KYLE FALCONER – LIVE AT THE PALM HOUSE 20.9.2018

Over a decade since The View burst onto the scene, lead singer Kyle Falconer has now gone solo, releasing a debut album in late July, and rolled into Belfast to perform at The Palm House.

It wasn’t the first time he had performed solo in Belfast, though he seemed to be confused when posting on Twitter, as he was one of the support acts for Liam Gallagher last October.

I thought at the time that the unreleased material was decent, and so it proved, when Family Tree was on rotation on XFM, which led me to explore his Youtube channel, and then purchase his album.

It’s the album of the year for me, albeit by default, as it’s the only album i’ve purchased this year.

In all seriousness, his solo album is very decent and you should purchase it.

It was a new venue for me, my first time in The Palm House based in Bankmore Square.

Surprisingly, it was a sparse crowd. Seriously Belfast, what is wrong with you?

On the plus side, it did mean that there was plenty of room to move around and get a decent, um, view, no pun intended.

Falconer walked onto the stage and went straight into one of the standout tracks from No Thank You, Poor Me, which lacked the dramtaic violins on the record, but made up for it with dramatic drums when played live.

All of the standout tracks on his solo album were played – The Therapist, Family Tree, Kelly and Japanese Girl, as well as The View classics such as Blondie and Grace.

He even allowed a couple of fans onto the stage (they did ask him) to perform with him.

There seems to be a Scottish theme to my concerts recently.

Last month, I saw Travis at Custom House Square, while I have just purchased a ticket to see KT Tunstall in March, to go with the ticket for Chvrches in February.

That gig by KT Tunstall is scheduled to be my first visit to Elmwood Hall.

My first visit was supposed to be at the end of October to see Simon Day, but that has been cancelled. I’m not sure why.

There might not have been a lot of people in The Palm House, but those that were there certainly enjoyed themselves.

Photo Album

The View live at The Limelight 2012

Advertisements

THE KOOKS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 3.9.2018

A new album released on the previous Friday, The Kooks rolled into Belfast on Monday for what is billed as a series of small concerts to promote the album, making the two and a half hour trip from Stradbally, where they had played the previous evening.

Unsurprisingly, the setlist was filled with songs from their new album Let’s Go Sunshine, which sounded decent.

Of course, we also got hits, the crowd singing along to the apt intro of “At my show on Monday ….” to She Moves In Her Own Way, with this concert taking place on a Monday. This was my third Kooks concert, taking place on a Sunday, Saturday and Monday. I need four more days to get a full week of The Kooks.

I would have had Tuesday if I went to see them at Belsonic last year when they supported Arcade Fire, but I couldn’t justify the expense only going to see the support act.

This was their first headline gig in Belfast since 2015, with their proposed concert at Feile in 2016 being postponed due to injury.

No injuries tonight, everybody was on top form.

When they performed their more disco-ey songs, Luke removed his guitar so that he could dance while singing. Things were getting serious.

He didn’t quite have the dad dancing of Tim Booth, Tim Burgess, Alex Kapranos or James Dean Bradfield, but he did score high for having more buttons out than in.

The most curious moment of the night came when an audience member handed Luke Pritchard a Sven Goran Eriksson mask, much to his bemusement.

How very 2006.

As they played songs from their first album, Luke remarked that it was like a 2006 Indie Disco. I’ll take his word for it, not that I attended many Indie Discos in 2006.

The encore began with new song No Pressure, before introducing the final song as a song that needs no introduction, by simply saying “You’ll know what song is next”.

You’d be, um, naive not to work out that it wasn’t Naive.

The only downside was that lead singles from their 2008 album Konk, Always Where I Need To Be and Shine On weren’t played, but it was still an enjoyable evening.

The day after, some exciting concert news for The Limelight.

Blossoms announced that they would be coming in November. Unfortunately for me, i’ll be in Manchester that night. Gutted by that. Hoping for something minor but enough to cancel the gig then I can go to the rearranged one.

Ash announced a gig for mid December, The Ash Christmas Bash, if you will, like in 2015.

I got Kyle Falconer’s solo album this week. It’s decent. He’s playing The Foundry later this month. Tempted to go along to that.

Photo Album

The Kooks live at Mandela Hall 2015

The Kooks live at Albert Hall Manchester 2016

TRAVIS – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2018

Waking up on Wednesday morning to the sound of rain, it looked ominous. Of course, with Travis coming to town, it was always going to piss down, possibly because Francis Healy lied when he was 17.

Thankfully, by the time the band took to the stage at Custom House Square, it was now dry, and stayed that way.

This concert was part of a tour where Travis play their 1999 album The Man Who in full. I’m not sure why. 19 years isn’t a milestone anniversary that is usually commemorated.

I’m not a fan of these playing albums in full tours. The only album that should be played in full on a tour is a Greatest Hits album.

I’d been to one of these types of concerts, when Ocean Colour Scene toured Moseley Shoals, so I knew what the deal was. They perform the album, and then do the hits.

Though, most of Travis big hits appear on The Man Who – Writing To Reach You, Driftwood, Turn and Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Surprisingly, when they played Why Does It Always Rain On Me?, it didn’t rain, a song described by Fran Healy as about going on holiday to escape the rain in Scotland, only to find more rain in his new location.

Thankfully, it wasn’t windy either, due to Healy wearing a kilt, meaning that Angus Young isn’t the only Scottish musician who can confidently expose bare legs on stage, as Francis Healy is now morphing into Francis Rossi by having a manbun these days.

His partner in crime, Dougie Payne, brother of Max, was dressed in shirt and tie.

This was my first time seeing Travis, though it should have been my second. I won a ticket for T In The Park in 2002. Travis were due to perform, but had to pull out due to Neil Primrose suffering injury on holiday. While waiting for a band to appear on a stage, BBC Scotland arranged for the audience to record a get well soon message.

The Man Who was a soundtrack to my late teens, though really, for me, it was a stop-gap until the forth Oasis album. Travis were everywhere back then.

They continued to bring out brilliant tunes, but by 2003, people stopped buying their records.

Healy told the crowd about a concert in Belfast while touring The Man Who first time around, saying it took place in “A classical building”.

Half the crowd shouted “Ulster Hall” while the other half shouted “Waterfront Hall”. Research on the internet suggests they played Waterfront Hall on Sunday 12th December 1999.

At that gig, somebody threw a pair of knickers at him, which he threw to the side of the stage, hitting and distracting their sound mixer.

Of those songs that people (idiots) no longer buy, was My Eyes, released in 2007 but written in 2006 on the day he found out he was going to be a dad, adding that his son is now addicted to Fortnite, whatever that means.

Apparantly, it’s a video game. The last video game I played was on the Sega Mega Drive.

Fans were treated to hits such as Love Will Come Though, Side (their best song, should have been the lead single from The Invisible Band), Closer, Flowers In The Window and Sing.

Fittingly, for the encore of a concert celebrating an album released in 1999, they signed off with the biggest song of 1999. It wasn’t one of theirs, it was a cover of Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, as Healy declared “See you soon”, teasing at a quick return to Belfast.

Photo Album

TURIN BRAKES – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 22.8.2018 (CHSQ)

Can’t believe i’ve got cheap travel to go and see Cristiano Ronaldo play for Juventus. Oh, wait, i’ve already done that Turin Brakes joke when I saw them in January.

Not a Travel Agent that specialises in a city in Italy, Turin Brakes are a band, and a band I loved in my late teens, so when it was announced that they would be supporting Travis on tour this Summer, it was great that Belfast would be also included when it was announced they would be joining Travis at Custom House Square.

They were a perfect warm-up for Travis, nice wee chilled out tunes that you can tap your toes to, the band playing, in their words, under the influence of some Guinness in a pub opposite The Black Box, a venue they fondly remembered, playing hits such as Painkiller and Underdog.

Photo Album

Turin Brakes live at Fopp Covent Garden January 2018

KASABIAN – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 20.8.2018 (CHSQ)

There is always some sort of wait for a concert. For Kasabian fans in Belfast, they had to wait a little bit longer for this one, taking place 363 days later than it should have, having been cancelled due to illness with fans in the venue in August last year.

Nearly a year on, fans returned to Custom House Square, except for the three that died waiting.

Waking up on Monday morning to rain, the weather picked up where it left off from that night in August 2017. Thankfully, it got better, drying up during the day, though there was drizzle at the start of Kasabian’s set before getting worse by 10pm, necessitating the need for me to use the poncho in my pocket, which some kind concert neighbours helped me put on. See, not all Belfast people are arseholes.

Yep, another outdoor Belfast concert infested with scummy tramps. You know what i’m referring to.

Last August, Blossoms were the support act. With a new album and doing the festival circuit this Summer, it wasn’t unreasonable to hope they would make a return to Belfast, but it wasn’t to be.

Blossoms have a tour announced for later this year but no Belfast gig, so fingers crossed that means they’ll be doing a festival here in Summer 2019.

The support act for this concert was a band called DMAs, who were decent even though they looked like the world’s shittest football hooligan firm.

Kasabian entered the stage and went straight into blasting out their hits, leaving very little time for interaction with the crowd – Club Foot, Ill Ray, Underdog, Shoot The Runner, Days Are Forgotten, Eez-Eh and You’re In Love With A Psycho all delighting the crowd.

One man in front of me was enjoying himself so much, he was jumping up an down as if Madness were playing a ninety minute version of One Step Beyond.

Eventually, the band made reference to the cancelled concert last year, with Tom saying “Sorry, I was ill” and the band dedicated LSF to the fans who came back the second time.

Serge then turned his attention to residents in nearby apartments, asking one person to get him a packet of crisps, which he did, a packet of Space Raiders, since you ask. Tom then asked if he could move in with him.

By the time we got to the encore, the band ended with Fire. They were on fire. It was worth the wait.

Photo Album

Kasabian live at The Odyssey December 2014

GEORGE EZRA – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE (CHSQ) 10.8.2018

No pressure on George here, but I was giving up not one, but two, football matches to be here – missing Linfield’s match against Institute as well as Man United being on TV.

At around 9.10pm, George entered the stage to the sound of Soul Bossa Nova by Quincy Jones, which you know better as the theme tune to Austin Powers, though you would hardly describe him as an International Man Of Mystery, his drummer banging out a thunderous drum beat and ventured close to In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, the lighting went similarly thunderous as he took his place at the mic stand.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the cue for inclement weather as Belfast stayed dry, despite rain earlier in the day.

He jumped straight into Cassy O, a song which was my introduction to his music, and the same for a lot of people, as the crowd along “Cassy oh oh oh oh oh” at the chorus.

This might have been his third concert in Belfast, but his introduction to Northern Ireland on the other side of the Glenshane Pass, in Derry as part of Other Voices.

His two other concerts in Belfast, both at The Limelight, have represented milestones in his career.

In 2014, the performed there shortly after his debut album Wanted On Voyage had got to Number 1, though it is a concert that is yet to reach the mythical levels of Oasis at the same venue on the night Definitely Maybe did the same.

Fast forward two and a half years to May 2017, and he was back to preview songs from his second album in what was billed as the Top Secret Tour. This concert, the first of a series of outdoor concerts called CHSQ (abbreviation fans will note that this means Switzerland Squared) was anything but secret, selling out well in advance.

By the time Ezra took to the stage, Linfield were 2-0 up, so I could enjoy the concert without having to worry about the score, although I thought that when they went 2-0 up just as Noel Gallagher entered the stage at The Odyssey in May. Thankfully, there was no repeat of what happened that night.

From one Gallagher to another, entering this concert had similar problems to Liam Gallagher’s at Ormeau Park in June. There was an equal split amongst security staff when entering, but an unequal gender split in the make up of the crowd, which was largely female.

While men were able to quickly negotiate shorter queues for getting in, women were having to wait in larger queues (the reverse was the situation at the Liam Gallagher concert)

Not very convenient if you are attending as part of a mixed gender group, as you have to stand about and wait for the rest of your party to get searched.

Is it really to hard to collate information from ticket sales and staff accordingly?

Of those that were in the venue, it was infested with rancid hags. Everywhere you went, puff puff vape vape.

I know I mention this at every outdoor concert, but I will continue to mention it until it is addressed.

I am fed up of being held to ransom by inconsiderate arseholes. Why should I have to spend evenings holding my nose and covering my nose when watching my favourite acts?

Belfast likes to market itself as some sort of trendy and cosmopolitan place to visit. It’s not, it’s a rancid shithole. Outdoor concerts are just one of many things you can’t do in the city without having cigarette smoke blown into your face.

As said before, smoke free venues should be part of the licensing criteria for outdoor events. If Eventsec can be instructed to confiscate bars of chocolate, they can confiscate cigarettes and vapes.

Time for Belfast City Council to take some action and address this. Their apathy will give us a shithole of a city to live in.

Sadly, our Politicians are more interested in avoiding parking fees and complaining about the names of bus stops than tackling real issues that affect people.

You know i’m right on this matter. Smokers, feel free to justify your behaviour. You can’t, because you’re scummy tramps.

When he performed at The Limelight in 2017, Ezra was debuting material from his second album. Barring the single Don’t Matter Now, which had just been released, nobody really knew the new songs. By now, we were all familiar with them.

Rather than the usual “How are you INSERT NAME OF TOWN?” and “YOU GUYS ROCK!!!” between songs, Ezra told stories of the origins of the songs, how they came to be and what inspired them. There were some interesting stories.

A lot of his work has been inspired by visiting Barcelona, a song he performed. I shouldn’t really need to tell you that it’s not a Freddie Mercury/Montserrat Caballe cover.

Having visited Barcelona in 2011 and 2015, I can confirm it is an utterly brilliant city.

It wasn’t all fun, as he remarked that spending a month housesharing with a stanger might not have been his smartest idea.

It was the story of a visit to Sweden that produced the biggest cheer. A friend had put him in touch with three Swedish women to live with. The problem was, they love Eurovision and they were making him watch it for the first time. He wanted to have some alcohol while watching it, but the town he was in has an alcohol curfew, so he had to resort to purchasing some rum illegally on the black market, to the cheers of the crowd, with Ezra remarking “You’re better than that”.

Naturally, i’ve reported him to Rex Banner.

His storytelling usually involved accidentally revealing what song was next within two sentences, meaning there was no suspense in his stories.

He might have only two albums, but Ezra has a lot of hits, all of which were performed – Budapest, Blame It On Me, Barcelona, Budapest, Don’t Matter Now, Listen To The Man and Paradise.

As he left the stage, the crowd began singing Shotgun, a subtle hint for what they wanted during the encore, which he delivered.

As fans left the venue (which took an age, due to only one exit) we were treated to Public Address announcements which could be best described as Yer Da taking control of a microphone in a pub to do a stand-up routine. After a few pints. Every bit as horrific as it sounds.

Photo Album

George Ezra live at The Limelight May 2017

George Ezra live at The Limelight October 2014

LIAM GALLAGHER – LIVE AT ORMEAU PARK (BELSONIC) 16.6.2018

Before he was that guy on Twitter who calls people a potato, Liam Gallagher was once a rock star. He was quite good at it. He still is.

His magical powers aren’t just for belting out a tune, he can influence the weather.

On lunchtime of the day of this concert, Belfast was covered in a monsoon of rain. Liam turns to Twitter and tells the rain to fuck off, which it does for the rest of this day, meaning there was no need to bring a raincoat to this.

There were plenty of raincoats in the crowd through, of the Stone Island variety. Accompanied by sky blue bucket hats, charity shop sunglasses and a pack of fags to make themselves look really hard. Harry Enfield really nailed the Gallagher Fanboys back in the day. Still as funny now as it was in the 90s.

The crowd assembled, nicely warmed up by Richard Ashcroft and ready to be entertained. Or at least, make it worth missing Croatia v Nigeria for.

Big shout out to the group who shouted “MON THE LINFIELD!!!!” as I walked past them to get my spot.

Changing spots was unfortunately something I was doing quite a lot. Mainly due to the fact the venue was infested by smelly tramps. Literally surrounded by them. Puff puff vape vape. Dirty fucking tramps.

The thing about Liam Gallagher is, when you get a decent view of him on stage, you’ve got a decent view of him for the whole concert. He doesn’t really move about. He’s not going to stride about from side to side like Freddie Mercury.

He stands on stage and sings. That’s what you’ve paid for, and that is what you’re getting.

A chant of “Championes, Championes” blasted out on the PA, never had Liam down as a Crusaders fan, signified his impending arrival on stage. The screen on stage showed a video of him backstage as he walked on, pointing right into the camera.

He arrive on stage and went straight into Rock n Roll Star, a statement of intent and then Morning Glory.

However, Liam has recent music as well, a solo album As Your Were. It’s quite decent, and all the biggies from it were played – Greedy Soul, Wall of Glass, Bold and For What It’s Worth, before bouncing back into Oasis classic, albeit less obvious ones such as Bring In On Down and Listen Up.

Liam Gallagher has the ability to be both predictable and unpredictable at the same time.

It’s always important to get a good mix. We were here to see Liam Gallagher who was once in Oasis, not Liam Gallagher from Oasis.

Back to solo hits, I’ve All I Need soon followed. It’s a song that has grown on me. Really grown.

I thought it was ok when I got the album, but with every listen (it’s currently on heavy rotation on Radio X) I love it.

He started the set with two era defining Oasis songs, and finished it with two more. Whatever, their first Top 5 hit which brought them to a bigger audience, followed by D’You Know What I Mean?, the first single from Be Here Now, both landmarks on his career.

This concert came a few days before another Gallagher landmark. June 20th was the 9th anniversary of the fifth and most recent time I have seen Oasis in concert. It is still my belief there will be a sixth time.

If there insn’t, i’m at peace with that, given both Gallaghers solo outputs.

As Liam walked off the stage, we awaited his return for the encore.

We didn’t get Liam, we got his drummer sneaking onto the stage under darkness, to belt out the opening beats from Supersonic. Another landmark, it was Oasis first single.

Oasis songs in the setlist weren’t to everyone’s liking, as Liam took aim at what he described as Keyboard Warriors who criticise him for playing too many Oasis songs (to be fair, he only has one solo album worth of material to work from. That will change in 2019 though)

It was a bit hypocritical of him, considering he had his own setlist criticism, complaining about the pre-gig setlist on the tannoy, especially the absence of I Am The Resurrection by Stone Roses.

It felt like there was a theme to the setlist, with the Oasis songs being landmarks. The next one was Some Might Say, their first UK Number 1. It sounds brilliant live but there is one problem. The “You know what some might say” backing vocals at the end don’t quite sound the same when sung by someone other than Noel Gallagher.

That was followed by Live Forever, their first UK Top 10 single, which he dedicated to Alex Higgins, and mimicked taking a Snooker shot.

Through all this encore, we were treated to a guest appearance from Bonehead, whose garden didn’t need looked after so he came out for his one gig a year.

As he ended his set, Gallagher told the crowd that going past various pubs when travelling to the venue had seen him licking his lips in anticipation, which is what his plans were, telling the crowd he was away for a Guinness.

He had earnt it.

Those plans, a bit further ahead, include a return to Belfast at some point in 2019.

Meanwhile, final details were announced that Mandela Hall will be closing next month. Don’t worry, i’m not going to write some arse-licking “You had to be there” obituary. Went to a few gigs there, and they were mostly decent.

Never again shall I walk like a Spaceman due to the sticky floors.

So, my Mandela Memories – Little Boots in 2009 (a week before I moved this blog to WordPress, meaning I can’t link to a write-up), Tegan and Sara in 2010, Marina and the Diamonds in 2010 and KT Tunstall in 2016.

I’ve also seen some men perform there too. Starsailor in 2003, when James Walsh triumphantly announced that Gary Jules had beaten The Darkness to Christmas Number 1, Ocean Colour Scene in 2010, The Kooks in 2015 and Echo and the Bunnymen in 2015.

The reason why Mandela Hall is closing is due to a redevelopment of the Students Union facility. To compensate for this, Elmwood Hall, next door, will now be used.

I’m hoping to go to a concert there sometime, same with The Telegraph Building. Just need a band I like to perform there.

My last concert there was OMD in October 2017. Not going to lie, it was one of the best concerts i’ve ever been to.

Not a bad way to go out.

Photo Album

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey October 2017

RICHARD ASHCROFT- LIVE AT ORMEAU PARK (BELSONIC) 16.6.2018

This year marks ten years since the first Belsonic. In those ten years, it has expanded, moved venue, changed month and then changed venue again.

When it started, it was mid August in Custom House Square. Now it is mid June in Ormeau Park.

Walking towards the venue, there were boardings put up to cut off the venue for the concert from the rest of the park. It looked rather drab. I couldn’t help but think that a mural featuring those acts who have performed at Belsonic over the past decade would have brightened up the venue.

Due to the wide nature of acts peforming, it is impossible for someone to be a fan of every act. Just the one Belsonic concert for me this year, as Richard Ashcroft would be to support Liam Gallagher, just as he did the previous night at Malahide Castle in Dublin.

The two of them will already be used to each other, having toured North America together in May.

For Richard Ashcroft, it would be a long awaited return to Belfast. The most recent gig as a solo artist (The Verve did play The Odyssey) that I am aware of is him supporting Coldplay at The Odyssey in 2005.

Upon arrival in Belfast, Ashcroft went exploring the city. I was hoping he might re-enact the Bittersweet Symphony video in the City Centre, just to send out a message to the slow walkers and footpath blockers.

He didn’t venture too far from Ormeau Park, heading to 16 Burren Way in Cregagh. If you don’t know, that’s the childhood home of George Best, and boasted to the crowd that he did a few keepy-uppies outside it.

As he entered the stage, he dedicated his performance to George Best, even having a mannequin with the Northern Ireland shirt as a stage prop, the shirt printing of ASHCROFT 11 being clear for all to see.

I’ve been a fan of Richard Ashcroft for a long time, especially loving Urban Hymns by The Verve and his debut solo album Alone With Everybody.

Disappointingly, none of the big singles from his debut solo album were played, such as Song For The Lovers, I Get My Beat, Money To Burn and C’mon People.

Ashcroft was delayed getting on stage by about fifteen minutes. Thankfully, due to the delays in getting in.

Security searches getting in were segregated by gender. The breakdown of the crowd was overwhelmingly male. It was obvious this would be the case.

However, staffing did not reflect this. While men were made to wait in slow moving queues, women were able to get in quicker.

If you were a woman or part of a group of women attending with a man or group of men, you were having to loiter about and wait for your friend(s) to get through.

Surely, getting info from sales from Ticketmaster could have helped them prepare better.

The same complaint would apply if it was an act appearing who would attract a majority female audience at their concerts.

Going through security, I had a bar of chocolate confiscated. Yes, really.

Cigarettes and vapes are fine, but a bar of chocolate is not allowed. What sort of fucked-up society are we living in?

There were times when you could barely breathe due to the fumes, but apparently someone having a bar of chocolate is more of a health and safety concern?

The Eventsec goon who confiscated my chocolate didn’t look when chucking it in a bag, and it hit the top of the bag and didn’t go in. I took back what was mine when he was searching people after me. Up yours Eventsec.

As hinted, this was another outdoor event in Belfast infested with fucking tramps that can’t go a few hours without a smoke. Literally surrounded by them.

Am I the only person who sees this?

As a society, we seem to just scratch our arses when it comes to the matter.

I know I keep mentioning it, but i’m going to keep mentioning it until it gets tackled and addressed.

Belfast City Council could take the lead on the matter and make smoke free venues a clause when granting licences for events.

If the Organisers can instruct Eventsec to confiscate chocolate from people, they can get Eventsec to confiscate cigarettes and vapes. Put it on the posters and tickets so everybody knows.

If somebody complains, fuck em, They can fuck off and go elsewhere. Society is moving on, and we don’t need tramps like that infesting outdoor events.

The important thing is, nobody was able to bring any chocolate into the venue.

Back to Ashcroft, and unsurprisingly, we was belting out a lot of The Verve’s hits – Sonnet (shamefully low chart position) and Lucky Man, which he dedicated to Kate, who I presume is Kate Radley from Spiritualized, his wife.

The Drugs Don’t Work, The Verve’s only Number 1, is a bloody awful song. He performed it, but solo acoustically, and it wasn’t that bad, to be fair.

Ashcroft, then went into a Yer Da type rant about how music was better in the old days, while revealing that he doesn’t do “Banter” with the crowd because he can’t hear them due to an earpiece.

He was pumped up, throwing his microphone down during one song, and by the end of the show, having half of his shirt unbuttoned, and pulling a muscleman pose similar to Mario Balotelli when he scored against Germany in Euro 2012.

We also got some solo hits, such as the fantastic Break The Night With Colour, before he ended on Bittersweet Symphony, before announcing that he will be returning to Belfast before the end of the year, but left us all in suspense by not saying where or when.

Looking forward to it.

Photo Album

FRANZ FERDINAND – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

It had been a while, but Franz Ferdinand were back in Belfast, performing at Biggest Weekend at Titanic Slipways.

I had seen Franz Ferdinand before. It was a while ago, back in 2005 at Tennent’s Vital in Botanic Gardens along side Scissor Sisters.

Frustratingly, their short-lived but superb supergroup with Sparks, FFS, were playing Edinburgh when I was there in August 2015, but I was unable to see them. I went to see Aisling Bea instead.

The band entered the stage with Alex Kapranos wearing a suit with trainers. It would soon become apparent why.

Franz Ferdinand have a sound and they don’t deviate from it. It’s a great sound, that’s why.

They do guitar music you can dance to, or is it dance music you can play guitar to?

Either way, the crowd, myself included, was toetapping along as they performed their biggest hits.

Alex Kapranos was doing more than toetapping, doing all sorts of dancing, pirouetting, and even managing a few Peter Schmeichel-esque starjumps while playing guitar.

If anyone from Strictly was watching, sign him up.

They began with Always Ascending, the title track from their current album, before following it up with No You Girls.

Then followed Matinee, one of the two major hits from their debut album that made me fall in love with them back in 2004.

Back then, we was on BBC 2 telling Terry Wogan how he made.

Sadly, of course, Terry Wogan isn’t on BBC 2, or any channel these days, so the lyrics were changed to simply say “So i’m on BBC 2, telling Terry how i’ve made it”.

It could be Terry Christian?

That was then followed by Do You Want To?, the lead single from their second album You Could Have Had It So Much Better, which spawned other fantastic singles such as The Fallen and Eleanor Put your Boots On.

Saving the best, they finished on Take Me Out (like a few couples have. No likey, no lighty)

And that, was my Biggest Weekend over. I didn’t bother hanging around for Underworld.I was already danced out anyway.

Photo Album

300x300300x3001300x3002300x3003300x3004300x3005300x3006

 

 

 

 

 

ASH – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

For me, it would be Ash who would be kicking off the second day of Biggest Weekend, as I headed back to Titanic Slipways to see them on the Saturday.

I could get used to afternoon concerts.

With a scheduled stage time of 4.10pm, i’d be heading over earlier than I did the previous day. Of the Saturday line-up, Ash and Franz Ferdinand were the acts I wanted to see the most.

For some, it would be the second time of the weekend they would be seeing Ash, as they did an instore appearance at HMV on the Friday teatime.

I wasn’t at that as I was heading to Biggest Weekend. I’m sure there were others in the same situation. I know we were getting to see them anyway, but it would have been nice to see them twice, and in a different kind of setting. They really could have scheduled that better.

I might have been in East Belfast, but it felt like Kiev with the amount of Liverpool shirts in the venue. Hope they enjoyed hearing the score when watching underworld. Born Slippy would be an apt description of Loris Karius handling and shotstopping.

Of all the concerts to go on Saturday, I was thankful, I wasn’t at Echo and the Bunnymen in Birmingham, with the band grumpy at having to do the concert after previously cancelling it because they wanted to watch Liverpool v Real Madrid and then relenting after anger from fans.

Ian McCullough enters the stage grumpy (to be fair, he’s always grumpy) as Liverpool go 1-0 down in a room full of Aston Villa supporters annoyed that their side has just lost 1-0 to Fulham in the Championship Play-Off Final. Gloriously miserable.

Ash at Titanic was thankfully a lot more upbeat, as the band began with Burn Baby Burn (which is what a lot of the crowd were doing due to the sun), which the audience were told when the band was being introduced was the first song played on 6 Music.

Afterwards, they announced they only had 35 minutes left, and were going to perform hits, which is what they did, performing songs such as King Fu, Oh Yeah, Shining Light and Girl From Mars, as well as more recent hit Annabel.

There was a brief chat where Tim Wheeler reminisced about Ash most famous concert, which recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary, at Waterfront Hall, when Bono turned up as a guest alongside David Trimble and John Hume.

Guest stars seem to be a bit of a theme when Ash play Belfast.

When I saw them at The Empire in 2015, Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol joined them onstage.

Tim announced that “Two legends from Derry” would be joining them.

Who could it be? Nadine Coyle? Dana? Fionnuala that owns the chippy?

Sadly, it wouldn’t be Baltimora. That would have been remarkable.

It was Mickey Bradley and Damien O’Neill from The Undertones.

Both of them had contributed to the recording of Buzzkill from Ash’s current album, which they performed together.

It would have been a waste to bring them down from Derry for just one song.

Tim Wheeler then reminisced about getting a guitar on Christmas Day and the first song he learnt. He said he was now getting the best guitar lesson in the world, as the men who wrote it would be performing it with him.

That song, of course, was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, which Ash signed off with.

This was a local gig for Ash, after that, the line-up took on a Swedish theme with Neneh Cherry followed by First Aid Kit.

I like some Neneh Cherry songs, so it would have been rude not to stay for her. It wasn’t a long set, but it was more than Seven Seconds (Sorry).

Incidentally, that wasn’t performed, not that unsurprising given the logistics involved in getting Yossou N’Dour over or getting someone to sing his parts.

We did get Manchild, which was her opening song.

We also had some new songs, as she apologised for having to read some lyrics off a sheet which she blamed on “Old age” (She’s only 54) but added that and advantage is that she is now known as “Big mamma” in her house.

She then announced that her final song would be “A jazz song”. Surely she wouldn’t do a set and not perform Buffalo Stance?

She did a bass and synth heavy reinterpretation of the song as we know it. It was superb. It was definitely better than Kayleigh’s version in Car Share.

I wasn’t really that fussed on First Aid Kit (though I do love My Silver Lining) so I decided to go for a bite to eat during their set.

Talking of which, I do understand economics and cashing in when there’s a market, but some of the prices being charged for food and drink (I can’t comment on the bar, i’m talking about the food vans) were scandalous and taking the piss.

It was made worse that there was no readmission so people couldn’t pop over to The Odyssey or to a cafe beside Spar for a bite to eat. People were stuck where they were, and got exploited as a result.

So, fed and rested (and ripped off) I was now ready for Franz Ferdinand. You can see photos of Neneh Cherry here.

Ash Photo Album

Ash live at The Empire 2015