2014 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began for me with a road trip to Lurgan, to Mourneview Park, to see Linfield take on Glenavon in what could be described as an eventful game.

The following week, it was back to Windsor Park, for the home game against Dungannon Swifts.

The week after that, it was Windsor Park again, for the visit or Glentoran.

Back on the road the week after, to Warrenpoint, to see Linfield do their standard go behind but win it late thing they do up there.

It wasn’t all Linfield though, on the final weekend of the month, I headed to Manchester for a short break, where I got loads of Street Art photos, went to two football matches and two concerts.

That, was my November.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Linfield v Glentoran

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Manchester

Manchester Photo Album

Accrington Stanley v Exeter Stanley

Accrington Stanley v Exeter City Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album 1

Manchester Street Art Photo Album 2

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Ting Tings Live At The Deaf Institute

Ting Tings Live At The Deaf Institute Photo Album

Erasure – Live At Manchester Apollo

Erasure – Live At Manchester Apollo Photo Album

Advertisements

ERASURE – LIVE AT MANCHESTER APOLLO 30.11.2014

I’d always liked Erasure, it was only when I was researching for 50 Years Of Top Of The Pops that I realised how much I liked them. They’re just a constant hit machine.

I’d tried to get a ticket for their Belfast gig at the start of November, but it was sold out within 90 minutes (I know this because I called at the Ulster Hall at 10.30am on the day they went on sale) so I couldn’t believe my luck when Erasure were playing on the Sunday night of the weekend I was in Manchester, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

They entered the stage with Vince Clarke playing the opening bars to Oh L’amour. You could hear Andy Bell’s vocals but couldn’t see him.

Eventually, you saw him, dressed in a sparkly t-shirt, sparkly hat and sparkly leather trousers. He was very, um, sparkly.

Dancing his way through Oh L’amour, the dancing soon stopped afterwards, as he declared himself to be “Stuffed” after eating a Yorkshire Pudding.

The Manchester crowd, long over the War Of The Roses, didn’t boo the reference to their neighboring county.

They weren’t solely plugging their hits, there was new stuff, such as new single Elevation.

Vince Clarke spent most of the gig in the background, pulling the strings. Or rather, pushing the buttons, but sometimes plucking the strings, venturing out to play guitar on songs such as Stop! and A Little Respect.

Clarke got some more attention, as Andy Bell introduced him as “The most beautiful man in the world” before giving him a big kiss.

By this point, Bell had a change of outfit, now wearing a pair of silver hotpants. Guess what? They were sparkly.

More hits followed – Victim Of Love, Love To Hate You and Chorus.

They left to cheers but came back for an encore, featuring two more of their biggest hits – Sometimes and Always, with someone in the crowd throwing a teddy bear at Andy Bell.

The venue is a bit away from the City Centre, so I got a bus back to Picadilly. The 203 to Picadilly became an unofficial Party Bus, with fans singing Erasure songs. When one man wanted to get of he shouted “DRIVER!!! STOP!!!” and then sings the chorus to the Erasure song Stop!, with everybody else on the bus joining in.

I think that’s what you call a good night.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER

Last weekend, I headed to Manchester for a short break. I’d been to the city many times, to go to Old Trafford, but rarely explored it. The only previous time I got the chance was four and a half years ago, in April 2010.

I usually travel to Old Trafford by bus the day before, and only get a brief visit to the City Centre on the day of the game before heading back home the next day.

In June, I decided I would pick a match and make a weekend of it. The problem was, with no European football this season, there was always the risk that I could choose a game, only for it to be moved to a Monday night. So, I chose a Saturday game leading into a midweek fixture list (Hull) and booked a trip from Friday to Monday.

Upon arrival, I got the tram at the new station at the airport. I had to stop off and get a connecting tram to get to my hotel. I would have had to do the same if I was staying in the City Centre. One of the stops on the route, Trafford Bar, is handy for Old Trafford if you’re flying in and out on the same day. In future, i’d probably get the train to Picadilly and travel from there.

My hotel, was at Salford Quays and easy to get to, served by two tram stops. I know the area reasonably well, and it is close to Old Trafford, my main destination of the weekend. Walking past the stadium en route to the Old Trafford tram station (I’d purposely chose to do so, just to have a look at the ground), there was still a lot of activity, with tourists visiting the ground, and unofficial stalls looking to capitalise on their visit.

Getting the tram into the City Centre, the first thing I did was the first thing I do everytime I visit the City Centre – visit Empire Exchange.

It’s a “Retro Junk Store”, but as the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and there’ll always be something in there you want to buy.

From there, I headed to Affleck’s, an independent indoor market space i’d previously visited in 2012. I got sidetracked while there of the mosaics outside, of various landmarks such as both of the city’s football teams, Coronation Street and Factory Records.

I also spotted some Street Art, and then found some more, then found myself getting lost and photographing more Street Art. I love Street Art, but i’d never really got anything photoworthy in Manchester. That was soon rectified.

The Northern Quarter was a part of the city i’d never really ventured to, much to my loss. Lot’s of fantastic independent stores and Street Art, which I enjoyed visiting, and hope to do so the next time i’m in Manchester.

After a walk to check out the Christmas Market at Arndale, I was soon on a bus, to Accrington, to take in some football, Accrington Stanley v Exeter City, before heading back to Salford Quays, with two more busy days to come.

I got up relatively early on the Saturday morning, so I could have a stroll around the City Centre before the match, which kicked-off at 3pm.

Again, I decided to walk to the Old Trafford tram stop, deliberately, just to walk past the stadium. It was quire eerie and surreal to see Sir Matt Busby Way so quiet and peaceful (bar a few street cleaners and stalls) on a matchday.

When I booked the trip in June, Hull City were still in European competition, and i’d hoped they’d get to the group stages of the UEFA Cup so the match would be a Sunday, freeing me up to spend more time in the City Centre and/or going to another game in the Greater Manchester/Lancashire area. However, it was not to be.

I got a tram to the City Centre, having a look around Arndale and Arndale Market, as well as seeing some of the street performers and catching up on some of the Street Art I missed on the Friday (It was coming up to 4pm when I was taking photos, and there’s wasn’t a lot of natural daylight to work with)

It wasn’t just Arndale I went to, I also had a venture around Printworks, the Christmas Markets around there, as well as a visit to the National Football Museum. As I only visit Manchester every 6-7 months (my last visit was 8 months ago, and I didn’t get a chance to visit the National Football Museum), visiting there doesn’t become stale due to the turnover of exhibitions. I took the opportunity to purchase a retro Red/White/Black bar scarf i’d been trying to get for a while.

At around Noon, I got the tram back to Old Trafford to have a look at Red Star Sports and the unofficial stalls, before dropping off my City Centre purchases in the hotel room, before a bite to eat, then into the ground.

The match itself, my first seeing Van Gaal’s United in the flesh, was a routine win, though it wasn’t perfect, due to injuries to Di Maria and Rooney.

Back to the hotel room for a quick change, then out for a quick bite to eat, I headed to the University Area, got hopelessly lost, before finding The Deaf Institute, a bar on the site of an abandoned Deaf Institute (hence the name) to see The Ting Tings.

It was a rather good gig, when you ignore them walking off three songs in due to technical difficulties.

(They did come back on once the problems were fixed)

I allowed myself a bit of a lie-in on Sunday morning, before heading for a stroll along Salfrod Quays, photographing some Street Art i’d spotted from afar over the previous two days from the tram.

The end of that trail, saw me at Cornbrook tram stop, so I got a tram from there to Market Street, having a browse at the Christmas Markets, somehow getting lost in these markets (especially the German market) and ending up in Deansgate.

With a bit of time to spare, I headed to Moston to have a look at FC United’s proposed new stadium, Broadhurst Park, which is at a very advanced stage.

I’ve always been meaning to go to an FC United game, but whenever i’ve actually been in Manchester for a whole weekend, they’ve been away. Even this weekend, with “Big United” playing at 3pm on a Saturday, FC were away.

Hopefully, when the stadium is up and running, i’ll get a chance to visit for a match.

From there, it was back to the hotel, then out for a bite to eat, before heading to Manchester Apollo for Erasure. I’d tried to get tickets for their Belfast gig earlier in the month, but they were sold out. I couldn’t believe my luck when I checked the concert listings and they were playing when I was there, so it more than made up for missing out on the Belfast gig.

In fact, it was a brilliant weekend for gigs in the city, with Erasure, Human League, Ting tings, Imelda May, The Beat and Paloma Faith all playing between Friday and Sunday.

Erasure, were fantastic. The bus back to Picadilly turned into a party bus with revellers singing from Erasure’s back catalogue.

Unfortunately, trams to Eccles (which was the route to my hotel) finish early on a Friday night. If the gig venue was in a more central location, I could have made it. Unfortunately, I had to walk from Trafford Bar to Salford Quays back to the hotel, when I couldn’t have been bothered walking any more.

I had a bit of a lie-in on the Monday morning, before a bit of breakfast, then checking out. The 3pm flight home didn’t allow me much of an opportunity to see the city on the Monday.

With that, my Manchester break was over, I found myself wishing i’d stayed over a few more days for the Stoke game.

Photo Album

Broadhurst Park Photo Album

2010 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

February saw me head to Manchester for a weekend at the start of the month.

I was going to see United take on Portsmouth. but I took the opportunity to go to St Andrew’s the following day to see Birmingham take on Wolves, and see Kelly Clarkson in concert, at the Manchester Apollo that night.

I’d been to Old Trafford many times before, but i’d started to find the trips tedious, always going by coach, and never getting to see the city itself.

So that sowed the seeds of that weekend, wanting to go to a United match a different way, and make a weekend of it.

I also managed to take advantage of other things happening in nearby cities to make a proper weekend of it.

The United match was pretty routine, with United winning 5-0. Portsmouth were so bad, United could have won 10-0 if they really went for it.

The following day’s game was a lot more fiesty, and I was surprised that I was able to turn up on the day and get a general sale (at a reasonable £20) for the West Midlands derby between Birmingham and Wolves.

It was enjoyable to watch a football match without having a vested interested (I was in the Birmingham end, so I suppose I did have to cheer them on) and the atmosphere was brilliant and I learnt some funny tunes at the expense of Wolves from the Birmingham fans.

On my way home from the watch, I stumbled across some heartwarming graffiti, paying tribute to a cup of tea.

After legging it to New Street Station, I managed to get to Manchester for the Kelly Clarkson concert, which was excellent.

Later on in the month, I managed to get some photos of a new mural in Sandy Row paying tribute to the Northern Ireland football team, featuring Warren Feeney and local lad Grant McCann

Sandy Row Football Mural

Kelly Clarkson Photos

Birmingham v Wolves Photos

EVERYONE LOVES A CUPPA

It’s written on a wall in Brimingham, so therefore, it must be true.

I’ll get to how I ended up in Birmingham later. Anyone who has been following me on Twitter will have known how excitable I was about going to Manchester for the weekend.

Why Manchester?, I hear you ask, especially in February, it’s hardly a winter sunshine break.

I don’t know myself really. It had got to early October and I was getting down about the summer being over and the nights getting darker, and earlier, I just wanted something to look forward to, to see me through the winter months.

It had only been a couple of weeks since I was at the Manchester derby, and i’d grown tired of the long bus trips to watch United, and wanted to fly over to a game, and have enough time to actually explore Manchester, rather than getting a few hours on the day of the game.

So, that was it, mind made up. Off to a United game, early in the new year. Pick a game that is easy to get tickets for, on a weekend when Linfield have an away match which is more than missable.

With United at home to Portsmouth, and Linfield away to Distillery, at a ground with no parking, and no good views wherever you are, ticked all the boxes.

Booking this trip, as something for me to look forward to during the long winter nights, soon morphed into my “Something to Look Forward to Every Month” mantra i’m having for this year (and hopefully beyond), being the February event.

So, after all the waiting, I arrived bleary-eyed at Belfast City Airport and thinking to myself that it was not what I had in mind when I was planning this glorious weekend.

It was my first time flying from Belfast City Airport, and the flight was the best flight I have ever experienced, mainly because I slept the whole way through.

Arriving in Manchester, the first thing you notice is how much better the train stations are on the mainland. Self-service ticket booths and shopping to kill the time, compared with the depressing hole that is Central Station.

After arriving at my accommodation, it was straight into the City Centre, and most importantly, Empire Exchange, which was at the top of the street where I was staying.

For anybody who has never been to Empire Exchange, it’s basically like Video/DVD/Book/Magazine shopping in a Tardis. So much stuff you just want to buy, you really have to control yourself from going on a spending spree.

Managed to purchase a couple of old Shoot and Q magazines for £1 a pop. It’s really funny reading these magazines with the benefit of 15-20 years of hindsight.

If I get access to a scanner, i’ll post up a couple of the best parts of the magazines. Any magazine which has an advert for shinguards where Bryan Robson, Ian Rush and Gary Lineker parody Goodfellas deserves to have the piss ripped out of it.

From there, I headed to Urbis, an exhibition centre which will become the National Football Museum in 2011. One of it’s main purposes, is as a studio for the flagship news programme of Channel M (Think of it as NVTV, but with a budget), presented by Andy Crane.

Having decided against stalking Andy Crane, I headed in to view the exhibition looking at 50 years of television history in Manchester. It’s well worth a look, if you happen to be passing.

With the early start, I was knackered, and retired to the room for a powernap before dinner, but I overslept, and basically had to write-off Friday night.

But anyway, Friday night wasn’t the main highlight of the trip, Saturday afternoon was.

With my sleep pattern, gradually getting back to normal, I was up ridiculously early on Saturday morning, so headed into the city centre.

I was meeting a friend for lunch before heading to the game, so I had a bit of time to kill, and headed to the Arndale Centre.

I’d been there the previous day, but managed to find some of Manchester’s hidden pleasures, such as the Arndale Market, which is hidden at the back of the Arndale Centre, amidst all the major chain stores.

I managed to browse into a independent bookstore, which had perhaps the best thing i’ve ever seen.

It was a collection of Tom Baker Doctor Who greetings/message cards (Happy Birthday, Get Well Soon, etc)

It would be the best card ever if you sent it to a friend, but you would hate yourself for actually using them.

From there, I headed to Picadilly to meet the only Man United fan on Merseyside, and we got a train to Old Trafford.

The first thing we had to do was check our GPS that we were at the right stadium, as the amount of Yellow and Green scarves seemed to suggest that we had accidentally ended up at Carrow Road.

You may have seen the scarves at the recent League cup tie with Manchester City. At the Portsmouth, there was far easily more scarves sold and worn. Those wearing Red and White, were in the minority.

We decided to head to the famous Trafford Bar to catch the end of the Merseyside derby. After we queued up, we were surprised to see that the match wasn’t being shown.

It really shows the hardcore anti-Scouse attitude of the regulars that their matches aren’t even shown on TV, to give regulars the opportunity to cheer on the other team

We headed on into the ground for the match, which was an expected routine win for United against a very poor Portsmouth team. If you think they looked bad on the edited highlights on Match of the Day, you had to see it in person for 90 minutes to really see how bad they are.

Heading out, I checked my mobile, and the day got even better with the results from home.

From there, we headed to a bar in the Oxford Road region, which was converted from a public toilet.

Come Sunday morning, I decided to head to Birmingham on a cheap return ticket, to see the city for a day and go to City’s match against Wolves.

I decided to chance it and wait until the day of the game to get my ticket, and I managed to get one with no trouble, which was a bit surprising, bearing in mind it’s a local derby.

St Andrew’s is a strange ground. From the outside, half of it looks no better than an Irish League ground, while the other half looks like the identikit new modern stadiums that have poppoed up in England over the last 20 years.

Inside, the stadium was fine, and I had an excellent view. It’s always good to experience a matchday experience from a different point of view.

The ticket was £20, which is twice the admission of a Linfield home match, so the game had a lot to live up to. It was a good game, but not twice as good as a Linfield match though.

It was a brilliant atmosphere and I especially loved the songs the Birmingham fans were singing to taunt their opponents. So childish and immature, but straight to the point.

There were some strange goings one which had me baffled. At St Andrew’s, all of Birmingham’s substitutions are sponsores, for example “Substitution for Birmingham, brought to you in association with ……..”

I dread to think if this was to catch on at Windsor Park, all of David Jeffrey’s substitutions could be sponsored by Specsavers.

As well ast he substitutions, all of Birmingham’s goals are sponsored as well. Very bizarre.

Back to Manchester, and headed over to the Apollo to see Kelly Clarkson in concert.

It’s a wonderfully strange venue that you really have to go to. A former disused cinema (and an old style one at that), someone just decided to turn it into a concert venue, whilst doing mininal rebuilding work to the interior.

If only someone had decided to do that to The Curzeon, what a venue that would have been.

It was an absolutely brilliant concert, with Clarkson managing to mix a collection of covers and acoustic version of her hits together, even though at times, she was relying a lot on her backing vocalists, which was a shame for such a fantastic vocalist.

Despite spending three days in Manchester, I can’t help but feel that there is still so much more to see. Thankfully, I will be heading back in April (along with trips to Sheffield, Liverpool and hopefully Blackburn) as part of my STLFTEM for April.

The only real disappointment was the lack of celeb spotting. When spotting Brian Laws at the airport is the most high-profile person you see, you know it was a poor show in terms of celeb spotting.

Oh well, at least there’s Ocean Colour Scene next month to look forward to.

Pictures

See Also