, Licence To Thrill.

Yes. Yes. I know it’s the theme tune to The Spy Who Loved Me, i’m just using a bit of creative licence.

It was the band’s second Belfast concert this year, having played Custom House Square as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. It was a fact that escaped Hannon as he spoke inbetween songs, saying that it had been a long time since their last Belfast concert, before correcting himself that it had only been a few months.

Earlier, he had said he would be doing less chat, as people wouldn’t hear him anyway, declaring that the band will just continue to play “cool songs” as he introduced Generation Sex.

For this, and for a lot of people in and around the front row were dancing in sync, i’m not sure if it was by accident or if it just happened. They were dancing awfully though, but this isn’t Strictly Live, and nobody’s dancing was to be judged.

We were treated to favourites such as Becoming More Like Alfie and How Can You Leave Me On My Own? as well as a cover of Where Do You Go To My Lovely? by Peter Sarstedt, who died earlier this year, which was reference by Hannon when he described him as “A lovely man”.

They were even allowed to use The Ulster Hall’s own in-house organ for some of their set.

There was even a surreal moment when Neil Hannon had tried to interact with several people shouting at him.

One woman was shouting “Introduce the band” at him, while there was an embarrassing borebag who was shouting “Play My Lovely Horse” inbetween songs.

You’re probably imagining what he looks like, and yep, a definite Harp drinking Rugby sort. Even worse, over 50 and old enough to know better. It was probably the only night he’s allowed out over Christmas, a walking “Yer Da” joke.

Around me, you could hear people muttering “Shut the fuck up”, Neil Hannon even told him that, and another member of the band commented “You’ve been at every concert on this tour”. Metaphorically rather than literally i’d imagine.

Hannon would then let the crowd know that he was in control of the playlist, introducing the next song and telling the crowd that they would like it. They would, it was Something For The Weekend, quite apt as it was a Thursday night and so close to the weekend.

There may have been no My Lovely Horse, but we did get Songs Of Love, best known as the theme tune to Father Ted, with the crowd singing along to the riff that everyone knows and loves, with Neil Hannon proclaiming “Eat your heart out, Ronnie Hazelhurst” with Ronnie Hazelhurst being a composer of TV theme tunes, the theme to Only Fools And Horses being on his credits

Hannon left the stage, and returned, dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte, a costume that Hannon says he will be returning in three days time, very sweaty, with the “Sweat of a thousand gigs”

Those who enjoyed it had the opportunity to relive it, of sorts, as there was a live album called Loose Canon being sold at the merchandise stand, recorded during their Foreverland Tour of 2016-2017.

I’ve purchased a copy but haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. That will be the soundtrack to my next drive.

Leaving the venue to the early stages of a snow storm, curiously, it was the third time I had left an Ulster Hall concert to be met by snow outside, having done so after Ellie Goulding in 2010 and Paloma Faith in 2013.

Inbetween songs, Hannon was assisted by a very well dressed Roadie/PA known only as Alistair. Hannon said there could be a move about his life, as “Forrest Gump would have nothing on him”, to which the crowd showed their support for Alistair.

It was hard to know which if the two was the star of the show. Hannon could make a good case that it was him, having got a standing ovation as he left the stage following an encore that included National Express.

Photo Album

The Divine Comedy live at HMV Belfast September 2016

The Divine Comedy live at Custom House Square May 2017

THE KILLERS – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 17.11.2017

Somebody told me that The Killers were in Belfast for a concert at The Odyssey. Well sort of, only half of them were there, singer Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr, due with bassist Mark Stoermer and guitarist Dave Keuning deciding to sit out this tour.

They might only been at half strength, but they were at full power, though Flowers commented during the set “Look at how we’ve grown”, referring to the number of Support Musicians and Backing Singers on stage.

Talking of Ronnie Vannucci Jr, is it me, or does he look like Earl Hickey? Once you see it, it cannot be unseen.

Flowers also commented that it had been a while since The Killers were last in Belfast. It was only three years ago, not that long, relatively speaking. That night, at Tennent’s Vital, they were flogging a Greatest Hits album

It is the gap between Killers albums that has contributed to their absences from Belfast. Their current release, Wonderful Wonderful is their first album since 2012 and only their second since 2008.

During that time, Brandon Flowers has juggled Killers commitments inbetween releasing and touring (but he never played Belfast) two solo albums, like a modern day Phil Collins, but more listenable and with better hair.

Their last indoor concert in Belfast was at The Odyssey in 2013.

Flowers was the last person the enter the stage, having built up the tension, as the band went straight into the title track from their current album Wonderful Wonderful.

That was then followed by the lead single from that album, The Man, as a synth/keyboard in the shape of the male logo and pink confetti shot out into the crowd.

The Man is a dancing bouncing tune full of swagger, albeit sounding like Reflektor by Arcade Fire. The funky guitars on the live version sounded like a cross between Fame by David Bowie and Big Time by Peter Gabriel. Whatever it sounded like, it sounded fantastic.

This was then followed by their breakthrough hit Somebody Told Me, before the standout track from Wonderful Wonderful, Run For Cover, which was originally written for the Day and Age album, and does sound a lot like Spaceman, which was incidentally also on the setlist.

Other classic hits included Smile Like You Mean It and For Reasons Unknown.

Belfast got a treat in the shape of a cover of Teenage Kicks (previously done in Belfast), local to Northern Ireland but not to Belfast obviously. The crowd loved it. They might have just screamed out of control if Brandon had sang “I’m Norman Whiteside” on Mr Brightside. Sadly, he didn’t.

Current single Rut got an airing, The Killers were in anything but a rut.

There were more classic hits to follow in the shape of Human, Runaways, Read My Mind and All These Things I’ve Done, with a cover of Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits sandwiched inbetween.

For the encore, Flowers strutted onto the stage in a gold suit, more channeling Mr MacPhisto (Bono’s alter ego from the Zoo TV Tour) than Martin Fry from ABC.

The encore included classic hits When You Were Young and Mr Brightside.

To quote their biggest hit from their current album, The Killers still have plenty of gas in the tank. Belfast was in agreement that they were Wonderful Wonderful.

Photo Album

The Killers live at Boucher Road Playing Fields 2014

The Killers live at The Odyssey 2013

LIAM GALLAGHER – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 30.10.2017

You could say that the date and venue was apt. The Odyssey, 30th October. It was on that date in 2008 that Oasis played their last concert in Belfast. Nine years to the day, Liam Gallagher was back at The Odyssey.

He has been in Belfast in the time inbetween, playing there twice with Beady Eye in 2011, at Ulster Hall in April of that year and then at Custom House Square for Belsonic later that year.

Having already been announced for a festival on the Sunday night in Dublin (It’s a Bank Holiday Weekend in the Republic Of Ireland, in case you’re wondering) there was the hope that he might pop by in Belfast, especially as we missed out on his mini tour in June.

Our prayers were answered, with a Belfast gig to kick off his Winter Tour being announced.

It was originally in the venue where Beady Eye played their only indoor show in Belfast, Ulster Hall, but such was the demand, that was instantly upgraded to The Odyssey.

Before he was The King Of Twitter, Liam Gallagher was a Rock N Roll Star. On the evidence of Monday night at The Odyssey, that is still very much the case.

As he entered the stage with the classic Oasis walk-on of Fuckin In the Bushes blasting out, those were the words he uttered.

He could have been describing himself, but he was introducing the first song, Rock N Roll Star, track 1 on Definitely Maybe, a call to arms and statement of intent.

This was then followed by Morning Glory, the title track from Oasis second album. If you thought this was going to be a chronological look at Gallagher’s career, you would be wrong, we would be returning to Definitely Maybe throughout the night.

The first two songs were reminding us of who Liam Gallagher was, the next few songs were now looking at who he is now, dipping into his debut solo album, As You Were, named after his Twitter catchphrase.

The album stands up on it’s own merits. It’s decent. There are some A* songs on it and a few As. I reviewed it on Twitter. You can find it here.

And yes, i’ll be doing the same when Who Stole The Moon? comes through my letterbox later this month.

Gallagher was playing to a crowd that was well warmed up by the support acts.

First up, was Kyle Falconer, formerly of The View, now solo. His material sounded a lot like The View. If you like The View, as I do, then you’ll like it.

After him, was The Strypes. I’d previously seem them supporting Blur in 2013. I know, crossing the divide. If you love The Jam, you’ll love these guys. They are very good.

If you watch The Championship on Channel Five, you will recognise Get Into It, voted by this blog as the 2nd Best Song Of 2015. There’s no higher honour than that.

I was amused to see the singer in a smart suit and the rest of the band in jeans and trainers, it reminded me of a recent Top Of The Pops repeat on BBC Four where Bryan Ferry was wearing a tuxedo and the rest of Roxy Music were dressed like The Smiths.

I’m sure there were quite a lot of people in the crowd checking, double checking and triple checking their ticket to make sure they brought the right one.

There was bound to be someone who tried to get in with a ticket to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds for May 2018.

Both Gallaghers will be on tour throughout 2018, so if you’re dreaming of you know what, it will have to wait until 2019, 25 years on from Definitely Maybe and 10 years on from their split. Got to love nice round numbers.

The set was then to be dominated by songs from As You Were, with Greedy Soul, a bit of a grower, being up first, followed by debut solo single Wall Of Glass.

Up next was For What It’s Worth, a Beatlesesque ballad that stands up to any Oasis classic, sounding even better live than it does on record.

This was followed by Bold, a song debuted at festivals this summer, it sounded fantastic and was worth the wait to hear it on record, venturing into 80s Power Ballard territory as Liam sings “Lay it on me” over and over accompanied only by a pounding drumbeat.

Oasis fans love to psychoanalyse, and the line “There’s no love worth chasing yesterday” will have raised a few eyebrows considering that Noel Gallagher’s second album is called Chasing Yesterday.

Chinatown is one of my favourite songs from As You Were but it wasn’t played. Not that surprising as it is hard to see where it would fit in a live set. Fantastic song though.

We then returned to Oasis classics, with Some Might Say, led by a thunderous drum beat.

This might not be the place to mention “The N Word”, but as good as Liam sounded, it did miss Noel’s backing vocals. They are part of the reason why the song is so good.

As well as vocals, Liam was banging his tambourine He even threw on into the crowd. I narrowly missed out on it. If he had just a slight bit more power, it would have landed right into my hands.

Considering the scrum that followed, it was probably a good thing I didn’t catch it.

It wouldn’t be the first time Liam Gallagher caused a bit of bother by throwing something across a room at a concert.

I had a decent view. Then a fight broke out in front of me. While that was being broken up, I snuck into the space that opened up like a deep lying goalscoring midfielder. You snooze, you lose.

Then a moshpit started to my right, so more space opened up in front of me top move forward. Result.

More Oasis classics followed in the shape of Slide Away (Should have been a single) and I’m Outta Time (A forgotten classic) before returning to As You Were with the absolutely superb Come Back To Me.

Eternal crowd favourite Cigarettes and Alcohol was played. That’s what the venue was full of as well, fucking smelly tramps puffing and vaping away.

I really don’t want to add indoor concerts to outdoor concerts, football matches, going for a walk, eating outside on a nice day, going to a beer garden and queuing for a bus to the list of things you can’t do in Belfast without having cigarette smoke blown into your face.

Vapes are supposedly to get people off smoking. Bollocks. Every lunchtime I see the same old sour faces puffing away.

I’m going to raising this until this is addressed as a society and as a city.

Why should I have my enjoyment of events held to ransom by inconsiderate arseholes?

Belfast really is a city full of crayon eaters.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by women doused in weapons grade perfume which drowned out the smell.

To give an indication of where vapes stand in society, i’d rather breathe in eggy farts.

European Capital Of Culture my arse. European Capital Of Smelly Tramps more like.

For the encore, we were treated to Supersonic and an acoustic version Live Forever, Liam letting the crowd sing the bits sung by Noel.

As he finished his set, Liam described Belfast as “The bollocks”, telling the crowd that they knew that anyway.

The front page of Tuesday’s edition of Irish News had a photo of him, and a caption that said he sang Wonderwall. He didn’t.

I’m guessing someone wrote a review without being there. You could have guessed he would wheel out big Oasis hits, but Liam Gallagher is anything but predictable.

The only rendition of Wonderwall came in the Car Park as someone blasted it out on their car stereo. It was the only way to kill time in what felt like a never ending queue. It felt like that by the time we were going to get out, we’d be having to about turn to get a parking space for Noel’s concert in May 2018.

Liam tweeted that there are many things he would like to say to Belfast but he didn’t know how.

He could say he is coming back.

Oh wait, he is.

On the Friday before, it was already announced that he would be returning to Belfast in June 2018 to play at Ormeau Park at Belsonic.

Liam Gallagher. Belsonic. Saturday night. It’s a potent combination. There’s going to be a lot of whoppers at it. It’s something we have to put up with unfortunately.

Just imagine if Northern Ireland qualify for the World Cup and are playing their opening group match that day. That will be fun.

Live Forever was the last song, the lights came on and Sid Vicious version of My Way.

Hopefully, the end is near and Liam Gallagher’s career isn’t heading to the final curtain.

It certainly was an apt way to end, Liam Gallagher does it his way.

Photo Album

Oasis live at The Odyssey October 2008 Photo Album

OMD – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 24.10.2017

“It’s great to be back, it’s been a long time” said OMD singer Andy McCluskey to the crowd at Mandela Hall. He wasn’t wrong. It had been 8 years since they were last in Belfast, supporting Simple Minds at The Odyssey. You have to go back to 1991 (Ulster Hall) for their last headline concert in Belfast, referenced by McCluskey during the set. Paul Humphries didn’t remember that gig, possibly because he had left the band by that stage.

I love Simple Minds and OMD. To be honest, I have no clue why I didn’t go to that Odyssey gig. I genuinely can’t think why. What a wasted opportunity.

It is the pester power of Northern Ireland fans that brought them back to Belfast, as McCluskey recently stated in an interview with Sunday Life.

For me, it began with a sick day off school in 1996.

I flicked through the channels and spotted something on the music channels (There were only two back then, it was VH1)

It was a cheery, happy, Britpop song called Walking On The Milky Way by a band called OMD. I loved it. Little did I know it was different, very different from the rest of their back catalogue.

I did know, not to confused them with OMC, who were in the charts around the same time. How bizarre.

A while later, I heard Enola Gay on a radio station. I knew I liked two OMD songs. I only knew two OMD songs.

By 2002, I had recently joined the Music Library at Belfast Central Library. I decided to be curious and borrow The OMD Singles, a 1998 Greatest Hits compilation.

I was not to be disappointed. Not once was the skip button pressed. It became one of my favourite albums.

At this point, Andy McCluskey was enjoying chart success, including the number 1s that eluded OMD in his new role as Songwriter for Atomic Kitten.

OMD would later reform and tour, but there was to be no Belfast gig, until now.

When I arrived at the venue, I wasn’t really in the mood for it. I was tired, had a sore head, and was drenched due to walking from Belfast City Hospital. The reason why I was parked there because people in Elmwood Avenue found parking one car in one parking bay to be too much fucking effort.

Forget about The Punishment Of Luxury, this was The Punishment Of Idiot Drivers.

The band appeared on stage, with Andy doing his trademark Dad Dancing. At 58, he is of peak Dad Dancing age. His best Dad Dancing years are still ahead of him. In truth, he has been dad dancing since his early 20s.

I googled his name for this article just to make sure if was McCluskey rather than McCloskey. The first suggestion was “Andy McCluskey Dancing”

Two songs in, he grabbed his Bass, proceeding to play it like Brian May rather than John Deacon.

To keep up with the Queen theme, we even had the fans doing a Radio Ga Ga style clapping in unison during Locomotion.

McCluskey then asked the crowd if they had their dancing shoes on. He certainly had. The answer was a resounding yes.

He was putting his life in his hands dancing on stage, saying that the stage was sticky due to years of cheap university beer. Ahhh, the (in)famous Mandela Hall sticky floor. I’d forgotten about it until he mentioned it. It wasn’t too bad where I was. You don’t think they’ve got round to finally cleaning it?

I wasn’t sure if I was an a Pop Concert or an Aerobics Class. Either way, it was brilliant.

Nevermind Aerobics Oz Style, this was Arobics OMD Style. I might pitch that to Sky Sports as a TV show idea.

If Joan Of Arc had a heart, it probably would have been racing from all the dancing.

Paul and Andy then had an onstage argument, sort of. It was staged as Paul, dripping of sweat, complained about standing under the lights, and that Andy’s job was a “Piece of cake”, so Andy invited him out to sing, which he did, performing Forever Live And Die.

While doing so, he was hit by a bra thrown from the crowd, but carried on like a pro, adding that the bra wasn’t his size.

Fans arriving were given a chance to vote for a song to appear on the setlist on a poll via the website, with a magic password for this at the venue.

The choices were The New Stone Age and Generic Engineering.

Genetic Engineering won with 75% of the vote.

Andy introduced this by saying that people had voted wisely, unlike a couple of Junes ago when they voted for Trump.

I think he’s got Brexit and Trump a bit confused there.

There were a lot of hits played – Messages, Locomotion, Souvenir, Tesla Girls, Joan Of Arc, Maid Of Orleans, So In Love, Forever Live And Die, Enola Gay and Sailing On The Seven Seas.

Not bad.

We also got to hear new song The Punishment Of Luxury, the excellent title track to their new album.

I would have loved it if they played If You Leave, If You Want It or Dreaming, but that is being greedy.

During the encore, they played the song that started it all for me, Walking On The Milky Way, with a slight change in arrangement.

They could just about fit four people on stage, they were hardly going to fit an orchestra as well.

As they left the stage, they said they won’t leave it so long before returning to Belfast. If they don’t return before 2043, we’ll be demanding answers.

In 2043, Andy McCluskey will be 84 years old. He’ll probably still be energetically dancing around on stage.

In the words of If You Leave, promise me, just one more night.

Photo Album