OMD – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 23.10.2019

“This first song was from 1980, and this last song was from 2017” said Andy McCluskey two songs in, before adding “And the rest will be from inbetween”, stating the obvious, considering that it was a 40th Anniversary Greatest Hits Tour.

1991, then 2009 (supporting Simple Minds), then 2017, and now 2019. Thankfully, the gap between their appearances in Belfast seem to be getting shorter. In fact it was one day short of two years since they were last in Belfast, at Mandela Hall.

It was back in 1996, when channel hopping and coming across the video for Walking On The Milky Way on VH1 (Because all the cool kids watch VH1), I always remembered how such a great song it was.

Then I knew Enola Gay. I liked two songs.

Then a few years later, I couldn’t sleep, and was watching some 80s videos on one of the music channels, and they played Souvenir.

So that was three songs I now knew and liked.

Later, when I joined the Music Library at Belfast Central Library, one of the first albums I took out was the 1998 compilation album The OMD Singles, and found I quite liked them.

It was a long wait for them to come to Belfast, though thankfully not long for them to return.

Pishing down with rain when I walked to the venue, I soon discovered there were no Cloakroom facilities at the venue, so I faced a choice.

The raincoat I was wearing came from Decathlon, and is more for sailing, Sailing On The Seven Seas, you could say. It is absolutely roasting and the venue was roasting. Do I continue to wear it and be roasted squared?

Or do I tie it around my waist and look like a dick?

If you care, I went for the looking like a dick option.

The heat was referenced by McCluskey during the set, asking who had been at Mandela Hall in 2017, and commenting that it was just as hot.

Pointless fact about Andy McCluskey. His real name is George but he prefers to be called Andrew. That must have been really awkward if he was ever hanging out with Wham.

I’m not really a fan of Ulster Hall, but I saw Chvrches there earlier this year and it was fantastic, so it might not be dreadful for this genre of music.

As in 2017, McCluskey was taking Dad Dancing to a new level, and I’ve seen Tim Booth and James Dean Bradfield dance. The key, he said, was to dance like nobody is watching.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he holds Dancercise classes at Birkenhead Community Centre on a Tueaday night. He was working up such a sweat, that his black shirt was an even darker shade of black.

He even managed to display a sense of humour, telling people not to nip off to the toilet during a new song as it was actually quite good. When introducing a song he described it as a new song, before adding “From 1991”.

Just as people were expecting Sailing On The Seven Seas, opening up a Pandora’s Box by playing, um, Pandora’s Box.

Most of the big hits played usually resulted in hand clapping and fist pumping from the audience.

Hits such as Tesla Girls, getting a Yes Yes Yes from the audience as soon as the synthesised “No No No” intro was heard.

Other hits included Enola Gay, Sailing On The Seven Seas, Electricity, Messages, Joan Of Arc, Maid Of Orleans, Locomotion and So In Love.

Paul Humphries was even allowed out to sing Forever Live And Die, thankfully not being hit in the face by a bra thrown from the crowd as he was in 2017. Andy said he was jealous of the applause he got from the crowd, allowing him to sing another song, Souvenir.

The only downside was that my three favourite OMD songs, Walking On The Milky Way and If You Leave weren’t played, but I can live with that, considering how many of their big hits.

As they left the stage, Paul Humphries said “See you soon”.

You could read that as a quick return to Belfast to meet up with A-Ha next week, who they toured with in 2018.

Or maybe not, though that would be nice. Whenever it is, i’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Photo Album

OMD live at Mandela Hall 2017

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 24.10.2019

1. Dermot Kennedy – Outnumbered
2. Tiny Magnetic Pets – Echoes
3. OMD – Walking On The Milky Way
4. Two Door Cinema Club – Talk
5. The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend

THE SOUND OF 2017 : 26-50

26. Beth Ditto – Fire
27. Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times
28. Blondie – Long Time
29. Pale Waves – There’s A Honey
30. Foo Fighters – Run
31. OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury
32. Shed Seven – Room In My House
33. Liam Gallagher – Chinatown
34. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Holy Mountain
35. Jake Shears – Creep City
36. Dagny – Wearing Nothing
37. Rory Lavelle – Sonny
38. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Keep On Reaching
39. The XX – I Dare You
40. Stereophonics – Caught By The Wind
41. George Ezra – Don’t Matter Now
42. Haim – Want You Back
43. Robert Plant and the Sensational Shapeshifters – New World
44. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Black And White Sunshine
45. Tom Grennan – Found What I’ve Been Looking For
46. The Chainsmokers – Paris
47. Rory Lavelle – Poor Pride
48. Amy MacDonald – Dream On
49. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Fort Knox
50. The Charlatans – Plastic Machinery

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

THE SOUND OF 2017 : 76-100

It’s that time of year folks where I count down the best songs of the year. It’s a bit later than usual, but it will be worth the wait.

I’ll spare you the usual crap about how it was a great year for music and all that. There were some good songs and some bad songs, so I spent a Sunday afternoon trying to put the good songs in an order.

Here’s the first batch. Enjoy

76. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – I Gotta Praise
77. Rose Elinor Dougall – Hell and Back
78. Shed Seven – It’s Not Easy
79. Benjamin Clementine – Jupiter
80. OMD – Isotype
81. Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On
82. The Amazons – Black Magic
83. Tove Lo – Being Boring
84. Metallica – Don’t Look Back In Anger
85. Miley Cyrus – Malibu
86. Joy Williams – Ordinary World
87. Matt Maltese – As The World Caves In
88. The Killers ft Paul McCartney – Helter Skelter
89. Rag n Bone Man – Reach Out I’ll Be There
90. Gorillaz – We Got The Power
91. Kasabian – Ill Ray
92. Paul Weller – Woo Se Mama
93. Donald Trump ft Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
94. Barry Manilow – New York State Of Mind
95. Maggie Rogers – Alaska
96. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Living In The City
97. Shed Zeppelin – Good Times, Bad Times, Disco Down
98. Blossoms – In Da Club/Careless Whisper
99. Imelda May – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
100. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Interlude (Wednesday Part 1)

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

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 27.10.2017

1. Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending
2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Fort Knox
3. OMD – Dreaming
4. Liam Gallagher – For What It’s Worth
5. Tiny Magnetic Pets – Girl In A White Dress

It seems that Belsonic announcements get earlier and earlier. There’s one this morning. It’ll probably be some shite DJ. If it is someone I like, i’ll probably end up begrudgingly going.

It’s become a joyless experience in recent years being surrounded by shitfaced 15 year old and spending the whole night having to hold your nose and cover your mouth due to a plague of smelly tramps who can go a few hours without a fag or a vape.

I remember when Belsonic used to be good.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 2.6.2017

1. Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass
2. The Courteeners – Don’t Look Back In Anger
3. Maggie Rogers – Alaska
4. OMD – Isotype
5. Ray Davies – Broken

In gig news, Erasure have announced a tour for early 2018 with no Belfast gig. Boooo. I’m pining my hopes on Belfast Pride saving the day. Come on, be the heroes we need. DISCLAIMER – I have no inside information, i’m just letting my imagination run wild. What’s the point in having an imagination if you can’t let it run wild?

Liam Gallagher’s first solo show on Tuesday night sounded rather good. I know this, because it seemed like everyone was broadcasting it onto social media via their phone. A reminder that not all heroes wear capes.

I’m not saying I have a favourite Gallagher brother, but Noel does Belfast gigs when he goes on tour.

Hopefully, a full tour will follow when the album is released towards the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Top Of The Pops juggernaut on BBC Four has reached 1984. The Story Of 1984 is on tonight at 9pm.

So, to celebrate, here’s a 1984 chart for you.

FIVE SONGS FROM 1984

1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
2. Wham! – Freedom
3. Duran Duran – Wild Boys
4. Depeche Mode – Master and Servant
5. Strawberry Sitchblade – Since Yesterday

Ryan Adams update. Still looking for a ticket for his Ulster Hall gig in September. Standing, Face Value.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 19.5.2017

1. Matt Maltese – As The World Caves In
2. Naviband – Story Of My Life
3. Royal Blood – Lights Out
4. Audioslave – Like A Stone
5. Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On

It’s been an interesting week for concert announcements in Belfast, with four, yes FOUR bands I like all announcing concerts – The Divine Comedy, Ocean Colour Scene, The Charlatans and OMD. The first three I have seen previously in the last two years.

To celebrate this, i’m going to do a Top Five for each of them

FIVE SONGS BY THE DIVINE COMEDY

1. The Pop Singer’s Fear Of The Pollen Count
2. National Express
3. Something For The Weekend
4. Generation Sex
5. Love What you Do

FIVE SONGS BY OCEAN COLOUR SCENE

1. Better Day
2. The Circle
3. The Riverboat Song
4. July
5. The Day We Caught The Train

FIVE SONGS BY THE CHARLATANS

1. Love Is The Key
2. Blackened Blue Eyes
3. North Country Boy
4. My Beautiful Friend
5. One To Another

FIVE SONGS BY ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVERES IN THE DARK

1. Walking On The Milky Way
2. If You Want It
3. If You Leave
4. Enola Gay
5. Dreaming

Ryan Adams update. Guess what? Still looking for a Standing ticket to see him at Ulster Hall in September.