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.
1. Gang Of Youths – What Can I Do Id The Fire Goes Out?
2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Black Star Dancing
3. Vampire Weekend – This Life
4. Echo and the Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses
5. Stereophonics – Chaos From The Top Down