Another Bucket List Band ticked off. I’d always loved The Pretenders, so it was great to get the opportunity to see them. Especially so as they rarely play Belfast, 2001 was their last visit according to internet research.

As I walked towards The Limelight, I could see Venue Staff unloading beverages, presumably for the band. All bags from Tesco. Nothing but Tesco Finest for Chrissie Hynde.

This was billed as “Unreleased songs and absolutely no hits whatsoever. Well, maybe a few” on the poster. That is exactly what we got. Even though some of the big hits were missing, there was enough to keep people happy.

The first of those hits caused the crowd to think that Chrissie didn’t know where she was.

As she shouted “It’s great to be here in …………” followed by silence, before people started shouting “BELFAST!!!!!”

Turns out, she was waiting for the drum solo to Message Of Love. It was the Drummer’s fault. It’s always the Drummer’s fault. Oldest rule in rock n roll.

The unreleased songs referred to in the build-up? The Pretenders have a new album coming out in September 2023.

Hynde loved not quite a story, but rants and statements inbetween songs. Known for being a bit of a Sweary Mary, she did not disappoint in that regard.

She had the whole crowd bamboozled as she recalled the places they have visited during their brief Irish tour, naming some place that she wasn’t sure what the correct pronunciation was.

There was an awkward silence as nobody knew where she was referring to. Nobody could even try and guess where she was referring to. To this day, everybody who was still is still confused.

Although, her lack of knowledge of how to pronounce place names might be down to the fact that she declared herself to be the only American with no Irish ancestry whatsover.

A big fan of The Smiths, she recalled conversations with Johnny Marr and wished a Happy Birthday to Morrissey. The Belfast crowd were agreeable to him getting Birthday wishes, although he might not have been in the mood to celebrate following the death of Andy Rourke.

Also on her hit list of rants was to ask why bands prefer to play stadiums instead of venues such as The Limelight.

We even had a quiz, with fans being asked what band’s t-shirt they were wearing. It looked like an easy one, as nearly everybody shouted out Joy Division.

Turns out the answer was Low, she even went to see them in concert in London.

There might not have been a prize for guessing what t-shirt she was wearing or for guessing what place she was talking about. However, there were some people who left the venue feeling like winners.

Chrissie Hynde threw some of her plectrums into the crowd. It was like in The Crystal Maze in that round where people are in a glass box scrambling to get prizes.

And I was one of the lucky ones to get a plectrum.

Photo Album


It had been a near three wait, and we lost one of the double act, but it was worth it.

Easter Saturday 2020 was when I should have been seeing Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, at Ulster Hall.

As you know by now, the world took an unexpected turn of events and that got postponed.

Then postponed again and again and again, to the point it got cancelled.

When that cancellation was announced, I was given a window to transfer my ticket in exchange for a ticket to see them at St Anne’s Park in Dublin instead.

I declined that and got a refund. Regular readers will know that I can’t be arsed with outdoor concerts due to being unable to breathe because of tramps on the fegs. I have to look after myself, nobody else will.

Refund back in the bank account, a new concert was announced, so it was off to The Odyssey I headed.

More recent concerts had been at either The Limelight or Ulster Hall, so this was a bit of a jump.

The venue was filled but not full, if that makes sense. Put it this way, there was a bit of wriggle room if you wanted to dance.

A week before, it was announced that Jacqui Abbott wouldn’t be appearing on stage for this concert, resting under Doctor’s orders, having previously missed concerts at the end of 2022.

There would be an able substitute to take her place, in the shape of Rumer.

I wasn’t overly familiar with her. I had heard some songs and was agreeable to them.

She was support act for this concert, and then after a break, would join Paul on a few songs towards the end.

Trev and Simon wouldn’t be on the support bill despite guesting in their recent videos. That was rather disappointing.

Heaton declared his joy at the bond he has with Belfast, coming here to perform for 37 years.

Although, he did lay down a challenge in terms of CD sales.

At each concert, they keep a track of how many CDs get sold at the merch stall, ranking each place they visit. Dublin got a bit of a pasting for their capacity to sales ratio. Hopefully, Belfast wasn’t getting slagged off at the concerts that followed this.

Paul Heaton is such a big star, he has his own Personal Cup Of Tea Bringer, what a job, who walks on stage every couple of songs to bring him a cup of tea.

Unsurprisingly, the playlist was a mix and match from three different stages of his career, beginning with Paul and Jacqui’s most recent single I Drove Her Away With My Tears.

A few songs in, we had a block of Beautiful South hits such as One Last Love Song, Everybody’s Talking and Old Red Eyes.

Of course, it would have been rude not to have a block of Housemartins hits, which followed, featuring The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death and Five Get Over Excited.

Heaton then introduced the band by what football team they support. Leeds and City got booed, a rare feeling of civic pride in Belfast. There are a surprisingly high amount of Rochdale fans in Belfast going by the cheers they got.

Sheffield United got booed, which prompted some rude hand gestures to the crowd in response from Heaton.

The absence of Jacqui Abbott presented difficulties on how some of the songs should be performed, the obvious one being Rotterdam.

Heaton performed it himself, justifying it with “I wrote it”.

That was the cue for Rumer to join him on stage, taking over the Jacqui Abbott role for Song For Whoever, Don’t Marry Her and Good As Gold before they left the stage.

Of course not, there was an encore to come, Heaton saying “I Believe in value for money”

That encore began with Happy Hour, unfortunately the lights were flashing when Paul started dancing, so we couldn’t get to see it in all it’s glory. That was then followed by Perfect Ten, done live as a disco bop.

A quick exit followed by a second encore, featuring You Keep It All In and Caravan Of Love.

It felt like this concert was jinxed. A three year wait, cancelled, then a new one announced with a different venue, then half the line-up was unavailable. It was worth it.

In other concert news, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and KT Tunstall have been announced for Dalriadafest. Tempted by this. Need them to be on the same night and to be able to get there, but very tempted in principle.

Photo Album

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight 2017

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall 2016

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight 2014


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


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


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


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


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


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


“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


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