2017 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

In the first week of October 2017, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Germany in a World Cup Qualifier.

That was sandwiched inbetween me going out around Belfast to check out Street Art which was painted as part of Hit The North, these pieces were still works in progress when I went to photograph them in September

The following day, I went to my one Rugby match a year, as Ulster beat Wasps in the European Cup.

It was back to football the following day, seeing Linfield take on Coleraine.

There was a glut of concerts towards the end of the month, going to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, OMD and Liam Gallagher, with Linfield’s matches against Ards and Crusaders sandwiched inbetween.

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Hit The North Mop-Up

Hit The North Mop-Up Photo Album

Ulster v Wasps

Ulster v Wasps Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

OMD live at Mandela Hall

OMD live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Ards

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey Photo Album

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OMD – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 24.10.2017

“It’s great to be back, it’s been a long time” said OMD singer Andy McCluskey to the crowd at Mandela Hall. He wasn’t wrong. It had been 8 years since they were last in Belfast, supporting Simple Minds at The Odyssey. You have to go back to 1991 (Ulster Hall) for their last headline concert in Belfast, referenced by McCluskey during the set. Paul Humphries didn’t remember that gig, possibly because he had left the band by that stage.

I love Simple Minds and OMD. To be honest, I have no clue why I didn’t go to that Odyssey gig. I genuinely can’t think why. What a wasted opportunity.

It is the pester power of Northern Ireland fans that brought them back to Belfast, as McCluskey recently stated in an interview with Sunday Life.

For me, it began with a sick day off school in 1996.

I flicked through the channels and spotted something on the music channels (There were only two back then, it was VH1)

It was a cheery, happy, Britpop song called Walking On The Milky Way by a band called OMD. I loved it. Little did I know it was different, very different from the rest of their back catalogue.

I did know, not to confused them with OMC, who were in the charts around the same time. How bizarre.

A while later, I heard Enola Gay on a radio station. I knew I liked two OMD songs. I only knew two OMD songs.

By 2002, I had recently joined the Music Library at Belfast Central Library. I decided to be curious and borrow The OMD Singles, a 1998 Greatest Hits compilation.

I was not to be disappointed. Not once was the skip button pressed. It became one of my favourite albums.

At this point, Andy McCluskey was enjoying chart success, including the number 1s that eluded OMD in his new role as Songwriter for Atomic Kitten.

OMD would later reform and tour, but there was to be no Belfast gig, until now.

When I arrived at the venue, I wasn’t really in the mood for it. I was tired, had a sore head, and was drenched due to walking from Belfast City Hospital. The reason why I was parked there because people in Elmwood Avenue found parking one car in one parking bay to be too much fucking effort.

Forget about The Punishment Of Luxury, this was The Punishment Of Idiot Drivers.

The band appeared on stage, with Andy doing his trademark Dad Dancing. At 58, he is of peak Dad Dancing age. His best Dad Dancing years are still ahead of him. In truth, he has been dad dancing since his early 20s.

I googled his name for this article just to make sure if was McCluskey rather than McCloskey. The first suggestion was “Andy McCluskey Dancing”

Two songs in, he grabbed his Bass, proceeding to play it like Brian May rather than John Deacon.

To keep up with the Queen theme, we even had the fans doing a Radio Ga Ga style clapping in unison during Locomotion.

McCluskey then asked the crowd if they had their dancing shoes on. He certainly had. The answer was a resounding yes.

He was putting his life in his hands dancing on stage, saying that the stage was sticky due to years of cheap university beer. Ahhh, the (in)famous Mandela Hall sticky floor. I’d forgotten about it until he mentioned it. It wasn’t too bad where I was. You don’t think they’ve got round to finally cleaning it?

I wasn’t sure if I was an a Pop Concert or an Aerobics Class. Either way, it was brilliant.

Nevermind Aerobics Oz Style, this was Arobics OMD Style. I might pitch that to Sky Sports as a TV show idea.

If Joan Of Arc had a heart, it probably would have been racing from all the dancing.

Paul and Andy then had an onstage argument, sort of. It was staged as Paul, dripping of sweat, complained about standing under the lights, and that Andy’s job was a “Piece of cake”, so Andy invited him out to sing, which he did, performing Forever Live And Die.

While doing so, he was hit by a bra thrown from the crowd, but carried on like a pro, adding that the bra wasn’t his size.

Fans arriving were given a chance to vote for a song to appear on the setlist on a poll via the website, with a magic password for this at the venue.

The choices were The New Stone Age and Generic Engineering.

Genetic Engineering won with 75% of the vote.

Andy introduced this by saying that people had voted wisely, unlike a couple of Junes ago when they voted for Trump.

I think he’s got Brexit and Trump a bit confused there.

There were a lot of hits played – Messages, Locomotion, Souvenir, Tesla Girls, Joan Of Arc, Maid Of Orleans, So In Love, Forever Live And Die, Enola Gay and Sailing On The Seven Seas.

Not bad.

We also got to hear new song The Punishment Of Luxury, the excellent title track to their new album.

I would have loved it if they played If You Leave, If You Want It or Dreaming, but that is being greedy.

During the encore, they played the song that started it all for me, Walking On The Milky Way, with a slight change in arrangement.

They could just about fit four people on stage, they were hardly going to fit an orchestra as well.

As they left the stage, they said they won’t leave it so long before returning to Belfast. If they don’t return before 2043, we’ll be demanding answers.

In 2043, Andy McCluskey will be 84 years old. He’ll probably still be energetically dancing around on stage.

In the words of If You Leave, promise me, just one more night.

Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October began with a trip to The Oval, to see Linfield take on Glentoran, play awful but grind out a 2-1 win.

The following Saturday, I went to see Northern Ireland take on San Marino, the first game at a fully redeveloped Windsor Park.

I then went home, and got a bit of sleep, before an early morning boat to Dumfries to see Linfield take on Queen of the South in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

The following Saturday, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United.

Two days later, I was Limelight bound to see Feeder in concert.

There were then two frustrating weekends as I was then Coleraine bound the following Saturday to see Linfield held to a frustrating draw, just as they were at home to Crusaders the following Saturday.

The month ended by going to see KT Tunstall in concert at Mandela Hall.

Glentoran v Linfield

Northern Ireland v San Marino

Northern Ireland v San Marino Photo Album

Queen of the South v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

KT Tunstall live at Mandela Hall

KT Tunstall live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

KT TUNSTALL – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 30.10.2016

It’s great when a gamble pays off, and this was a gamble that paid off.

When KT Tunstall announced a tour for October, Belfast was a conspicuous absence from the schedule. That would be become clear in late June when she was announced to play Belsonic.

Great you think. Unfortunately, it was as support to The Corrs. Yep, i’d have to go to a Corrs concert if I wanted to see KT Tunstall.

I decided to take a gamble, having an idea of how Music PR works. I suspected that there would be a Belfast gig on the October/November tour, but that the announcement would be embargoed until after the Belsonic concert.

In fact, it was announced during that concert, by KT herself. The gamble had paid off.

I’ve been a fan of hers since her debut in 2005, when I saw her performing Black Horse And The Cherry Tree on Jools Holland. Around the same time, a work colleague was raving about her. She also introduced me to James Blunt, but don’t hold that against her.

Her concert in Dublin the following night, 31st October, was marketed as a Halloween Party.

Not to be left out, the Belfast concert would soon be marketed as a Halloween Party, but a bit short notice as not a lot of people were in fancy dress.

One member of the audience came dressed as Donald Trump, jokingly shouting “Make America great again” when she spotted him in the crowd, replying “i’m fucking trying”. She lives in America these days. More of that later.

She entered the stage to the sound of We Will Rock You by Queen, not because she was here to rock us, but because she was in fancy dress as Freddie Mercury.

If you need to know, it was the 1980s Mercury with the moustache. Nobody ever goes as long haired 1970s Freddie Mercury.

Of course, she had a moustache, announcing that she didn’t expect the tache to stay on her face for more than three songs. It didn’t even last one song.

She opened with If Only, then following it up with an anecdote about being backstage at a festival in America when a hairy man in a golf cart drove towards her, shouting “TUNSTALL!!!! FIRST SONG, SECOND ALBUM. IT ROCKS!!!!!”.

It was none other than Dave Grohl, accompanied by fellow Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins. That song, she then played, Little Favours.

It was one of many stories shared, the show bordering into stand-up at times. The music was almost feeling like a bonus at times.

She was claiming this as a hometown show as her dad is from Belfast, though she has never met him.

Tunstall is now living in America and spoke of the cultural differences, such as strangers talking to her and the standard response of “Fuck off” isn’t as acceptable in America as it is in Scotland.

She told of how she walked past an Irish Bar and a band was playing one of her songs, making eye contact with the guitarist to give her approval, and he didn’t recognise her.

As well as KT Mercury, her crew were in fancy dress. One dressed as a banana, one dressed as Lady Gaga wearing a ham dress and her drummer was dressed as a member of Devo.

One of her band claimed he was dressed as James Bay though he didn’t look anything like him, it was purely for him to take on the James Bay role when performing Two Way, a duet between them on her new album.

There were some treats for fans, including covers of Walk Like An Egyptian and Seven Nation Army, the latter being played with a kazoo.

There was a treat for two members of the audience called Stephen/Steven and Tracey/Tracy (covering all bases to avoid spelling their name wrong) who shouted to request a selfie with her and she obliged, even though she did say it would “open the floodgates”

Signing off with Suddenly I See, she told the audience “See you soon”.

We can only hope.

Photo Album

2015 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began on a musical theme with concerts taking up two of the first three evenings of the month, The Kooks at Mandela Hall and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at The Odyssey.

The following Saturday, it was back to football, as Linfield took on Warrenpoint Town at Windsor Park.

The Saturday after that was a road trip to see Linfield take on Institute at Drumahoe.

Some new Street Art appeared in Belfast during the month, a tribute to the recently deceased Leonard Nimoy and a reappearance of the Teenage Kicks mural

There was more Street Art later in the month, when I headed to Glasgow to see Northern Ireland take on Scotland in a friendly, and took advantage of a clear day and some art on show.

From Glasgow, to Glenavon (well, Lurgan) for another football trip the Saturday after. The same result, a 1-0 defeat, but a more damaging than the one in Glasgow.

The day after, more football, as Northern Ireland took on Finland in a European Championship Qualifier. Managed to get some photos of the redevelopment of Windsor Park, which seemed to be going so well at that point.

Little did I know then, It would be my last time in The Kop before it got demolished.

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey Photo Album 1

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey Photo Album 2

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Institute v Linfield

Spock’s Teenage Dreams

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow Street Art Photos

Scotland v Northern Ireland

Scotland v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Finland

Northern Ireland v Finland Photo Album

2015 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

The start of February usually sees me head away somewhere, and this year saw me head to Barcelona for a short break.

While there, I toured the city, did a tour of the Nou Camp, got lots of Street Art pictures and went to two football matches

Upon my return from Barcelona, it was straight into Irish League action, to see Linfield take on Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Four days later, I was headed to Stangmore Park, on my birthday, to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts, with Linfield giving me some birthday cheer by winning 3-0.

Three days later I was headed to Mandela Hall for the first time since 2011, for my first gig of 2015 – Echo and the Bunnymen.

A further three days after that, I was back at Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Portadown.

The final day of the month saw me see Linfield take on Portadown again, this time in the Irish Cup, and at Shamrock Park. It was the same result though.

Barcelona

Barcelona Photo Album

Nou Camp Photo Album

Barcelona Street Art

Barcelona Street Art Photo Album 1

Barcelona Street Art Photo Album 2

Barcelona Street Art Photo Album 3

CE Europa v Masnau

CE Europa v Masnau Photo Album

Espanyol v Valencia

Espanyol v Valencia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Mandela Hall

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Portadown

Portadown v Linfield

THE KOOKS – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 1.3.2015

It’s hard to believe it’s nine years since The Kooks burst onto the scene with hits such as Naive and She Moves In Her Own Way.

They’re back, and on tour, making a long awaited return to Belfast with a gig at Mandela Hall. In their own words, “It’s been a long time since we were last in Belfast”

She Moves In Her Own Way was the second song in. It was a statement of intent. They were going to play the hits, and they were going to play songs that made people dance.

Singer Luke Pritchard wasn’t slow in showing off his dancing skills on the night before his 30th birthday. He managed to keep his birthday secret from the crowd.

The most dancing was saved for their biggest hits such as Ooh La, Always Where I Need To Be, while new(ish) songs such as Is It Me? and Forgive and Forget fitted in to the tracklisting seamlessly.

The crowd even liked their ill fated attempt at Hip Hop, Down.

It wasn’t all dancing though, as Luke had a solo acoustic slot in the middle of the set.

For the encore, they played Shine On and Naive. Their performance was anything but naive.

Photo Album

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 17.2.2015

One song in, Ian McCullough, wearing sunglasses indoors and shouting at the sound guys to give them “less feedback and more bollocks”, it was what you would call Classic McCullough.

After a five year absence from Belfast, Echo and the Bunnymen made a return to the city on Tuesday night, for a gig at Mandela Hall.

This was my third Bunnymen gig, not bad for a band I thought i’d never see play live.

The first time I saw them was in May 2010 at Custom House Square. My most recent time seeing them was in April 2013, supporting James at SECC in Glasgow.

The current Bunnymen line-up, is the duo of Ian McCullough and Will Sergeant, Les Pattinson having left after their late 90s comeback and drummer Pete De Frietas dying in 1989.

They were supported by touring musicians, a guitarist and bassist stood to the left of McCullough, and a drummer and keyboardist buried behind amps. You might have been able to see them, but you could hear them.

Sergeant was stood to McCullough’s right and was in his happy place, stood on his own playing guitar, it looked as though he had a different guitar for each song, such was his collection.

The setlist was heavily drawn from their 1980s hits such as Rescue, Never Stop, Bring On The Dancing Horses, Bedbugs & Ballyhoo, Killing Moon and The Cutter. One of their hits, Seven Seas saw Ian McCullough mimic somebody swimming. That is quite a big deal for someone who doesn’t do many onstage theatrics.

Villier’s Terrace saw the crowd be treated to an inpromptu cover of Jean Genie by David Bowie.

It wasn’t the only cover they smuggled into their set included Take A Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed) which they amended to include Belfast and Merseyside references, Don’t Let Me Down (The Beatles) and Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

One cover that was on the setlist, intentionally, was People Are Strange (The Doors), which they recorded for the soundtrack of The Lost Boys.

After a Killing Moon/The Cutter finale, the band headed off stage, before returning for an encore, performing Nothing Lasts Forever (a curious title for a comeback single after a ten year absence) and Lips Like Sugar, to a rapturous applause.

The venue lighting didn’t immediately come on, giving fans hope for a second encore. They waited, and waited, and waited, before some men appeared on stage. They were roadies, dismantling the stage.

It was the only time all night the fans were disappointed.

Photo Album

See Also

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC 2013

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At SECC 2013 Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Custom House Square 2010

Echo and the Bunnymen Live At Custom House Square 2010 Photo Album

STLFTEM ROUND-UP 2011

Seeing as it’s the end of the year, almost, I thought I’d keep you all up to date with my STLFTEM for 2011.

For those who don’t know, STLFTEM is basically Something To Look Forward To Every Month.

I started it in 2009, and it basically is to have something to go, see or do every month, and look forward to it.

The only rules are that it has to be something seen in person. Therefore, watching Euro 2012 on TV won’t count for June next year.

Also, I can have more than one STLFTEM each month. In fact, I can have as many as I wish.

January was a bit of a cheat, as I went to the Linfield v Glentoran match postponed from 26th December 2010. But, my lifestyle ethos, my rules.

February was a bumper month as I went to Barcelona for a weekend, and then the following Wednesday, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Scotland.

March was also a Northern Ireland match. A 0-0 draw v Slovenia. Yep, that was well worth the wait.

April was a bumper month with a title showdown for Linfield against Crusaders and three matches against Glentoran, one of which was an Irish Cup Semi-Final. Not only that, but there was also the matter of Beady Eye’s first concert in Belfast.

Four wins, and an excellent concert made it a worthwhile month.

May was all about travelling as I went to the UEFA Cup Final, and Manchester United’s last match of the season, against Blackpool.

June was quiet, but I did go and see 3OH!3

July was also quiet, but Linfield playing in Europe and a pre-season friendly against Derriaghy were enjoyable. As I stated earlier, some months are a struggle.

August was busy with the start of the new Irish League season and trips to Edinburgh and Brighton.

September was the Arthur’s Day concert at Ulster Hall (Any my ticket was free)

October was another concert at Ulster Hall, Noah and the Whale. There were fantastic.

I’d hoped that November would be going to the MTV EMAs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a ticket, so I had to make do with a trip to Old Trafford to see United take on Sunderland.

December will be the Boxing Day match at The Oval. If that bites the dust because of the weather, I’ll make it the Ulster v Aironi match two weeks ago (Again, a free ticket)

Well, that is how i’ve managed to have STLFTEM throughout the year, but I’ve already got some lined up for 2012.

In January, I’m going to see Roy “Catchphrase” Walker as part of the Out To Lunch Festival.

February will be a busy month as I’ll be taking a break to Amsterdam from 3rd-6th, then going to see Noel Gallagher at The Odyssey on 16th, before flying to Manchester on 23rd.

I’m hoping to see United v Ajax. I’ve no ticket sorted as yet, but I’m confident I’ll get one.

Pretty tempted to go and see The Beat at The Limelight in March. Undecided as yet.

August of course, will see me head to Edinburgh for the Festival. If I could afford to, I’d spend the whole month there.

So that, is how I’ve managed to enjoy myself at least once a month this year and how I plan to do so next year.

If you have any suggestions for any of the months, feel free to get in touch and suggest.

2011 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Not a lot of football this month, but it was still a productive month of photography.

Went to see 3OH!3 at Mandela Hall. They were excellent, even if the photos were not of a similar quality.

Was also out during the month getting sunset pics, and I was pleased with the quality.

Highlight of the month, was an unveiling of a mural of John Peel in the Cathedral Quarter. It’s an excellent piece of art, well worth checking out.

It’s not in a place friendly to photographers, but I did manage to make the most of the situation.

3OH!3

3OH!3 Photo Album

John Peel Mural

Sunsets

Sunsets Photo Album