2022 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR ….)

December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a tip to Telegraph Building to see Blossoms in concert.

A spell of frost descended on Belfast, but now snow. I was all psyched up for snow photos, for nothing.

There was then a football free weekend for me, with Linfield in Scotland.

The following weekend, I headed to Ulster Hall to see Ash in concert, followed by Linfield’s home match against Dungannon Swifts.

As you will have noticed, there is still a week of the month left.

What I have planned is Bangor v Dunmurry Rec, Glentoran v Linfield, a walk up Cavehill and possibly Lisnabreeny Hill.

Here’s to more phototaking in 2023 and beyond.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building Photo Album

Ash live at Ulster Hall

Ash live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

ASH – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 16.12.2022

30 years? Did Ash get together in school? Well, yes, but I was thinking Primary School or Nursery School. Surely they can’t be that old?

Believe it or not, it has been 30 years since Ash formed, so they headed to Ulster Hall to do a celebratory concert.

Exactly a year to the day since their 25th anniversary concert at The Limelight.

Probably should have paid attention in Maths instead of forming a band.

Well, there is a simple explanation for that.

The concert in December 2021 had been delayed by eighteen months from the Summer of 2020, and was originally to celebrate a quarter of a century since they first released music.

When they have a concert in Belfast in December, it gets informally labelled The Ash Christmas Bash.

This was my fourth such Bash, having attended in 2015, 2018 and 2021, although the 2021 wasn’t originally scheduled for that month, or even that year.

You will have noticed they are triennial, so I wasn’t expecting another one until 2024, but such a milestone deserves a rewriting of the unwritten rule.

One thing that is guaranteed at The Ash Christmas Bash is chaos. If you love chaos, then this is the concert for you.

There was the added bonus with the late announcement that this would be filmed and broadcast live on the BBC website and made available in audio on BBC Sounds.

If you want to, you can watch it here.

As showtime approached, Gemma Bradley appeared on stage with her back to the crowd to do an introductory piece to camera, then we heard The A-Team Theme over the speakers, but not as we know it.

Seemingly, in 1977, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and relocated to Downpatrick.

We were then treated to a cover version of Flash by Queen, except it was “ASH!!!! SAVIOURS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!”

I would genuinely love it if they recorded this version and performed it live.

You could tell it was a big night as Tim turned up in a blazer, although this was dumped a few songs in. Mark’s idea of formal was to wear his favourite Star Wars t-shirt.

We were informed by Tim that Mark was still vowing vengeance on whoever stole his Princess Leia cardboard cutout at a gig at The Limelight many years ago.

As it was a very cold night outside, we were all relying on Ash to warm us up. It certainly was warm and sweaty in the venue.

The setlist began with a few biggies such as Goldfinger, Shining Light and A Life Less Ordinary.

For some reason, when I go to a concert, I like to stand on the left hand side of the floor. No idea why, I just do.

From where I was stood, I could see who was loitering at the side of the stage. I spotted an Undertone.

However, it would be a Snower (perhaps appropriate for this time of year) or a Patroler joining them next on stage, with Nathan Connolly joining the action, just as he did in 2015.

More biggies followed in the shape of Uncle Pat and Oh Yeah before Tim started asking where the Bass Player was.

I had originally thought he had nipped off to the toilet for a minute, but it turned out he has jumped into the crowd. I only knew that the next day because a friend on Instagram was posting selfies with him.

By now, Mark was back on stage. There was now a guest star entering the arena, Santa Claus himself, coming on during Kung Fu, dancing and doing kung fu.

Kung Fu Santa, now that is a film that has to be made.

Not sure what the plot is, but Santa and Kung Fu is a sure fire winner.

Whilst the weather had been cold all week, the weather didn’t deliver any snow, so Ash brought snow to the crowd, a confetti gun firing off white confetti into the crowd. I was covered in it, some of it was falling all over my house when I got home.

The band let us in on a little secret that i’ll share with you – They’re working on new music for release in 2023.

They then played Darkest Hour Of The Night, a recent song but a favourite for me.

That was then followed by Girl From Mars.

It would be a Boy From Stroke City and a Boy From Coleraine who would be entertaining the crowd in one of the more bizarre musical collaborations ever.

Damian O’Neill, the Undertone that I spotted loitering at the side of the stage came on. He’s appeared on stage with them a few times, he should probably ask for full membership.

On guest vocals, James Nesbitt. Yes, that James Nesbitt, taking off his coat to reveal a retro Northern Ireland shirt with “Ash 30” printed on the back.

I did warn you that The Ash Christmas Bash is chaotic.

As the band finished their set, the chaos didn’t end there, with Jump In The Line (AKA, Shake Shake Shake Senora) by Harry Belafonte playing on the speaker, giving Rick the opportunity to escape from behind his drumkit to showcase his dancing skills.

The rest of the band were making their way to the Dressing Room, came back to join him and showcase their dancing skills.

A rather enjoyable 30th anniversary concert.

Might as well mark Friday 20th December 2052 in the diary.

Photo Album

Ash live at The Limelight 2021

Ash live at HMV 2020

Ash live at The Limelight 2018

Ash live at Titanic Slipways 2018

Ash live at The Empire 2015

2022 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began with a trip to Shamrock Park to see Linfield eventually beat Portadown by a score of 3-0.

By this point, I was using up Annual Leave, so I went on a day trip to Dublin and got some Street Art photos.

That was then followed by two trips to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville and Glenavon.

Another Linfield match, this time on the road, to Ballymena.

The next day, I made the most of a football free Saturday morning to head to Lisnabreeny Hill to get some Sunrise photos.

Then that night, I made my first visit to the newly rebuilt Mandela Hall to see John Power in concert.

November ended with two Linfield matches, both at home, against Larne and Crusaders.

Portadown v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballymena United v Linfield

Lisnabreeny Hill

Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

John Power live at Mandela Hall

John Power live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Crusaders

2022 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield

2022 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September began with a trip to Ballymena to see Linfield get their season back on track with a 4-0 win at Ballymena.

Football then took a break for a bit, but I was back on the road, and visiting a new ground as Linfield travelled to Moyola Park in the League Cup.

More travelling followed, not as far, three days later as Linfield faced Crusaders at Seaview.

Having a football free Saturday, I got up early for a long overdue trip to Giant’s Ring to get some photos as the sun was coming up.

Two days later, was an unexpected Public Holiday, so I headed on the North Down Coastal Path, starting at Helen’s Bay for a change, making my way to Bangor West. I think.

On the following Saturday morning, I made a long overdue return to Belvoir Park Forest before heading to Windsor Park at teatime to see Northern Ireland face Kosovo.

My final adventure of the month was a first concert since June, to The Odyssey to see George Ezra.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Moyola Park v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

Giant’s Ring/Terrace Hill Gardens/Minnowburn

Giant’s Ring/Terrace Hill Gardens/Minnowburn Photo Album

North Down Coastal Path

North Down Coastal Path Photo Album

Belvoir Park Forest

Belvoir Park Forest Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Kosovo

Northern Ireland v Kosovo Photo Album

George Ezra live at The Odyssey

George Ezra live at The Odyssey Photo Album

2022 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Two football matches, two concerts and a trip to Newcastle. That was June.

It was Windsor Park-Limelight on a rotating basis, with Del Amitri and Feeder being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s matches against Greece and Cyprus.

At the end of the month, I went to North-East England (and a bit of Yorkshire), although the only photo adventure was a trip to Jesmond Dene in Newcastle,

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Del Amitri live at The Limelight

Del Amitri live at The Limelight Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Cyprus

Northern Ireland v Cyprus Photo Album

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene Photo Album

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT TELEGRAPH BUILDING 5.12.2022

“It’s been long overdue”, that was Tom Ogden’s words, not mine, on Blossoms return to Belfast.

He was right though, as he recalled “It was before Covid”, which was indeed correct, early March 2020.

That should have been the first of two concerts in ten days for me. The situation escalated so quickly that the second of those concerts was postponed and didn’t take place until over eighteen months later.

Before Covid, they were regular visitors to Belfast, it was almost an annual event.

For me, this would be a fourth different venue seeing them.

The first time I saw them was in Waterfront Hall supporting Paul Weller in 2015.

I only knew of them then as the band who did that song (Charlemagne) that I loved.

Three months later, they were at Voodoo. As much as I loved Charlemagne, I didn’t know any other songs so I didn’t go.

Then came a near annual visit to what would become their spiritual home, in Belfast at least – The Limelight.

March 2017, November 2018 (I missed this as I was at a United match) and then March 2020.

A few months later, came a visit to Custom House Square where they were the support act for a Kasabian concert that never happened.

So this would be a new venue for Blossoms in Belfast, I was surprised by it when it was announced.

I had been to Telegraph Building before, but only once, in 2019 to see Two Door Cinema Club, so I knew what the venue was like.

Support came from a singer called Kynsy, who scored very high on the Toe Tap Chart.

I had made a mental note to buy one of her CDs on the way out but I had forgotten by the time the concert ended.

I’ll have to remedy that at some point soon.

In other new CD news, I got the new Bruce Springsteen album. It wasn’t until the morning of this when I went for a walk up Blackmountain so I listened to it on the drive there. My only CD Player is in the car.

If you care, I give it a thumbs up.

A new venue for Blossoms, surprisingly it wasn’t a sell out.

There was a lot of people in the room, but there was still some space on the floor. More room for dancing I suppose.

Dancing was what a lot of people were doing as Blossoms blasted through their hits, playing songs such as At Most A Kiss, Honey Sweet, Blown Rose, I Can’t Stand It, If You Think This Is Real Life and Your Girlfriend.

The band then left the stage, leaving Tom on his own to do an acoustic set, starting with my favourite room.

In my previous times seeing Blossoms, this had been the cue for Tom to appeal for someone in the crowd who has recently been dumped in order to dedicate the song to them.

Not this time, that was bypassed.

One tradition was upheld, that the song then merges into covers of You’re Georgeous by Babybird and Half The World Away by Oasis.

As it was December, there was an extra one added, with an acoustic version of Last Christmas by Wham!

I’ve checked the rules of Whamageddon and this is ok. Cover versions are allowed.

Unfortunately for me, I would have been already out if I was actively playing it, as Ikea were playing it at full blast at the entrance to their store on Saturday morning as I was walking in.

The rest of the band then reappeared, to perform There’s A Reason Why and Charlemagne.

Hopefully, their next visit to Belfast won’t be a near three year wait.

Photo Album

Blossoms live at The Limelight 2020

Blossoms live at Custom House Square 2017

Blossoms live at The Limelight 2017

JOHN POWER – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 19.11.2022

Death, Taxes and Cast doing a gig at The Limelight. Except, it wasn’t Cast, it was John Power on his own, and it was at Mandela Hall.

For me, it would be my first visit to the newly rebuilt Mandela Hall, although I already had a nosey about the Student Union Complex in early October. This would be my first concert there.

My last concert at the old Mandela Hall, I think, was OMD in October 2017.

It was different. For a start, the venue is at ground level, you don’t have to go down another level to it.

The legendary sticky floor isn’t there. Yet.

It won’t be long until that makes a reappearance, judging by the amount of spilt beer during this gig.

The reason that John Power was in town for a solo show, was to support an event called Foodstock.

Foodstock is a charity in Belfast which provides food for those that need it.

The admission fee for this event was free, but you were asked to make a donation of food in lieu of paying for a ticket.

No pressure on John Power, but he had to put in a performance that was worth two tins of beans and two tins of soup.

I actually have the Facebook Algorithm to thank for this, popping up in my timeline.

Doing it’s job for once, instead of telling me to get down to The Oval to cheer on Mick’s Boys.

Yes, it actually puts that in my timeline.

Power was one of a number of acts appearing at this event.

Just after I arrived, a band called Boss Sound Manifesto appeared on stage.

I’d never heard of them before but they were rather good. Can’t beat a bit of Ska.

They were followed by The Vals.

I’d actually seen them before, in 2010 when they supported Ocean Colour Scene, funnily enough at Mandela Hall.

I can’t actually remember much about their performance, if they good or bad or somewhere inbeteeen.

If I needed refreshing, they were very good.

Turns out, they were also organising the event, with their singer Paul Doherty being the brains behind Foodstock.

They arrived on stage in branded bibs that staff were wearing, no time to change.

As fans waited for John Power, an automated playlist of 90s classics played out over the speaker.

The song that was being played as John Power entered the stage was Walking On The Milky Way by OMD. Quite ironic as they were the last band I saw play at Mandela Hall.

Power entered the stage sipping on a glass of wine, preparing to sing songs that have aged like a fine wine.

As he was in a Student Union Bar, I have my doubts that he was sipping on a fine wine.

His involvement in this was simple, he was asked.

Literally, just asked if he fancied coming along and he said yes.

Power praised the spirit of the festival, and wants to do his own version.

Straight to the point, playing the hits of Cast, songs such as Finetime, Alright, Walkaway and Flying.

At the end, he threw his setlist into the crowd, being caught by someone celebrating her birthday.

The big sash saying “Birthday Girl” on it was a bit of a giveaway.

It was certainly a weekend to remember for her.

Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight 2018

John Power live at The Limelight 2018

Cast live at The Limelight 2016

Cast live at The Limelight 2015

PAUL WELLER – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 12.10.2022

Another Wednesday night, another concert. The third of three in a row, and a case of saving the best for last.

This would be my third time seeing him in concert.

Before I went to my first concert, I was warned that he can be a bit hit and miss, which is what my two previous experiences were.

This one was definitely a hit. Hit after hit.

My third time seeing him should have come two years previously, at Ulster Hall in October 2020, but you know what intervened.

That concert ended up being cancelled, so it was welcome news when this concert was announced.

There was a bit of pressure on him to perform. I’ll explain.

When the draw for the UEFA Cup was done, I wanted to go to one of United’s home games, but make it a Wednesday to Friday trip.

The game against Omonia Nicosia was one I wanted to go to, but it would have meant missing this.

I did end up booking a trip to the Sheriff Tiraspol game a few weeks later.

So, the pressure was one to see if it was worth not going to a United match for.

Although, I ended up being relieved not going to that United match.

I arrived around 7.30pm and mixed feelings that support band Touts were already performing.

Sad that I had missed part of the support act, but happy as it wouldn’t be long before Weller entered the stage.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s something i’ve noticed at concerts, but 30 is the magic number.

The number of minutes turnaround time between the support act leaving the stage and the headliner entering it.

As Touts left the stage at 8pm, my calculation was correct as Weller entered the stage at 8.30pm, jumping straight into lead singles off recent albums before a few Style Council classics.

To give you an idea of the mood he was in, he was even cracking jokes, telling fans who wanted to hear Town Called Malice to go home, watch a bit of TV and then maybe come back in an hour.

After that, it was onto the big solo hits such as From The Floorboards Up, Out Of The Sinking, Into Tomorrow and The Changingman.

And then, after an hour, he exited the stage.

It was only a brief exit, back on to perform some more hits.

I’m not sure if you can call it an Encore, it was too long for that, Part 2 would be more accurate.

Part 2 included some more solo biggies such as Broken Stones, Wild Wood, You Do Something To Me and Peacock Suit.

We were even treated to Start.

I’d actually forgotten how good a song it is. You know how you have that with some songs.

This version was guitar led rather than bass led, giving a funky 60s vibe, although Beatles fans might be rolling their eyes at that statement.

After leaving the stage, it was time for a proper Encore, and definitely not Part 3.

He was joined by Matt from Touts to perform a duet of That’s Entertainment.

That was then followed by Town Called Malice.

I hope nobody did actually pop home to watch TV while waiting for it, they missed a great night.

A nice bonus was that the crowd was sound.

You don’t realise how much a sound crowd adds to a concert until you’re surrounded by pricks.

I had a decent view, and I managed to avoid the Vape Scum who are far too prominent in concerts these days.

An all round good night. Proper lovely.

You know that vibe when you’re just enjoying yourself?

No need to overanalyse, it was a proper great night out. More of this please.

Up next for me in terms of concerts is John Power at Mandela Hall in November.

I’ve already got my first concert of 2023 sorted as well, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at The Odyssey in February.

Another act I should have seen at Ulster Hall in 2020.

Let’s hope it’s worth the wait like this one.

Photo Album

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall 2018

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall 2015

BEABADOOBEE – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 5.10.2022

Beatrice Badoobee, if you will.

Well, she is called Beatrice but goes by the name of Beabadoobee, and she turned up at Ulster Hall to make her first appearance in Belfast.

Just over a year later than planned.

She was scheduled to appear at Oh Yeah Centre in September 2021, but Covid restrictions meant that had to be cancelled.

One year and one album later, she had now upgraded to Ulster Hall.

I first heard about about Beabadoobee when her song Coffee was sampled by Pawfu for his song Death Bed.

Then I heard Care, and did that thing when you hear a different song by someone who did another song you love.

HEY!! THERE’S THAT PERSON WHO DID THAT SONG I LOVE WITH ANOTHER SONG I LOVE!!!!

She is a singer who covers various genres, Grunge, Pop, Indie. You never know what you are going to get.

It was a very young crowd. I was quite relived as the place started to fill up, to see people older than me starting to arrive. Nobody wants to be the oldest person at a concert.

For some reason, I don’t know why, but I always try to place myself on the left hand side of the stage. I don’t know why. It’s just my thing.

This time, I was leaning against a large pole.

They came from Warsaw.

Sorry.

But genuinely, I could only get a place there, it actually turned out to be quite comfortable.

Not as comfortable, was the volume of Vape Scum in the venue. Why the fuck do we as a society consider this to be normal?

As well as a lot of young people, there were quite a few of Belfast’s East/South-East Asian Community.

She was born in Philippines and had finished, the previous week, a tour of that area, taking in Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

This would be my first visit to Ulster Hall in just under three years, since seeing OMD in October 2019.

She entered the stage, bursting straight into Care. The crowd loved it.

There wasn’t much chit-chat, not that I was complaining.

When there was, she asked where the best pub in Belfast (not my specialist subject i’m afraid) to go to after the show was, as she was planning “To get fucked”.

People weren’t slow in shouting out suggestions, but she never revealed where she was planning on going.

I’m sure her army of fans managed to find out.

Further fan favourites then followed, such as 10:36, Sunny Day and She Plays Bass.

After a quick exit, it was time for the encore, entering the stage with only a chair and an acoustic guitar.

With such a relaxed vibe, there was only going to be one song played, Coffee of course.

A perfect way to finish the evening, a chilled out singalong that had everybody in the venue singing along.

The previous night, she performed at Olympia Theatre in Dublin. You can read a review of it from Hot Press here.

Also announced in this week was Sigrid performing at The Limelight in November.

Frustratingly, Linfield are playing a match that night, so i’ll be giving her a miss.

They had better bloody win and make it worth missing Sigrid for.

It’s as if i’m destined never to see Sigrid in Belfast.

I was ummming and aahhing about going to see her support Stormzy at Belsonic in 2019, but she was ill and pulled out and had a lucky escape there.

No Sigrid as things stand, but it wouldn’t be long until my next concert, seven whole days and a return to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Photo Album