On Friday night, I ventured to Custom House Square to see Stereophonics in concert, the only concert i’m attending of the Belsonic event, taking place on eight nights over a two-week period, attracting acts such as Kasabian, Paul Weller and Biffy Clyro to Belfast.
When the original run of dates was announced, i’d blogged about my previous experience of Belsonic in 2008, commenting on how they needed big marquee names for the event, to compliment the critically acclaimed acts, something which it’s predecessor, Tennent’s Vital, always managed to do.
Credit to the organisers, they certainly did that.
Ironically, if anything, I thought they were too ambitious, that they would have been better off compressing the acts booked into three or four nights, as opposed to the eight night run.
The reason I felt was that eight nights was too much, and that Northern Ireland might not be big enough to support eight concerts on this scale, as even the most ardent of live music fan would be reluctant to shell out on three/four/five out of the eight concerts in such a short space of time.
The number of concerts that have been sold out has proved me wrong and is a credit to those involved.
Something that was mentioned on the BBC Newsline coverage of the opening night that caught my attention was of talk of ‘Concert Torusim’, and how Belsonic was being highlighted as a selling point for Belfast for tourists to actually come to the city.
Interestingly enough, the official Belsonic website has a listings guide of hotels and restaurants when attending the event, adding to this aspect.
It’s a bit different to someone seeing a concert of an act they like in a listings guide and building a trip around it (Like I have done twice this year) and actually going somewhere and working the concerts around the trip as opposed to working the concerts around the trip.
For what it’s worth, if I was coming over as a tourist, the two nights that would appeal to me would be Kasabian (Tuesday) and Stereophonics (Friday) and use Tuesday and Wednesday to explore Belfast or go on a day trip somewhere and then head home on the Saturday.
Hopefully, from small beginnings, Belsonic can really explode and become a major summer event (albiet, on a smaller scale) that gets mainstream media coverage on the UK mainland like Glasto, T, Oxegen, V, etc.
Of the nights that appealed to me, Stereophonics was the one I wanted to go to.
Ever since I saw them performing ‘A Thousand Trees‘ and ‘Traffic‘ on Top Of The Pops in 1997, they’ve been one of my favourite bands.
I remember when my older brother purchased a copy of ‘Word Gets Around‘, impatiently waiting for him to head out, so I could sneak into his room to listen to his copy of it.
Even though i’ve only been buying their singles rather than their albums since 2001, they’ve still remained one of my favourite bands.
I’d seen them live twice before. The first time was in 2005 at The Odyssey, and the second time was last year when they were guests on ‘The Friday Show‘, and they were performing a few songs in the studio.
It probably shows how much I love Stereophonics that I was prepared to sit through the recording of such an awful show to see them. During a break after Rachel Tucker fluffed her lines, I managed to feign that I needed to go to the toilet, and then made my escape.
I was originally planning to go and see them at Cardiff City Stadium in June, but other trips took priority and it fell through, so I was doubly glad that they were appearing at Belsonic.
Joe Echo was the first support act, although I was late arriving and missed him. I’d previously seen him supporting Echo and the Bunnymen though.
The next support act was Kids In Glass Houses, best known for the song ‘Undercover Lover‘, featuring Frankie from S Club 8.
They were enjoyable. I wouldn’t turn off the radio if they came on, but I wouldn’t be rushing to turn the volume up.
Stereophonics came on and were excellent, playing a mixture of their best known hits and new songs.
The best thing was, once one song ended, a new one started.
There was no arse-licking patronising about how glad they were to be in Belfast and how Belfast is the best fans ever.
The drums was just a constant ongoing vibe of a band totally on form. They had the crowd in their hand and weren’t prepared to let go.
For their encore, they left the best for last, playing ‘Dakota‘, their only Number One single.
It’s ironic for a band whose best output came from 1997-2001, that their two best songs, ‘Dakota’ and ‘Superman‘ came after this period.
The only downside was the fact that my camera got bolloxed when a drunk spide managed to cover it in spilt beer.
Bizarrely, my last camera got broken at Belsonic.
Managed to get some OK, not spectacular photos regardless. Enjoy.