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

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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

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 7.4.2017

1. The Charlatans – Plastic Machinery
2. Kasabian – You’re In Love With A Psycho
3. James – Sit Down (Game Of Thrones 2017 version)
4. Shed Zeppelin – Good Times, Bad Times, Disco Down
5. The Sundowners – Great Beauty

So, concert news this week. Kasabian, supported by Blossoms playing CHSQ in August. Yes please!!!! Already happy with Kasabian, but Blossoms as support is the icing on the cake. I predicted that Blossoms would be coming back for a festival appearance this summer when I reviewed their recent Limelight gig. I wonder will Orla who got dumped be there. It was a you had to be there moment.

Also, George Ezra will playing The Limelight at the end of next month, previewing songs from his second album. Hopefully, as good as his last Belfast gig. Already got my ticket in the presale. You can read about his last visit here.

Meanwhile, Pet Shop Boys have announced a second Dublin gig in September due to demand. How about a Belfast gig due to demand? I bet they do one on the night Northern Ireland play Czech Republic so I can’t go. What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

Meanwhile, Bangor Court House might be turned into a concert venue. Interesting, very interesting.

Ryan Adams update. Still looking for a ticket for Ulster Hall in September. Standing, Face Value. Ta very much.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 31.3.2017

1. The Kooks – Be Who You Are
2. Paul Weller – Long Long Road
3. Brian Pern – Poundland Polly
4. The Foundations – Baby Now That I Found You
5. Gorillaz – We Got The Power

Apologies for forgetting last week, but Reginald Dwight turned 70 last week. You probably know him better by his alter ego Elton Hercules John.

So, to belatedly celebrate, here’s five Elton John songs for you

FIVE SONGS BY ELTON JOHN

1. I’m Still Standing
2. Made In England
3. Passengers
4. Can You Fee The Love Tonight?
5. I Want Love

Switzerland Squared has announced a new headliner, Walking On Cars. They’re ok. If you love The Coronas or Kodaline, this will be your thing. I hoped to see them when they supported Ellie Goulding at Belsonic last year but they were on too early. Hopefully, there’ll be more CHSQ headliners announced.

The latest in acts I like announcing tours but not doing Belfast – Pet Shop Boys and Paul Weller.

The timetable of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival was launched yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to properly look through the programme yet. You can do so here.

I’m already going to The Divine Comedy and Rich Hall.

Staying with the Cathedral Quarter, it’s under threat. You can read more about it here or like the Facebook page here.

Ryan Adams update. Still looking for a ticket for Ulster Hall in September. Standing, Fave Value. Ta very much.

And finally, RIP Brian Pern. Singer. Actor. Entertainer. Father. Husband. Snail Welfare Campaigner.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 24.3.2017

1. Kasabian – You’re In Love With A Psycho
2. Blondie – Long Time
3. The Music Gang – How Can I Compete?
4. Chuck Berry- Johnny B Goode
5. Saint Etienne – Heather

So, some gig news. Got myself a ticket to see Amy MacDonald at Custom House Square in August. Her last Belfast gig was so long ago (feel free to correct me if i’m wrong) that it was in Auntie Annie’s. She’s actually supporting Foy Vance. I’m not that fussed on Foy Vance, so i’ll be going to see her instead.

It won’t be the first time i’ve went to a concert just for the support band, having seen The Charlatans at Falls Park in 2013 while not being fussed about Happy Mondays. Also, in 2011, I left an outdoor Laura Marling concert early because it was a monsoon. I had a free ticket so it was no loss to me. Worst thing was, the next evening was beautiful sunshine.

That concert seems to be part of a series of concerts known as CHSQ, which as any abbreviations expert will tell you stands for Switzerland Squared.

I hope Switzerland Squared becomes my favourite music festival in Belfast.

Talking of festivals in Belfast, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is due to publish it’s programme soon. I had a dream Birdy was doing a concert there. I don’t think that has any merit or value, but I just thought i’d share it.

Shed Seven (with support from Cast) announced some extra tour dates. No Belfast date. Fuck sake.

Martin Garrix announced as the last Belsonic headline. At least they had the decency to tease that it would be an EDM (that’s Electronic Dance Music for all you old farts out there) “superstar” on social media, so I knew it was going to be shite.

Kasabian announced some gigs for (relatively) smaller venues in April. They did the same in 2014, so hopes up for an Odyseey gig later in the year.

Anyone fancy taking me to Electric Picnic to see Duran Duran and Madness?

Would love to see Duran Duran. The closest i’ve got was John Taylor doing a Q and A with fans at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013.

Also, i’m still looking for a Ryan Adams ticket for September.