2015 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September began for me on the road to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, and get a 1-0 win on a lovely sunny day.

From the road to Fermanagh to the road to France. My next football match came two days later when I saw Northern Ireland take on Hungary in a Euro 2016 Qualifier, knowing that a win sound them to France.

They didn’t get the win they wanted, but a late draw kept them on course to qualify.

Inbetween those two football matches was some graffiti spotting around Belfast.

Two days after that, I was at The Odyssey, now renamed The SSE Arena, to see Florence and the Machine perform the first concert at the newly renovated venue.

Back to Irish League action the following Saturday, a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders, the less said about, the better.

The following Friday, was the highlight of the year in Belfast, Culture Night, and I was out with my camera snapping the action.

I recovered from Culture Night in time the following day to head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint.

The following day, I undertook a post Culture Night tradition by checking out the newly painted Street Art on North Street and the surrounding areas.

The final weekend of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield edge past Glenavon 4-3.

Like the previous weekend, I headed to North Street to get a look at the Street Art painted for Culture Night, as some pieces were still being worked on when I went down the previous week.

I also headed to City Quays Walk for the first time, to see some Street Art that had been painted there.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Street Art

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Culture Night

Culture Night Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

North Street Art Part 2

North Street Art Photo Album Volume 2

City Quays Walk Street Art

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 9.9.2015

It was a night of new beginnings in Belfast, for both artist and venue, as Florence and the Machine kicked off her How Big How Blue How Beautiful Tour by becoming the first music act to perform at the newly revamped Odyssey Arena, or SSE Arena, as it’s now known.

There are now digital TV screens at the entrance and a VIP bar in the concourse. I was standing, so I didn’t get a chance to see what the new seats were like.

One major negative was having to queue for five minutes in order to get a wristband to walk the long way round to go to the toilet. Instead of having security hand out wristbands (not sure why they are needed in the first place), could they not just give them to people to put on themselves?

This gig was Florence’s first of the tour, though she has been performing at festivals throughout the summer, most notably, headlining Glastonbury as a late replacement for Foo Fighters, when Dave Grohl was incapacitated by a broken leg after jumping into the crowd.

It is an occupational hazard that Florence is well aware of, having been in plaster for the early part of this year after a similar mishap.

This gig was mishap free, well, until she accidentally knocked a speaker over a security guard during Dog Days. Thankfully, the security guard didn’t appear to be hurt.

Her band, one by one, walked on stage, but no Florence, she waited and built the tension. Big and dramatic is what she does. Throughout the night, you could the thunderous rhythm of the drums in each song, sounding more intense live than they do on record.

She later told the crowd that she had planned on having a choir on stage with her, but the stage wasn’t big enough.

She began by performing What The Water Gave Me and Ship To Wreck. Quite apt theme given The Odyssey’s close proximity to Belfast’s shipyards.

Florence is no stranger to Belfast, but was last here performing at Tennent’s Vital in 2012, as well as previous appearances at Belsonic in 2010 and an Ulster Hall gig in 2009.

She arrived in Belfast straight from Electric Picnic in Loais and had spent a few days in the city, and had spent the night before in a “Traditional Music Pub”, which turned out to be Kelly’s Cellars.

Florence is either everywhere or nowhere, she disappears for a while, and then just comes back. At the moment, she is everywhere.

As her current rate of albums is one every three years. She might not be in Belfast again until 2018. Florence, and the crowd, were determined to make the most of each other’s company.

She was everywhere on the stage, running about from side to side of the stage, and dancing. I say dancing, it was mainly jumping up and down and pirouetting.

Inbetween songs, Florence stated that she was on her own musical Odyssey, nicely linking to her adding that she is now playing The Odyssey.

It’s seven years since her first hit Kiss With A Fist (which wasn’t played), and she is now at the stage where she has had “a lot of hits”

All the biggies were there – Ship To Wreck, Shake It Up (my own personal favourite), Rabbit Heart, You Got The Love, Spectrum, Dog Days, Drumming Song, What Kind Of Man.

It was a night when everybody in The Odyssey was at some point singing, dancing or clapping along. At some point, doing all three.

There were a few objects thrown from the crowd. Nothing unsavoury, just a bra. Someone also made a flag for Florence, which she accepted and waved on stage. Must be a first for Belfast to see a flag universally cheered.

It’s fair to say, that Florence and her machine, were fully functional. Belfast looks forward to seeing her again in 2018. Or earlier, if she fancies.

Photo Album

50 YEARS OF TOP OF THE POPS : AUG 22 – AUG 28

Hello, and welcome to this week’s round-up of the TOTP archives. We begin, with one of the most criminally under-rated bands of the 1980s.

This is brilliant. Remember, other brands of breakfast cereal are available.

Keith Moon would have been the craziest 68 year old in town this week. Here’s Oasis performing My Generation from a TOTP Special (It got released as a single in 2002 as a triple A-side)

Not quite in the Moon league, but Shaun Ryder celebrated his birthday this week.

Hitting the big 40 this week, is Shifty Shellshock of Crazy Town

Also celebrating a milestone birthday this week, is Jet Black of The Stranglers, hitting the big 75.

And now, some Garbage, a joke, which has been recycled from earlier in the year. Just doing my bit for the environment.

Here’s the Bloodhound Gang with a beautiful love ballad.

Florence from Florence and the Machine turned 28 this week.

Last week, we marked the death Elvis, this week, the birth of the other Elvis.

Not TOTP related, but an absolute treat ……. the time when Elvis Costello gave up pop to become a football pundit for Channel 4.