HIT THE NORTH 2019

Is it September already?

The calendar says May, but the weather feels like mid Winter, so it’s a bit confusing.

There is further confusion by the fact that the Northern part of Belfast City Centre recently getting a makeover with some new Street Art, as part of Hit The North, an event which usually takes place in September, as part of Culture Night, but has been brought forward a few months this year to be part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

No reason was given for the switch, but the event page on Facebook states that it was going to be a smaller event in 2019.

The smaller nature of the event meant that it wouldn’t be taking part in North Street, with Kent Street (Walk towards The Sunflower and you can’t miss it) being the main location for Street Art, although the shutters of Dawson’s in Royal Avenue had a piece drawn on it.

This event was scheduled for Sunday and Monday over the Bank Holiday Weekend, but my past experience of it has seen some artists start a bit earlier to get their work done so I had a week check on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the week before, but there was nothing there, they would all be starting on the Sunday.

I would also be there on the Sunday, but first I would be heading to Bangor on the Sunday morning for Bangor Flea Market, but I would also be sneaking in some Street Art photos while in Bangor.

First up, was a mural by Friz near the marina to promote Snow Patrol’s upcoming concert at Ward Park.

There was also some painted art on abandoned buildings which I snapped. You can see a photo album here.

If you’re interested, the Johnny Rotten mural from last year is still there.

The plan was to go from there into Belfast City Centre in time for the 2pm start, but my route into the city was closed off because of Belfast Marathon, meaning I had to go home instead and walk into the City Centre instead, arriving at around 3.45pm when I would have been there an hour earlier if the roads weren’t closed.

Was I naïve by thinking it would be all over by 2pm? What sort of stupid city is closed at 2pm because of a Marathon?

It’s bad enough having to put up with Runners behaviour on the Lagan Towpath, now they are stopping me from seeing Street Art.

What’s the difference between a Jogger and a Dog? One is a dumb creature that runs about aimlessly without looking where it’s going and doesn’t care if it runs into people. The other is a dog.

When I arrived, I headed straight for Kent Street to observe what was being painted, leaving just before 5pm.

On Monday, I returned to Kent Street to see the finished pieces, although there were still some pieces being worked on.

I got a bit of a surprise as it hadn’t really started when I left on the Sunday, to see a mural of Lyra McKee, though it wasn’t finished as some more was added to the piece after I left.

Of course, being a Bank Holiday, it was pissing down with rain, so I didn’t stay in Belfast City Centre for long.

As well as pieces on Kent Street, there was also the first of what will be a series of utility boxes being painted as part of a project to emulate Dublin Canvas.

Something similar was attempted in Belfast a decade ago, such as this piece in Royal Avenue.

The weather on Tuesday and Wednesday wasn’t great for photos, so I left it, but did stumble upon some of the utility boxes that had been painted.

Helpfully, Seedhead Arts posted a map in the event page for anybody looking to find one of these.

By Thursday, the weather had improved and I was armed with a list of locations of utility boxes, so I went out and got some photos of them as well as the finished pieces on Kent Street.

If you’re interested, locations with painted utility boxes are:

Ann Street
Castle Lane
Church Street
Cornmarket
High Street
North Street
Royal Avenue
Talbot Street

In my recent Echo and the Bunnymen post, I forgot to mention that I was going to see Kieran Hodgson on Tuesday night, and he was very funny.

I had planned to see him in Edinburgh last year but I couldn’t get a ticket, so I was glad he came to Belfast.

That was me for Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival for this year, looking forward to see what it will offer me next year. If Hit The North is on it, i’ll be out and about snapping it.

Sunday 5th May Photo Album

Monday 6th May Photo Album

Hit The North Aftermath Photo Album

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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

EAST BELFAST STREET ART – APRIL 2019

Some new Street Art to report in Belfast, my first such blog this year, having previously reported on Street Art in Manchester and Sheffield.

As the title of this blog suggests, it’s in the East of the city, as you turn left after entering CS Lewis Square and head towards Dee Street.

It is of a bird on one side, and then a colourful piece along the other side, done by Irony, Artista, Friz and KVLR, in association with Eastside Partnership.

You can see a before and after here.

In recent years, the wallspace in East Belfast has been brightened up by Hit The East (unknown if this will take place in 2019) and a mural in Tower Street.

You may remember last May, Wardrobe Jam in East Belfast. It’s unknown if it will be returning, hope so.

There will be Street Art hopefully appearing on here over the next few weeks.

I’m intending to go to an event at the end of April in Island Arts Centre with some live pieces being painted.

Meanwhile, Hit The North 2019 is going to be four months earlier than scheduled, taking place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

I’ll be heading along to that, and then there’ll be a trip to Old Trafford later in May, which will mean a detour to the Northern Quarter.

Photo Album

 

 

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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2018 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR ….)

December began with a top of the table clash on the first day, but not the result I wanted as Linfield lost to Ballymena United.

The following Saturday was a lot better, as Linfield thrashed Crusaders 4-1.

No football the following Saturday, meant a gap in photo adventures, before seeing Ash at The Limelight, followed by Linfield’s match against Glenavon.

Of course, there are still two more football matches for me this month, Linfield’s games against Glentoran (26th) and Cliftonville (29th).

Hope you’ve enjopyed my photographic look back at 2018, here’s to more in 2019.

Already booked for 2019 – Chvrches, Razorlight and a short break in Dublin.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Ash live at The Limelight

Ash live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

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 – 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