HILL STREET WALL OF FAME

If you’ve been in the Cathedral Quarter over the past month, chances are you’ve seen Glen Molloy hard at work on a new mural beside The Harp Bar, covering building work taking place at what is/was (sorry for not being up to date with Civil Service locations) NIEA offices in Hill Street.

It began for me with a social media post that there was a new mural of David Holmes in Hill Street. So, armed with my camera, I went to investigate.

I was busy doing other stuff and actually forgot to check out the main thing I was in Belfast City Centre for.

So, I came back later, saw a mural of David Holmes, and other works which were works in progress. Naturally, I got snapping.

There was a clear theme of music legends developing, so I went back every lunchtime and evening to snap the work that was in progress.

There was a brief stop in the work here as Glen Molloy was working elsewhere on a mural at Filthy McNasty. You can see a write-up of that here

Gradually, the wall was getting filled. Frustratingly, I missed photographing a key day in the painting of Van Morrison and Bap Kennedy due to biblical rain.

It wan’t the first mural of Morrison to appear in Belfast. There was one near the away entrance to The Oval in 2007, but that soon disappeared due to housing being build on that site.

The faces appearing on the mural are : David Holmes, Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Una Healy, Van Morrison, Bap Kennedy, Brian Kennedy, Fatboy Slim.

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ASH – LIVE AT THE EMPIRE 20.12.2015

For my last gig of 2015, it was back to the first band I ever saw in concert, Ash, back in 1998, and also in 1999. It was a New Year’s Eve gig you see.

I’ve also seen them do instore gigs at HMV since, but this my first time seeing them live properly since that night for the Ash Christmas Party, or as singer Time Wheeler put it, The Ash Christmas Bash

Ash returned this year with Kablammo!, their first album since 2007 – the highlights of which are the singles Cocoon and Machinery, which were both played.

Naturally, as it was a Christmas Party, the set was heavy on hits, all the big ones were performed – A Life Less Ordinary, Goldfinger, Oh Yeah, Shining Light, Burn Baby Burn and Girl From Mars.

Fans were also treated to a cover of Teenage Kicks, as well as some Christmas songs.

Just another gig you may think, but there were still a lot of moments that you had to be there for.

One such moment was treating the crowd to their version of Cantina Theme from Star Wars, with Tim Wheeler, almost apologetically, telling the crowd that if they didn’t know what the song was, it meant that they weren’t a nerd, before revealing that Mark Hamilton had already watched the new movie three times.

To clarify, I had to look up on Google what the song was. Genuinely.

Both Tim and Mark also had spells in the crowd. Tim jumped in and crowdsurfed so far, it looked like he was going to finish the song in the lobby of Crescent Townhouse Hotel across the road.

Mark’s spell in the crowd came later, though he didn’t venture as far and didn’t crowdsurf, just played his bass.

It wasn’t the first time he went walkabout, briefly disappearing at the start of the encore, with Tim Wheeler commenting that they were going to be like The White Stripes.

There was a great irony of people in the front being blinded by the spotlights just as Shining Light was about to start.

It had been a hectic year for Ash in terms of touring (supporting Foo Fighters at Slane being a notable highlight), with Tim Wheeler commenting that they had been travelling all over the world since their last Belfast gig, at The Limelight in May. It was actually June. I suppose if you’re touring that much, it’s easy to lose track of dates.

There was a guest appearance during the encore, Nathan Connolly of Snow Patrol joined them, with Tim Wheeler quizzing him about possible new Snow Patrol material in 2016 before sheepishly grinning. Though it is an open secret that there will be new Snow Patrol material next year.

As for Ash, Wheeler revealed that their plans for 2016 hope to include a Belfast gig.

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