It was a busy Saturday for me, having to make a quick dash from the celebrations at Windsor Park to Custom House Square to see Echo and the Bunnymen perform as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
The 5.30pm kick-off (I booked my ticket for this before the kick-off was moved) wasn’t ideal, and made me worry that I might actually miss part of the show.
Thankfully, that was not the case, being able to get a lift and arriving just after 8pm, with the stage time being confirmed for 9.15pm making me feel a bit more at ease.
When I arrived, there was plenty of space on the floor.
The support, if you will, according to the e-mail I got from the organisers in advance of the show, was a DJ set from Terri Hooley.
In true Hooley fashion, you could hear his influence even though he wasn’t in the room, a curated playlist of 80s/90s Indie/Guitar Classics entertaining the crowd.
For me, this would be a long awaited first concert of 2022. I’m not sure how I managed to go until the last day of April without seeing one.
Unfortunately, this concert, like everyday life, was spoilt by “The Belfast Disease”.
No matter where I went in the venue, the stench of cigarette and vape smoke was overwhelming.
Was it too much effort to have a tent for all the fucking tramps to go to, well away from the main venue?
Having the main front door wide open and letting them congregate there was the arrangements here.
Absolute fucking scum. Let’s not sugarcoat it, let’s just call it what it is.
Don’t even reprimand me for my language. If anything, i’m being lenient.
Why are we, as a society, normalised to living in a smoke riddled shithole?
Why do we just shrug and accept it?
Politicians like to talk about “Inclusivity” but it’s about more than flags and murals, it’s about being able to actually enjoy what Belfast has to offer.
I can’t do that if I have to hold my nose and cover my mouth to protect myself when i’m going to a concert
I’ve already had to stop going to outdoor concerts because of it, to my own detriment as i’ll be missing out on Simple Minds, Stereophonics and Madness this Summer.
It’s not worth it. It’s not worth going to an outdoor concert as I usually find myself literally struggling to breathe.
There’s no point in confronting someone, nobody will back me up and i’ll get thrown out for causing trouble.
There’s no point in raising it with Venue Staff, nothing will get done.
Let’s lose this attitude of turning a blind eye to vaping, that “It’s not proper smoking”.
It fucking well is and i’m not going to tolerate having it blown in my face when i’m at a concert.
Or indeed, any social situation.
Belfast, as a city, really needs to up it’s game.
We live in a society that works to appease our absolute worst rather than letting our best lead.
Please don’t make CQAF become an event not worth bothering with, because it’s an event I look forward to hearing announcements about shows as they usually have stuff I like and enjoy.
It won’t be worth it if i’m going to have to put up with this every time I go to a show.
Back to The Bunnymen, and it was the usual drill, going through the hits. Well, it was a show called 40 Years Of Magical Songs.
Amongst those played were Rescue, Bring On The Dancing Horses, Seven Seas, Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Villiers Terrace, Nothing Lasts Forever, Never Stop and Lips Like Sugar.
Ian McCulloch’s famously big hair isn’t as big these days, smart and short is the order of the day from what I could see. The lighting was such that you could only see his silhouette, adding even more to the mystique and enigma.
Will Sergeant casually sat there, strumming his guitar, enjoying life. As a side note, he is one of the more entertaining follows on Twitter. He only set it up to plug his autobiography.
McCulloch managed to fit some rants inbetween songs.
He fondly remembered a concert at Ulster Hall in “1980-something”.
A quick look at Setlist doesn’t list a Ulster Hall gig in the 1980s (there was one in 1998) but a quick Google search suggests there was a King’s Hall gig in 1988, which was moved there from Bangor Leisure Centre.
He added that Belfast was like Liverpool but without all the shit bits, being the only place outside Liverpool, apart from Leeds, where people can understand him.
There was also a List Of Twats. with Boris Becker at the top of it, proclaiming “Boris Becker, what a twat” while adding Shaun Murphy to the list, being incredulous that he continues to get Commentary gigs.
I had to Google who he is, turns out he is a Snooker Commentator.
I’m not sure if Ian McCulloch is an avid Snooker fan or just keeps an eye out for the other Ian McCulloch.
If I ever go to an Aerosmith concert, i’ll keep an ear out to see if Joe Perry talks about Snooker.
He also mentioned his joy at the potential of Everton getting relegated, although he may have jinxed that as they won 1-0 the following day.
As it turned up, they stayed up, to the disappointment of the entire nation.
Onto the encore, and we were treated to The Cutter and The Killing Moon, but surprisingly, as i’m sure a lot of people were anticipating it, no People Are Strange.
Unfortunately, this would be only show of CQAF. I wouldn’t have minded going to Shaparak Khorsandi and/or Lucy Porter, but it clashed with my trip to Edinburgh.
A bit ironic, as I usually go to Edinburgh to see Comedy, now i’m missing out on Comedy because i’m going to Edinburgh.
Elsewhere on the concert front for 2022, I have George Ezra (Thank you very much SSE Rewards), Beabadoobee, Del Amitri, Paul Weller and Feeder definitely confirmed.
I’m going to give Travis at Waterfront Hall a miss as it’s all seater but I managed to get a ticket to see (half of) Queen at The Odyssey at the end of May.
May 2019 began with a busy Bank Holiday Weekend, starting off by going to see Echo and the Bunnymen at Custom House Square, Ulster v Connacht at Ravenhill, and then checking out Street Art as part of Hit The North.
The following weekend, I headed to Manchester to see United take on Cardiff City. The less said about that match the better.
On the plus side, I did manage to get some Street Art photos from the city.
That was it. The first two weekends of the month were busy, the second two not so much.
If I was Philip Lowry, i’d be insisting that Echo and the Bunnymen perform at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, as they performed at the event for the first time since 2010, the last time he scored in an Irish Cup Final.
It wasn’t their first return to Belfast since then, stopping off in the city in 2015, but not since.
To the frustration of their Belfast fans, they made a visit to Dublin last year when touring their most recent album, The Stars, The Oceans and The Moon, an orchestral reworking of their greatest hits.
Fans in Belfast were treated to their greatest hits, but no orchestra, it was the crowd who provided the support, singing along to all of their favourites.
It was the weekend of Ian McCulloch’s 60th birthday, which took place two days after the concert, a section of the crowd signing Happy Birthday to him. I’m not sure if it was to celebrate his birthday. but he prepared for this gig with grub at Fish City.
It wasn’t the first time i’d seen a pop star on or around their birthday. In fact, it wasn’t even the first member of Echo and the Bunnymen, having seen them in Glasgow in 2013 the day after Will Sergeant’s birthday, when McCulloch got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to him.
Throughout the concert, McCulloch complained about having itchy feet, but that he wasn’t prepared to take his shoes off as it wasn’t a good look. Didn’t do Sandie Shaw any harm.
For some reason, some numpty in the crowd kept chanting “Pete De Frietas”. You know the sort, tedious bores who think they’re funny and that the band want to have “Banter” with them.
McCulloch corrected his pronunciation of “De Freetas” by pointing out it was “De Freytas”
Among the hits performed were Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Rescue, Never Stop, Villiers Terrace, Nothing Lasts Forever, Seven Seas, The Killing Moon and The Cutter.
The version of Nothing Lasts Forever was a nice chilled out acoustic version of the song, one of a few songs which saw them deviate into snippets of covers of famous songs such as Jean Genie, Walk On The Wild Side, Don’t Let Me Down and Sex Machine
With so many big hits in the main set, it was interesting to see what they saved for the encore. They finished with Lips Like Sugar and Do It Clean.
If it’s May, that can only mean one thing. Eurovision. Well, yes, but that wasn’t what I was thinking of.
End of the football season? Well, yes, but again, not what I was thinking of.
Topless spides drinking in Botanic. Again, yes, but not what I was thinking of.
What I was thinking of was, the annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, the 18th running of this event. Always worth keeping an eye out when the line-up is announced, one of the highlights of this year’s event was a concert by The Divine Comedy. Another highlight was Rich Hall, who I saw two days after this concert.
Any concert in Belfast by a Northern Ireland act is usually billed as a “homecoming” even if the act isn’t actually from Belfast. Neil Hannon telling the crowd “Despite my accent, i’m one of you” in response to a woman screaming “Sold out!!!” in a Belfasty accent.
It was perhaps apt, given the comedic nature of the band’s name, that Neil Hannon was part stand-up when interacting with the crowd between songs stating that the venue reminds him of childhood camping holidays while declaring his love of tents, but hoping that this one doesn’t have any spiders.
This came just after performing a new song, How Can You Leave Me On My Own? about his domestic uselessness, while dressed as Napoleon.
He wasn’t dressed like that the whole show as he had a mid show costume change, changing into a suit, his tie then disappeared by the encore. It was one of those nights.
I remember getting into The Divine Comedy when Something For The Weekend was a UK Top 20 hit, buying their singles after that and being dismayed that their chart positions had two numbers, National Express in 1999 giving them a sole Top 10 hit.
One of those undercharting singles was Bad Ambassador, which Neil Hannon couldn’t remember what year it was released when introducing it. It was 2001 if you care.
Sipping a pint of Guinness inbetween songs, Hannon began grumbling “Drink. Feck. Arse”.
He wasn’t being a banter bore reciting Father Ted quotes. He had some justification. He only wrote the theme tune (Songs Of Love) to the show. The band performed this, with the crowd singing along, not to the words, but the iconic guitar riff known to fans of the TV show.
This being the month of Eurovision, the crowd then began shouting for him to do a cover of My Lovely Horse by Ted Crilly and Dougal Maguire. He decline, so the crowd began shouting “Go on, go on, go on”.
He still wouldn’t budge, preferring to play something, in his words, “obscure” in the shape of Something For The Weekend.
There may not have been a cover of My Lovely Horse, but the crowd were treated to two covers. First, was Alfie by Cilla Black. Why? “Because I like it” according to Hannon.
The second cover was an instrumental version of Blue Monday, kicking in when Blue Monday was mentioned in the lyrics to The Indie Disco.
Two stools were then brought onto the stage as Lisa O’Neill, who supported them then came on stage for a duet. There wasn’t just musical reasons for the chairs, with Hannon quipping “I’m 46 now”.
If you saw him dancing on stage, he didn’t look like a man who needed a breather as he said “See you soon” when leaving the stage.
A Belfast gig being added to their Winter tour looks a good bet.
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
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.
1. Rose Elinor Dougall – All At Once
2. John Hassall and the April Rainers – Intercity 125
3. Rory Lavelle – When The Crazies Come Out
4. Pale Waves – There’s A Honey
5. Coldplay – Something Just Like This
In gig news, Erasure have hinted that they’ll be doing a UK tour in 2018. At least that’s something to gt hopeful about.
Hoped to see The Pigeon Detectives doing an instore gig at HMV Belfast last Friday but it was a meet and greet rather than an instore gig, which was a bit rubbish.
The announcement of the full CQAF line-up is near, but The Divine Comedy and Rich Hall (not a singer, but a bloody hilarious comedian) are definitely worth getting excited about.
Culture Night Belfast has been confirmed for Friday 22nd September this year. Slightly annoyed, as I wanted it to be on that weekend last year. I missed the 2016 night as I was in Liverpool and was desperately hoping they would make it the weekend after. Missing it last year makes me look forward to this even more. A half day has already been applied for.
Oh, and i’m still on the lookout for a Ryan Adams ticket.
May began for me at The Oval for the Irish Cup Final, in the Portadown end, getting absolutely drenched and watching Glentoran win the cup.
Thankfully, the day got better and drier, as I headed to a tent in Custom House Square to see The Charlatans in concert.
Two weeks later, I headed over to Manchester to see United take on Arsenal, and took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos while I was there.
The final weekend of the month saw me head to Ravenhill for the Pro 12 Final between Glasgow and Munster, which Glasgow deservedly won.
The following day, saw me take an early morning flight to Liverpool, to head to Crewe, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in a friendly. The appeal of that was to visit a ground (Gresty Road) for the first time, and the next day to make my every 4-5 years visit to Liverpool.
My Scouse adventures will be in next month’s round-up, as my day there was 1st June.
After an absence of nearly two years, The Charlatans returned to Belfast for a gig at Custom House Square, as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
It was a gig Belfast fans had been waiting for, with Belfast being left off their March tour. A Dublin date was announced soon after, which got fans hopes up, before this date was announced in the middle of March, the excitement begun.
Their last gig was in 2013 at Falls Park as part of Feile. It felt a bit subdued. It would later emerge why that was, as drummer Jon Brookes was gravely ill, before dying the following week. There is a Belfast Telegraph article covering that gig and previewing this one here.
That gig took place in a tent, just like this one. Given the weather outside, fans were thankful of that. The tent factor didn’t go unnoticed by the band, with Tim Burgess commenting “Every gig we do here is in a tent” before being corrected by Mark Collins that it was, in fact, a marquee.
Burgess entered the stage shortly after the rest of the band, who were playing an instrumental version of Forever, with Burgess loitering at the side of the stage, building up the tension.
If it hits you wanted, they didn’t disappoint, with Weirdo, North Country Boy, Tellin Stories, One To Another, How High and Only One I Know all on the setlist.
As well as classic hits, there was also current hits, with singles from their current album, Modern Nature, such as So Oh, May The Good Times Be Never Ending and Talking In Tones all being played.
During the set, someone shouted “Fuck Ronan Keating”, which seemed to be a bit random, until I discovered he got into a spat with the band recently.
Burgess took the opportunity to exhibit his dancing skills during the set, the Belfast crowd danced along with him.
Hopefully, it won’t be long before The Charlatans return to Belfast. If they can’t find a venue to play in, i’m sure somebody will build them a tent.