HIT THE EAST (AKA … EAST BELFAST STREET ART AUGUST 2017)

You may have seen Hit The North be covered on this blog, taking place on the same weekend as Belfast Culture Night and brightening up North Street and surrounding areas.

Well, East Belfast decided it wanted in on the act, with an event titled Hit The East taking place on Saturday 5th August as part of Eastside Arts Festival.

There were murals painted opposite Holywood Arches Library, and at an alleyway on Bloomnfield Road, across the road from the entrances to Connswater.

I was away that weekend, but headed out to get some photos as soon as I returned. Enjoy.

Now, when are Hit The South and Hit The West going to start?

Photo Album

BELFAST PEACE WALL ART – JULY 2017

Headed over to the Peace Wall at Lanark Way this morning to get some photos.

It’s not my favourite exhibition of Street Art in Belfast, but I usually go every six months to document it.

I was last there in early February. I know what you’re thinking, i’ve headed over a month early.

Well, you’d be correct, but I had a good reason for visiting the site prematurely.

I had planned to visit in early/mid August, but I spotted a photo on Social Media of a mural of Captain America getting a punishment shooting, and I couldn’t afford to risk waiting three to four weeks to photograph it in case it got painted over.

So here, a month early, is a collection of images from the Peace Wall in Belfast. I’ll be back again in January 2018, unless there is something spectacular between now and then that I just have to go and photograph.

Photo Album

Belfast Peace Wall Art February 2017

Belfast Peace Wall Art August 2016

Belfast Peace Wall Art 2015

ROSEMARY STREET ART – JULY 2017

You may have seen these pictures already doing the rounds on Social Media, but there is more Street Art in Belfast to report, along the exterior of Red Barn Gallery in Rosemary Street.

I spotted photos on Social Media, so I decided to head out and investigate, and got some photos of what was there, my favourite of which is the image of the Eiffel Tower.

If the location sounds familiar, that’s because it was covered on this blog in April 2015, when it had images of Bruce Lee, Charlie Chaplin and Darth Vader.

The image of Bruce Lee is still there, but it now has a green background rather than a red one.

Photo Album

THE 1975 – LIVE AT ORMEAU PARK 16.6.2017 (BELSONIC)

The last time The 1975 played in Belfast, singer Matt Healy declared that they were getting so big they were running out of venues to play in Belfast. So it appears the solution was to give them a park.

Ormeau Park is the new venue for Belsonic, hosting it’s second gig of this year’s event, with Arcade Fire playing on the Tuesday before.

I’m not really that into Arcade Fire but I did consider going, but mainly for The Kooks, who were supporting. However, a cost of £45 a ticket just to see the support band was a bit offputting.

The Kooks announced a Dublin gig for January 2018 on Monday. I suspect it was embargoed as Belsonic were hoping Republic of Ireland based Kooks fans would travel to this, under the impression they wouldn’t be coming to Dublin.

It’s not uncommon for bands to announce Belfast gigs soon after playing Belsonic (KT Tunstall did last year), so i’m crossing my fingers for a Kooks headline gig in Belfast in early 2018.

Anyway, back to The 1975. The band were regular visitors to Northern Ireland during the period of their self-titled first album.

However, Northern Ireland had been a noticable absence from their touring to promote their not in any way creepily titled second album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unware Of It, so this gig was to be welcomed by their Northern Ireland fans.

Matt Healy welcomed this support, speaking about how so many people from “To be fair, such a small place” had come out to see the band.

As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the band to perform, there was added pressure in the fact that I was missing out on Paramore at Waterfront Hall to see this, that gig being announced for the same night, and I already had my ticket for this.

This was my first Belsonic at Ormeau Park, the only entrance being closer to the Ravenhill Road, which felt like a never ending walk on a warm evening, a rare occasion when the weather in Belfast behaved itself.

The band came on an burst into Love Me, the lead single from ILIWYS,FYASBYSUOI. Already a dancey song you can boogie to, partly due to it’s close resemblance to Fame by David Bowie, the thumping bass when played live made it sound so much better and dancier.

Unfortunately, as with any outdoor event in Belfast, Ormeau Park was riddled with smelly tramps, puffing and vaping away with no consideration for others.

They’ll probably gurn about their human rights being breached (ignoring my human right of some clean air when out enjoying myself), but seriously, just dig a fucking hole at the back and stick them in there and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves in peace.

As a city we need to have a serious conversation about this. It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to hold your nose and cover your mouth when walking in the City Centre and when at outdoor concerts.

I am absolutely no civic pride in Belfast. It’s a smelly shithole. No amount of Game Of Thrones related advertising can change that.

Although, one highlight was seeing a fat millbeg drop her feg, bend down to pick it up and then fall over. Not going to lie, it put a massive smile on my face.

As well as fagbreaths, crowd members were treated to a recent phenomenon of backpacks at concerts. Seriously, why the fuck do you need to bring a backpack to a one day concert?

There appears to be a correlation that the vast majority of fuckwits who aimlessly walk about from side to side (literally, every concert) appear to be wearing backpacks.

Hopefully, Belsonic will start banning people wearing backpacks like other events, or at least ask them to use their brains and make them put them down by their side.

I know these rules have been brought in as part of the fight against international terrorism, but stopping fuckwits banging into people is a happy spin-off

After a dancey start, the concert then had a few iffy moments, most notably an avant garde instrumental solo. The 1975 do music to dance to, people want to dance. Do the maths.

If I wanted to watch four men arse about on keyboards, I would have went to see Kraftwerk at the Waterfront Hall a few weeks ago.

Eventually, we got back on track, but then took a detour as Matt Healy started to talk about politics. I didn’t actually hear what he said, as a man behind me shouted “Oh for fuck sake, stop talking about about politics”

A very sound observation.

The main complaint was that there were too many slow songs. People wanted to dance, and made the most of it when the opportunity came.

Healy then introduced Chocolate, describing it as “self explanatory”.

In a weird way, I was tempted to eat a bar of chocolate I had in my coat pocket in a way of life imitating music, like that time I listened to Rotterdam by The Beautiful South on my ipod whenever I was in Rotterdam.

Before finishing their set, Healy spoke about their first gig in Belfast, in front of 25 people at The Oh Yeah Centre.

When he reminisced about it at their last Belfast gig, Ulster Hall in 2014, he said there were 15 people in attendance.

It’s like Oasis at The Limelight, the crowd gets bigger each year.

The next time The 1975 play in Belfast, he’ll be reminiscing about the time they played in front of 35 people at The Oh Yeah Centre.

Photo Album

The 1975 Live At Ulster Hall February 2014

HILL STREET WALL OF FAME

If you’ve been in the Cathedral Quarter over the past month, chances are you’ve seen Glen Molloy hard at work on a new mural beside The Harp Bar, covering building work taking place at what is/was (sorry for not being up to date with Civil Service locations) NIEA offices in Hill Street.

It began for me with a social media post that there was a new mural of David Holmes in Hill Street. So, armed with my camera, I went to investigate.

I was busy doing other stuff and actually forgot to check out the main thing I was in Belfast City Centre for.

So, I came back later, saw a mural of David Holmes, and other works which were works in progress. Naturally, I got snapping.

There was a clear theme of music legends developing, so I went back every lunchtime and evening to snap the work that was in progress.

There was a brief stop in the work here as Glen Molloy was working elsewhere on a mural at Filthy McNasty. You can see a write-up of that here

Gradually, the wall was getting filled. Frustratingly, I missed photographing a key day in the painting of Van Morrison and Bap Kennedy due to biblical rain.

It wan’t the first mural of Morrison to appear in Belfast. There was one near the away entrance to The Oval in 2007, but that soon disappeared due to housing being build on that site.

The faces appearing on the mural are : David Holmes, Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Una Healy, Van Morrison, Bap Kennedy, Brian Kennedy, Fatboy Slim.

Photo Album

EMIC MURAL – LOWER ORMEAU ROAD

A new mural in Belfast that I came across by chance. I was cycling into the City Centre to get some photos of another mural, and as I headed down Lower Ormeau Road, happened to spot a work in progress in Farnham Street, along the side of The Rose and Crown pub.

Over the coming days, I documented the process and the mural progressed, before photographing the finished piece.

The mural is by an artist called Emic, who has done a lot of work in Belfast City Centre, most recently, this Dancer one.

Photo Album

FILTHY McMURAL

Glen Molloy has been a busy boy recently. As well as doing a mural on Hill Street (You’ll be seeing a blog about that soon), he has been spending some time on Dublin Road recently, doing a mural beside Filthy McNasty’s.

The theme is Northern Ireland Legends, and this mural features Carl Frampton, Liam Neeson, Neil Hannon and Ricky Warwick.

I happened to spot this when it was a work in progress, so I continued to snap it while it was being created, right up until the finished piece.

It’s sponsored by a drinks company. I’m not going to post their name because i’m still mad at them for organising a private concert by The 1975 in 2014 (or was it The 2014 in 1975? I’m not sure) and they didn’t fix it for me to win a ticket.

They did keep updates on their Twitter feed via a photo and a video.

Photo Album

GEORGE EZRA – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 26.5.2017

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I was at The Limelight on Friday night to see George Ezra in concert. The thing is, it’s supposed to be a secret.

Billed as the Top Secret Tour, it was anything but. Announced at a few weeks notice, taking in Northern Ireland (there was a gig in Derry the following night. Ezra had previously been to Derry in 2014 as part of Other Voices Festival), Republic of Ireland (gigs in Dublin and Limerick followed his brief stay in Northern Ireland), before moving on to Wales and then South-West England.

To use a football analogy, these were the music equivalent of pre-season friendlies, as Ezra aims to fine-tune himself and get match fitness (or should that not be gig fitness?) ahead of a busy summer of festivals.

However, a gig at The Limelight is in no way comparable to a kickabout against Dunmurry Rec. A Limelight crowd demands to be entertained.

Ezra is no stranger to The Limelight, having played there in October 2014.

Back then, his debut album Wanted On Voyage was enjoying it’s second week at Number One in the UK Album Chart, having eventually climbed there just over three months after it’s release.

Now, he is at another milestone in his career as he arrived in Belfast, getting ready to release his currently untitled second album, and Belfast was going to get a preview of this new material

Entering the stage at 9.30pm, I was home from his last Belfast gig by that point, he was held up by a band member not being ready, before jumping into Cassy O, one of the singles from Wanted On Voyage.

After that, he played a new song. Unfortunately, I was unable to get titles of the new songs.

Ezra then mentioned about travelling to Barcelona. The crowd cheered because they were anticipating him to play Barcelona. Well, not quite.

His debut album Wanted On Voyage was written while travelling around Europe, inspiring song titles such as Budapest and Barcelona.

This inspired one Internet Prankster to run a story that Ezra was planning to do a whole album about cities beginning with B.

The reason why Ezra was talking about Barcelona, was that he went back there to get inspiration for his second album, and found somewhere to stay using Airbnb, but chose the option of living with someone instead of having a flat to himself.

Eventually, he did play Barcelona.

He announced that this was his first gig in eighteen months, and had spent most of 2016 writing and recording, admitting that 2016 was the first year in his life that he felt scared and anxious by what was going on in the world, and that he felt like he was running away from it all.

Ezra said that the setlist will be a mixture of old and new material. Naturally, all artists have old and new songs. An artist on their second album doesn’t even have a mid point in their career.

One of the highlights of the new songs was one called (Something …..) Happy People. I didn’t get what the first word in the title was. It was nothing like the REM (with Kate Pierson on uncredited vocals) song that the title almost sounds like, but it’s still good.

A lot of the new songs had a Bluesey, Americanised sound, songs you can sing and clap along to, which most of the crowd did, before finishing with Budapest during the encore.

Ezra commented that he had to go to Belfast to get a tan, with this gig coming on the warmest day of the year, before commenting that he will be back soon.

Belfast may not be able to guarantee sunshine for his return, but it looks likely if he does return, it will be in a bigger venue than The Limelight.

Photo Album

George Ezra Live At The Limelight October 2014

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

AND IT’S GOODNIGHT FROM ME ……

…… and it’s hello again from Glen Molloy.

You may remember Glen Molloy featuring prominently on this blog during the Winter months for his work across Belfast, on the Wall Of Fame just off Corporation Street, and portraits of recently deceased celebrities such as Carrie Fisher, George Michael and Prince.

He went quiet for a while, but now he’s back, with a social media post of a new mural he had just completed – a tribute to The Two Ronnies.

It is just their faces. You may recognise that the end of the show’s opening credits had just their faces. You may notice that this mural replicates this by having Ronnie Corbett on the left as you approach it and Ronnie Barker on your right.

The mural is in the car park at Smithfield, opposite North Street, if you want to go and visit.

Curiously, it is not far from the Mace on Royal Avenue, where I found out that Ronnie Barker had died in 2005, as I popped in to get some things and it was the lead story on the top of the hour news on the instore radio station.

As there was another mural above it, the photos aren’t the best, so apologies for that.

While I was checking that out, I walked past the David Bowie mural by Visual Waste that was painted within weeks of his death in January 2016.

Sadly, it’s fallen into a state of disrepair, so it might not be there for much longer.

Hope you enjoy the photos, i’m off to Smithfield Market. I’m hoping to pick up some fork handles.

Photo Album