HIT THE NORTH MOP UP

You may remember a few weeks ago, a post showcasing some of the artwork painted as part of the Hit The North Festival.

When I went out to photograph the aftermath, I didn’t get all the photographs I wanted, as the pieces on Exchange Way were not finished, and there was a cherry picker still parked outside The Dirty Onion blocking any chance of a decent photo.

With the nights getting darker, I would have to wait until the following Sunday to get out and get some photos of the pieces I missed in my original post.

I started by getting some photos that I missed, a piece across the road from Malmaison on Victoria Street, a Kev Largey piece in Commercial Court, and an image of a mermaid and a diver on Dunbar Street.

I then headed over to Exchange Way to get pictures of the finished pieces in the EA car park, which was still being worked on when I visited the previous Sunday.

In the week inbetween, pictures emerged on Social Media of one of the finished pieces, a mural of Tyrion Lannister. That means nothing to me but apparantly it’s something if you’re into Game Of Thrones.

However, when I arrived, it was being painted over, with a mural of Harley Quinn in progress.

That meant I would have to come back the following week to get photos of the finished piece, which I did the following Saturday morning.

Some of the photos at Exchange Way aren’t the best due to it being a locked car park and having to improvise with angles. Enjoy.

Photo Album

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HIT THE NORTH (AKA, NORTH STREET ART SEPTEMBER 2017)

An event so good it has spawned it’s own imitator in it’s own city returned, as Hit The North returned to add a bit of colour to Belfast’s walls.

If you don’t know what Hit The North is, it’s a Street Art event. It depends on which way you take the name. It takes place in Northern Ireland, in North Street, where Belfast City Centre meets North Belfast.

The “imitator” I speak of (Well, it’s more influenced by) was Hit The East, last month as part of Eastside Arts Festival in East Belfast.

Come on Southies and Westies, time to join the party.

It is an event which usually runs alongside Belfast Culture Night. There was a change this year, with it taking place on a Thursday and a Friday instead of a Friday and Saturday. I presume, so that the finished pieces can be done on Culture Night.

However, I was tipped off that some artists would be starting on the Wednesday, so naturally, I went out to investigate.

I saw a cherry picker outside Aether and Echo and got some photos. The artist doing this was called Irony. I had a look at his Twitter and noticed a familiar image on his pinned tweet showcasing his work.

It was of a woman with rainbow coloured hair, a mural I found by accident as I was in Liverpool and had some time to kill (evening flight) and was looking for a mural of Dixie Dean near Goodison Park and found that one by mistake.

I still haven’t found out if that mural I was looking for still exists or if it has been painted over.

Talking of Dixie Dean, he’s one of many figures being suggested for a new mural in Toxteth. I’ll keep an eye out if i’m in Liverpool any time soon.

I also noticed that the Pure Here mural outside The Dirty Onion was being painted over and a new work was beginning, as well as something occurring at the old Belfast Telegraph offices.

On Thursday lunchtime, I went and explored some more, getting updates on those pieces as well as finding pieces on Church Street and spotting Glen Molloy hard at work at the old Belfast Telegraph offices, before getting later updates on these pieces on Thursday evening after work.

There were some areas that were previously used that were out of bounds such as the area between Kent Street and North Street, due to building work, while The Garfield Bar was out of use due to facilities being put up for Culture Night.

On the Friday, I had a half day booked for Culture Night, but as I was already in the City Centre, I thought i’d pop round and have a look at how the pieces were progressing, while continuously checking Social Media for spottings of pieces I hadn’t seen.

As well as doing a piece on Donegall Street, Glen Molloy also touched up his Wall Of Fame on Hill Street, putting labels on the portraits just in case you didn’t know who they were.

Talking of Molloy, during this week, he got a visit from one of the Three Jimmys that he painted recently, Jimmy Nesbitt.

You may have heard the phrase “Raining cats and dogs”, which sums up the weather in Belfast, but this event had “Painting cats and dogs” (Well, it should actually be singular) with a mural of a cat in Donegall Street and a mural of a dog in the alleyway leading up to Hill Street.

I also spotted pieces in the area around the Sunflower Bar (Library Street, Donegall Street), which is generally done at his event, while the entrance to Bullitt also got the Street Art treatment.

One of those in that area got the seal of approval from one of it’s subjects, Rupaul, on Twitter.

I made the most of a football free Saturday by heading out on my bike to get images of the pieces that were getting finished off.

I had difficulties getting photos of the Friz piece at the entrance to the alleyway leading up to Hill Street due to a lack of natural light, and I struggled shooting Bullitt (no pun intended) for the same reason.

On the Sunday morning, I headed out to get the final photos. It was easier on the Sunday with less cars and people about, but it wasn’t perfect, with parked cars on Donegall Street meaning I had to improvise with camera angles getting shots of pieces there.

The pieces on Exchange Street were still being finished, and there was a cherry picker blocking any chance of a decent photo of The Dirty Onion, meaning i’ll have to go back next week to get photos of them, so you’ll have that to look forward to.

Until then, enjoy the new pieces of work which have popped up in Belfast, but maybe not get too attached incase they are replaced at Hit The North 2018.

Photo Album

North Street Art 2016

North Street Art 2015

North Street Art 2014

North Street Art 2013

North Street Art 2012

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2017

Winter is coming.

I know you’re going to expect this post to go in a Game Of Thrones direction but i’m going to disappoint you. I know this is a Game Of Thrones quote, but I don’t know any more than that. No, this is a statement of fact. Winter, is coming.

How do I know that? The appearance of Belfast Culture Night on the calendar, the last event of the summer, one last chance to enjoy oursleves, and Belfast got to work to ensure they did just that.

As it tradition, more a happy accident but we’ll take it, the weather behaved itself and gave us dry skies. Off to a good start.

Culture Night is one of the highlights of the year but it wasn’t in my schedule in 2016 as I missed it due to being in England that weekend.

Ironically, this year’s event was held a week later than in 2016. If they’d held it on this weekend in 2016, I would have been able to make it.

As it turned out, I was hoping it was held in the same weekend as last year due to Linfield’s match being moved forward to the Friday.

I didn’t want to miss Culture Night two years in a row and Linfield go to Warrenpoint again in January, so I thought to myself that I could give this one a miss. My lucky scarf was in my right hand coat pocket as is now superstition. If I can’t bring them good luck in person, I may as well do it in spirit.

In the first years I started going to this, I arrived in Belfast City Centre just after 7pm. As each year passed, it became clear that I was already missing out on a lot by doing this, so I booked a half day, just as a did in 2015, arriving in the City Centre just after 5pm. However, the earlier arrival does make me lose track of time, wondering why it’s still daylight so late in September, not realising what time it really is.

My first port of call was the Cathedral Quarter, to take in the atmosphere, and to check out some of the Street Art photos I was monitoring over the previous days.

I headed to City Quays which was hosted events but there was nothing which interested me, so it was back to the City Centre and Cathedral Quarter.

I stopped off to St Anne’s Square to take in a wrestling match, there were matches all night. The match I saw (I didn’t picked up what their names were) the guy in the orange leotard beat the guy in the black trunks via a submission despite the guy in the black trunks giving him a hiding throughout.

There was more walking, venturing to University Of Ulster and Buoys Park, and then to the Gay Village in Donegall Street which was hosting live cabaret.

Inbetween that, I managed to check out some fencing and fire displays.

It was then back to Buoys Park to take in some Street Countdown, and that was me or the night, I was knackered and my feet were sore.

I’d like to think I will have recovered by the time Culture Night 2018 comes around

Photo Album

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

RYAN ADAMS – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 8.9.2017

Load of rubbish. He was on stage for two hours and didn’t play Summer Of 69.

Might as well get that out of the way first. It was Ryan, not Bryan Adams. Curiously, they share the same birthday, fifteen years apart.

Bit of a late one this, only getting a ticket three days before the concert, with tickets being sold out on the first day of sale. Curiously, for an event listed as “Sold out”, there was a lot of space in the venue.

This was supposed to be his first Belfast concert since 2012, except that it was his first Belfast concert since the previous night.

He was bored on Thursday night and was looking for something to do, so via the power of Social Media, he did a quickly arranged gig in McHugh’s, with profits going to Assisi.

If you want, you can view clips from the McHugh’s gig here.

It was 2001 that I first got into Ryan Adams with his album Gold, and singles such as New York New York and Answering Bell.

It was 14 years later and 12 years earlier came the album that turned him into a Panto Villain in the eyes of the internet, which is literally the worst thing you can be due to him causing anger for “Mansplaining” (Not a real word. Anyone who uses it should not be taken seriously) 1989 by Taylor Swift.

There were no Taylor Swift covers, but we were treated to a two hour trip through his back catalogue, and a lot of guitar solos, and then some harmonica solos.

The highlight of which was New York New York.

I would have love to have heard Answering Bell and So Alive, it didn’t matter, Ulster Hall was very much alive.

Photo Album

THE THREE JIMMYS AND CARL COX

Some more artwork from Glen Molloy which recently appeared in Belfast to bring you.

The first is from an alleyway along the side of Duke Of York, just at the corner before you turn left to go to Premier Inn, walking from Hill Street, where you can see his recent Hill Street Wall Of Fame mural.

It is of Jimmy Cricket. Wait, there’s more (Sorry. Not sorry). There are murals of Jimmy Nesbitt (who had a couple of repaints) and Jimmy Young beside it, complimented with an image of a flower beside it.

If it is a theme of famous Jimmys, Jimmy Callacher is an obvious omission.

There was a delay in getting the piece finished as Molloy was busy working on other projects in Dublin and Magherafelt while working on this as well.

Meanwhile, beside Thompson’s, Molloy has replaced his own mural of Ice Cube with one of Carl Cox.

The delay in getting the pictures of The Three Jimmys meant this blog would be posted after Carl Cox did a gig at Custom House Square, allowing me to get my hopes up that the man himself would post a picture on his social media feed of him at the mural.

Sadly, I was to be disappointed in that regard.

Carl Cox Mural Photo Album

The Three Jimmys Mural Photo Album

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 25.8.2017 (CHSQ)

Bit of a late purchase this, as I waited until Linfield definitely weren’t playing on the Friday night of the Bank Holiday Weekend before purchasing my ticket, as Ocean Colour Scene rolled into Belfast to perform as part of CHSQ.

Custom House Square isn’t a new venue for Ocean Colour Scene, having performed a free concert there in 2007 (and a few minutes in 2008) as part of Belfast City Council’s celebrations when 2007 turned into 2008.

For me, it was my forth OCS gig, with Mandela Hall in 2010 and The Limelight in 2016 being added to that Custom House Square concert.

There was confusion as to when the band were due to appear, with the organisers saying 9pm, but the band’s Facebook site saying 9.15pm.

Considering that those who were waiting for the band were drenched due to the inclement weather, it would have been nice if they came on at 9pm.

The band are still touring the 20th anniversary of Moseley Shoals, released in 1996.

I’m not a fan of anniversary tours. Just play the hits for crying out loud.

Anyway, this year is the 20th anniversary of the far superior Marchin Already.

Support came from Carl Barat and The Jackals, a side project of Carl Barat from The Libertines. Apart from two songs (Don’t Look Back Into The Sun, Gunja Din), i’m not that arsed about The Libertines, so wasn’t grieving the fact I missed him.

The main support came from The Coral, back after a haitus, best remembered for mid 00s such as Pass It On, In The Morning and Thinking Of You, all well received by the crowd who danced along with complete disregard for how wet they were.

As well as having to wear my coat hood over for most of the gig due to the rain, I also spent most of the gig having to cover my nose due to the sheer number of smelly tramps in attendance.

I go forwards, I go backwards, I go left, I go right. No matter where I went, I was getting cigarette and vape smoke blown in my face. It was a plague. A fucking plague of smelly tramps. That is the only word to describe it.

Seriously Belfast, sort this fucking shit out. It’s not cool.

Having missed their gig at The Limelight last December due to a back injury, Oscar Harrison was back on drums.

That gig in December 2016 wasn’t the first time he had missed an OCS engagement in Belfast.

In October 2001, I met Steve and Damon when they went to the bar I worked in after appearing on The John Daly Show. Alan White from Oasis was filling in on drums and I met him too.

I just thought i’d drop that story in about the time I met half of Ocean Colour Scene and a member of Oasis.

One advantage, or disadvantage, or a band playing an album in full is that you know the order of the setlist when you arrive.

Track 1, The Riverboat Song, with it’s distinctive guitar riff kicked off the show. In a normal show, it would have been saved for the encore.

During the early stages of the show, Simon seemed to be channeling Freddie Mercury, trying to be a showman, even engaging in dad dancing, quite appropriate for the singer of a band derided as “Dad Rock” by their haters.

I’m as shocked as you that there are people who hate Ocean Colour Scene.

He even forgot the words a few times but nobody minded. He was even laughing about it with the crowd.

Even though it was just under nine months since their last visit to Belfast, Simon Fowler told the crowd the band were “Too long away from Belfast”, referring to a near seven year gap between Belfast gigs before that.

After all the songs from Moseley Shoals were completed, we were then treated to non Moseley Shoals hits such as Better Day, Traveller’s Tune, Hundred Mile high City and Profit In Peace.

For the encore, Simon appeared on his own with an acoustic guitar before telling the crowd to “Welcome Carl to the stage”.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, it wasn’t Carl Frampton.

It was Carl Barat, who walked on to stage and flicked a lit cigarette in the direction of the crowd, narrowly missing a Security Guard who was stood with his back to the stage and unaware to move for his own safety. What a dick.

Imagine being in a band with a Professional Junkie who thinks he’s a poet and still being the biggest dick in the band.

They performed a duet of Robin Hood, which then morphed into a cover of Live Forever by Oasis, with Simon declaring “I loved Oasis” before the band finished with a cover of Daytriper by The Beatles, and The Day We Caught The Train.

Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight December 2016

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square Photo Album

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2017 (AND KASABIAN, NOT LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2017)

“We’ll be back soon” said Blossoms singer Tom Ogden at the end of their concert at The Limelight in March. He was true to his word, with the band returning five and a half months later to support Kasabian at Custom House Square.

It was a nice treat, to have two bands on the bill I want to see, rather than viewing the support act as a way of filling time before the headliner.

Kasabian are one of many high profile acts who have had Blossoms supporting them in recent years – Paul Weller, The Courteeners, The Charlatans and The Kooks have all had them as support. I saw them support Paul Weller at Waterfront Hall in 2015.

Next month, will be their biggest support slot to date, when they support Noel Gallagher at his concert to reopen Manchester Arena.

To dismiss them as a support act is harsh. These boys have tunes.

Restricted to a 45 minute set, they had to play the hits. Considering they’ve only released one album, they’ve already had quite a few hits, such as Blown Rose, Getaway, At Most A Kiss and Honey Sweet, all getting the approval of a crowd who were getting drenched while the set was ongoing. We even got an instrumental version of Gimme Gimme Gimme, just like at The Limelight in March.

Just like at The Limelight in March, the band asked for a member of the audience who had been just dumped to dedicate My Favourite Room to.

At The Limelight, it was Orla (apologies if that’s not the spelling she uses) who had been dumped by Ryan. I don’t know if she was there on Tuesday.

The lucky winner, if you will, was Emma, who had just been dumped by Jack. Jack was booed by the crowd. If you’re reading this Jack, you’re a bastard.

My Favourite Room also included singalongs of Half The World Away By Oasis and Last Christmas by Wham!

I say singalongs, it was Tom singing the first line of a verse, and the crowd doing the rest.

If drunks can sing Fairytale Of New York on St Patrick’s Day, then it’s more than acceptable for people to sing Last Christmas in August.

As the band neared the end of their set, finishing on Charlemagne (voted the best song of 2015 by this blog), Tom Ogden asked the crowd if they were excited for Kasabian, before giving a shout out to Touts.

Touts were the band who were on before Blossoms, and supported them at The Limelight in March and at Castlefield Bowl in July. They’ll be supporting Paul Weller at Ulster Hall early next year.

If you saw them, you probably thought they were called Tights, due to their Peeeyuuurrrre Deee-errry (Or Peeeyyyurrree Leeonndonddeee-errrrry, if you prefer) accents.

I didn’t catch any of their performance and wasn’t really fussed about that, to be honest.

It can’t be unsaid about the sheer number of smelly tramps at this gig. Seriously, it was embarrassing, trying to find somewhere without having cigarette or vape smoke being blown into my face.

We are the majority, yet our nights out are dictated by smelly tramps who haven’t even the basic decency to consider those around them and go a few hours without.

I’m fed up about outdoor events being ruined by these tramps, having to walk through the City Centre holding my nose on my lunchbreak, and don’t even start me on how useless Eventsec are at stopping this at international football matches.

It might seem drastic, but surely it’s worth putting anti-smoking clauses into the granting of licences.

Some smelly tramps might get their feelings hurt by this, Fuck em. It’s not my problem, and my enjoyment of events shouldn’t be dictated by them. I give more of a fuck about my lungs than I do about their feelings.

If there must be a compromise, built a hut for them and let them do their trampy wee habit away from everybody else.

I know I write about this a lot, but I will continue to do so until either authorities tackle it or there are societal changes in Belfast.

No amount of glossy Game Of Thrones themed advertising can disguise the fact that Belfast is a smelly smoke riddled shithole. It doesn’t have to be.

At about 8.45pm, I had managed to get a decent view, the rain had stopped, and I was in an area which had the least amount of smelly tramps surrounding me. I was all set for Kasabian.

Kasabian are no strangers to Belfast in August, with this gig falling on the tenth anniversary of them supporting The Killers at Tennent’s Vital, and just over seven years (by five days) since they headlined Belsonic at the same venue.

However, 2017 would not be joining 2007 and 2010 as Kasabian visits to Belfast.

An announcement came over the speaker “THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT …”

Nobody really paid attention. They just thought it was an automated health and safety announcment.

I have been to several Belsonic concerts in the past and never heard a health and safety announcment. It immediately struck me as odd, but nothing to get worried about.,

The announcement continued “….. DUE TO A LAST MINUTE …..”

I immediately thought to myself “Oh fuck”, I knew what was coming.

It continued “… ILLNESS, TONIGHT’S SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED. THERE WILL BE NO PERFORMANCE”.

The venue went silent and everyone was in disbelief. The announcement was repeated, and people began to take in what was being said.

The title of their current album For Crying Out Loud was quite apt.

The second time was met with boos, and booze, as some people chucked beer at the stage in disgust.

It clearly was a late announcement with Blossoms being unaware when their singer was under the impression Kasabian were performing as they were on stage.

Last year, The Kooks cancelled their gig at Feile on the day, so the organisers bumped The Coronas (who were supporting) into a headline slot and offered anyone who wanted to see The Kooks a refund.

Clearly, the cancellation was too late for a similar arrangement to take place here.

It was stated that a new dated would be announced. There’s not much room for maneuver from band and promoters or a Custom House Square gig in the immediate future.

It was expected that they would go on a Winter tour, the announcement will have been embargoed until their summer festival appearances had been completed.

That turned out to be the case.

There’s no Belfast gig. There was never going to be a Belfast gig on that tour, as we would have already had one this year.

There is a Dublin gig, and free days either side of it. Block out your diary for an Odyssey gig would be my hunch.

Anyone who had a ticket for Custom House Square will be compensated with admission to The Odyssey.

That’s just a hunch, I have no inside information.

That’s the second concert in a few days i’ve left early. One because I only wanted to see the support act, and the other because the headliners cancelled. It’s not a habit I want to get into.

You have to be philosophical, i’ll either get my money back or i’ll get to see Kasabian at a later date.

Let’s be honest, Kasabian will be playing a gig in Belfast in 2037 to promote Greatest Hits III, it’s not like they’ll never come to Belfast again.

As it turned out, there was a tunderstorm during when the band would have been performing their encore. That would have been, um, fun.

If you do want to read a Kasabian review, here’s their 2014 Odyssey concert.

Blossoms Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

AMY MacDONALD – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 19.8.2017 (CHSQ)

It had been a while since Amy MacDonald’s last concert in Belfast, nine years ago in 2008, something she addressed to the crowd, apologising for taking so long for coming back, which she said was “Too long” a gap.

She had announced a tour this year, there was hope of a Belfast gig, but it was not to be. There was a Dublin gig, but no Belfast gig. We do get annoyed when people play Dublin but not Belfast. There was hope, that she was being lined-up for a festival instead.

That proved to be the case, when she was announced to be supporting Foy Vance at Custom House Square in August.

August gave us hope that we would get to see Amy in the sunshine. We didn’t quite get sunshine, but we did get daylight and a dry sky. The weather was the first thing she commented on, saying it was great to see a blue sky, and a dramatic improvement on the weather she was soundchecking in.

I’ve been a long time fan of Amy, going back to her debut album in 2007. I remember a friend of mine didn’t like her. No reason given, just simply “I don’t like her”.

Ten years on, she considers herself a veteran at the age of 29. She won’t be 29 for much longer, she turns 30 next Friday, which she acknowledged during the show, stating that things have change since she first started gigging in 2005, that she now considers a cup of tea between songs as her version of rock n roll excess.

She stated that this was the most polite crowd she had played to, having believed that Belfast and her hometown of Glasgow to be very similar, but that if this gig was in Glasgow, there would be police horses and riots everywhere. A small section of the crowd booed at the suggestion.

Most of us were just toetapping and singing along.

When you tour so much, it is easy to forget where you are, with Amy commented that she almost replied “Danke schon” after getting applause from the crowd, having spent so much time in Germany this summer. She is so famous in Germany, that Joachim Low is a fan.

The set, around 45 minutes, was mostly stripped back, and featured hits such as Dream On, This Is The Life and Mr Rock N Roll.

I would have loved to have seen her perform Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over.

As mentioned earlier, she was supporting Foy Vance. Anywhere else, she would have been the headliner, but it was a “Home” gig for Vance, so she had to make do with second billing.

I’m not that really into Foy Vance, so I left after her set, I was only there for Amy and had a decent time of dry weather and a bit of toetapping. I even enjoyed the novelty of finding a smoke free area in the venue (just by sheer chance of being stood beside people who aren’t smelly tramps, rather than a designated area). An exception rather than the norm for outdoor concerts in Belfast sadly.

This concert was part of a new festival called CHSQ, which as abbreviation enthusiasts will tell you, means Switzerland Squared. What an odd name for a festival.

Although, I think it’s just trendy text speak for Custom House Square.

Having enjoyed a bit of late summer singing along and toetapping, it would be nice if we could do it again in Winter. She’s got an acoustic tour scheduled for November, so hopefully, she’ll be able to fit in a quick return to Belfast with her own headlining show.

Fingers crossed.

Photo Album

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