GEORGE EZRA – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 26.5.2017

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I was at The Limelight on Friday night to see George Ezra in concert. The thing is, it’s supposed to be a secret.

Billed as the Top Secret Tour, it was anything but. Announced at a few weeks notice, taking in Northern Ireland (there was a gig in Derry the following night. Ezra had previously been to Derry in 2014 as part of Other Voices Festival), Republic of Ireland (gigs in Dublin and Limerick followed his brief stay in Northern Ireland), before moving on to Wales and then South-West England.

To use a football analogy, these were the music equivalent of pre-season friendlies, as Ezra aims to fine-tune himself and get match fitness (or should that not be gig fitness?) ahead of a busy summer of festivals.

However, a gig at The Limelight is in no way comparable to a kickabout against Dunmurry Rec. A Limelight crowd demands to be entertained.

Ezra is no stranger to The Limelight, having played there in October 2014.

Back then, his debut album Wanted On Voyage was enjoying it’s second week at Number One in the UK Album Chart, having eventually climbed there just over three months after it’s release.

Now, he is at another milestone in his career as he arrived in Belfast, getting ready to release his currently untitled second album, and Belfast was going to get a preview of this new material

Entering the stage at 9.30pm, I was home from his last Belfast gig by that point, he was held up by a band member not being ready, before jumping into Cassy O, one of the singles from Wanted On Voyage.

After that, he played a new song. Unfortunately, I was unable to get titles of the new songs.

Ezra then mentioned about travelling to Barcelona. The crowd cheered because they were anticipating him to play Barcelona. Well, not quite.

His debut album Wanted On Voyage was written while travelling around Europe, inspiring song titles such as Budapest and Barcelona.

This inspired one Internet Prankster to run a story that Ezra was planning to do a whole album about cities beginning with B.

The reason why Ezra was talking about Barcelona, was that he went back there to get inspiration for his second album, and found somewhere to stay using Airbnb, but chose the option of living with someone instead of having a flat to himself.

Eventually, he did play Barcelona.

He announced that this was his first gig in eighteen months, and had spent most of 2016 writing and recording, admitting that 2016 was the first year in his life that he felt scared and anxious by what was going on in the world, and that he felt like he was running away from it all.

Ezra said that the setlist will be a mixture of old and new material. Naturally, all artists have old and new songs. An artist on their second album doesn’t even have a mid point in their career.

One of the highlights of the new songs was one called (Something …..) Happy People. I didn’t get what the first word in the title was. It was nothing like the REM (with Kate Pierson on uncredited vocals) song that the title almost sounds like, but it’s still good.

A lot of the new songs had a Bluesey, Americanised sound, songs you can sing and clap along to, which most of the crowd did, before finishing with Budapest during the encore.

Ezra commented that he had to go to Belfast to get a tan, with this gig coming on the warmest day of the year, before commenting that he will be back soon.

Belfast may not be able to guarantee sunshine for his return, but it looks likely if he does return, it will be in a bigger venue than The Limelight.

Photo Album

George Ezra Live At The Limelight October 2014

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 8.3.2017

In life, people’s paths briefly cross before they head in different directions. That happened in February last year when Blossoms (not to be confused with the 90s TV show starring her from The Big Bang Theory) played a gig at The Limelight.

Since that gig, they’ve went on to have endless success. The band who supported them that night, Viola Beach, died the week afterwards in a vehicular accident in Sweden. Blossoms have paid numerous tributes to them throughout that year.

That gig at The Limelight was originally supposed to be in Voodoo, but was moved to The Limelight due to demand. This was six months before the release of their debut album.

Even at this point, the band were no strangers to Belfast, having already supported Paul Weller at Waterfront Hall on his Winter 2015 tour, a concert that I attended. I remember being excited by this news, thinking to myself “That’s the band that does that song Charlemagne that I love”.

In the early months of 2015, they also supported The Charlatans on their UK Tour. Both bands will be supporting The Courteeners at their massive headline gig at Old Trafford in Manchester this summer. The cricket ground, by the way.

And just recently, they’ve been announced as support for The Kooks when they tour Mainland Europe in May.

It isn’t all supporting slots, they’ve even got their own massive headline gig at Castlefield Bowl in July as part of Sounds Of The City, Manchester’s version of Belsonic. Mancsonic, if you will.

Over the last few years, they’ve been bigged up by Tim Burgess on Twitter. They’ve also been bigged up by this blog, making regular appearances on The Friday Five and Charlemagne being declared The Song Of 2015.

As mentioned earlier, Blossoms have had a lot of success over the past twelve months. Take your pick. An NME cover, Number 1 album, an appearance on the New Year’s Eve edition of Top Of The Pops, and a Brit Award nomination.

This week, you may have seen them on The Premier League Show on BBC 2.

This gig would be a brief stop off in Northern Ireland, before three Republic Of Ireland gigs in Galway, Limerick and Dublin. A hand warm-up for their NME tour later this month.

This was my first gig of 2017. I’d hoped it would have been The Pigeon Detectives at HMV last Friday night. It was advertised as an instore gig, but they just showed up, signed a few autographs and then left.

Support for this gig came from a band from Derry called Touts. They were pure Derry every time they opened their mouths. Or rather, they were Peeeyuuurrreee Deeeee-errrrry hai everytime they opened their mouths.

Their singer was a massive Wellend. He probably gets drunk on Football Special.

Fronted by a Wellend from Derry, it was no surprise they were heavily influence by The Jam and The Undertones, with also a nod to The Strypes. If that’s your thing, you’ll probably enjoy these guys.

They clarified that, despite the name, they’re not actually touts. The only informing they’ll do to The Police will be to inform them that they think Sting is a cunt. Probably.

The band appeared on stage, jumping straight into At Most A Kiss before playing favourites from their debut album such as Getaway, Blown Rose and Honey Sweet.

The most obvious observation is that Josh Dewhurst looks like Dimitar Berbatov and Tom Ogden looks like Steve McManaman, but with longer hair. In both cases. Once it is seen, it cannot be unseen.

It’s hard to describe the music of Blossoms. It’s a little bit Disco, a little bit Synth Pop and a little bit Indie, fusing all three to perfection, even managing to do an instrumental cover of Gimme Gimme Gimme by ABBA.

Further covers appeared when Tom Ogden (That’s a proper Greater Manchester name that. Probably related to Hilda) did a solo acoustic session, performing excerps from You’re Georgeous by Babybird and Half The World Away by Oasis.

Before this, Ogden appealed to the crowd for someone who had just been dumped. There were a lot of responses. Eventually, the winning member of the audience was a woman called Orla (Awwwwwww, poor Orla) who had been dumped. Twice (Awwww, poor Orla).

The most recent was by someone called Ryan, who got roundly booed. If you’re reading Ryan, BOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

The encore include Charlemagne, the winner of Best Song Of 2015, still sounding good in 2017.

Leaving the stage, the band stated they hoped to see Belfast again soon. Knowing the way the music industry works, hopefully a Belsonic announcement is being embargoed until the Irish tour is over.

There’s still a long way to go to match the success of fellow Stockportonians 10CC. To paraphrase one of 10CCs biggest hits, Belfast didn’t like Blossoms. They loved them.

Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …..)

December began for me with a trip to The Limelight, a venue I would be spending a bit of time at this month, to see Primal Scream in concert.

Two Days later, I was headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield get a routine win over Carrick Rangers.

I then headed out into Belfast to get some photos of a mural of Jack Nicholson

That night, I headed back to The Limelight to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following weekend, I was Bangor bound to see Linfield take on Ards, and then back to The Limelight (I know, becoming a regular) to see Cast in concert.

The morning after that, I was out on my bike to get some Street Art photos, in Great Victoria Street and a mural of Prince in Botanic.

On the middle Saturday in December, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield record a late win over Ballymena United.

The weekend before Christmas saw me being busy, taking in Ulster v Connacht for my annual Rugby match, and then the following morning heading to Seaview to see Linfield Swifts win the Steel and Sons Cup.

There’s still a bit of the month left. Two big Linfield matches, against Glentoran and Crusaders. I’m also hoping to get a chance to head to Lisburn to get some Street Art photos.

And then, that will be me for 2016. Don’t worry, there’ll be Camera Adverntures in 2017.

Primal Scream live at The Limelight

Primal Scream live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Jack

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight

Ocean Colour Scene live at The Limelight Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Great Victoria Street Art

Great Victoria Street Art Photo Album

Prince Mural

Prince Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

Ulster v Connacht

Ulster v Connacht Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield Swifts

Dundela v Linfield Swifts 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

CAST – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 10.12.2016

It might seem like The Limelight is hosting a month long 90s revival festival, as I headed there for the third time in just over a week, this time to see Cast, just over a year since they were last in Belfast, also at The Limelight, in October 2015.

Unsurprisingly, it was a hits heavy set, it’s easy to forget that they had ten Top 20 singles between 1995 and 1999.

The highlight for me was Finetime, which sounds as good live as it does on record. One of my favorite songs ever, not just amongst Cast songs.

Their hits during their chart heyday were always catchy, with the crowd being able to recognise and sing along within seconds of the band starting to play.

It’s wasn’t all old stuff, there were some new songs as well, as the band have a new album out in February called Kicking Up The Dust, with the title track being played as well as Birdcage and Roar. Birdcage was the highlight of the new songs played.

John Power took the time to tell the crowd about his walk around Belfast earlier that day, that all he could see was people wearing Christmas Jumpers, hitting home for him that Christmas is approaching.

As the band played their final song, John Power said “See you soon” and walked off the stage. Each band member left individually leaving drummer Keith O’Neill the last one on stage, entertaining them with a drum solo.

If Cast split up again, he could always go on a solo tour.

Then, followed confusion, as the fans awaited what the expect an encore. It soon became apparant there was going to be no encore, which prompted boos from a section of the crowd.

Belfast is a city of poets and thinkers with a unique grasp of the English language, and a gentleman beside me eloquently summed up his thoughts when he shouted at the empty stage “THAT’S FUCKING SHITE ………. SO IT IS”

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise decent gig.

Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight October 2015

Cast live at The Limelight October 2015 Photo Album

OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 4.12.2016

Ocean Colour Scene made a long awaited return to Belfast, their first gig in the city since March 2010, to perform their breakthrough album Moseley Shoals in it’s entirety to commemorate the 20th anniversary of it’s release.

I know, i’ve done the maths, recaulculated it and checked my working out, but 1996 was 20 years ago. I’m as shocked as you are.

Album Anniversary Tours is a practice i’m not really a fan of, I think it’s a bit of a nonsense. I like going to gigs and not knowing what is going to be played, hoping to hear my favourite songs and even being disappointed if the band doesn’t play a song I want them to play. It’s a bit boring if you know what is going to be played and in what order.

However, knowing that I would be guaranteed to hear The Riverboat Song, The Day We Caught The Train and The Circle made it worth the admission fee.

There was no support act, just a unseen DJ blasting out 90s Hits, to get the crowd in the mood, as the band entered the stage playing a cover of Daytripper by The Beatles, before moving onto the songs from Moseley Shoals, the opening track being The Riverboat Song, with it’s distinctive guitar riff.

The crowd knew every word, Simon Fowler even taking a step back to let them sing one of the verses.

There was a notable absence on stage in the shape of Oscar Harrison, who was suffering from back problems. He missed their recent Spanish shows, and it was anticipated that the Belfast gig would be his comeback.

Unfortunately, it was too soon for him,

It wasn’t the first time he’s had to miss a Belfast gig due to a back injury. I’m going to bore you with an anecdote about the time I met 50% of Ocean Colour Scene and 20% of Oasis.

In late 2001, I was working part-time in a bar in Belfast City Centre. One Wednesday night, I walked past a man who looked like Damon Minchella from Ocean Colour Scene and thought nothing of it. Then, I saw Steve Craddock, and it turned out it actually was Steve and Damon from Ocean Colour Scene.

They had just come from Blackstaff Studios where they had filmed a performance for The John Daly Show. Simon wasn’t there and neither was Oscar. He was replaced by Alan White from Oasis. I met him, Steve and Damon and was chatting to them.

Obviously I end up disappointing people when I tell them that i’ve met somebody from Oasis and it turns out not to be a Gallagher.

Simon told the crowd that Oscar said hi.

He wasn’t the only member of the band who has missed giggs through illness, as Ray Meade, now Bassist as Damon Minchella has since left the band, missed some gigs due to a Collapsed Lung, and this was his comeback.

Having had the spotlights put on the crowd, Simon told the crowd they are beautiful, before adding that they were not as beautiful as the Spanish, with the band having come to Belfast after gigs in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Tony Coote was the Drummer filling in for Oscar, described by Simon as a “Genius” due to learning the setlist inside 45 minutes, though there was one song where Steve Craddock was made hand gestures at him to indicate how he should be holding the drum sticks.

Surprisingly, as a former journalist, Simon Fowler let slip a bit of an exclusive by revealing that Boy George had recorded a duet for Paul Weller’s new album, before then sheepishly and apologetically looking to his bandmate Steve Craddock for letting the info slip.

For those who don’t know, Steve Craddock divides his time between Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller’s backing band, so he would obviously be a good source of information for Paul Weller related news.

There were a few ringers on the set list, including some hits from their follow up album Marchin Already, such as Better Day and Hundred Mile High City.

Better Day is a forgotten classic and my favourite OCS song, so I especially enjoyed getting to hear this live.

We even got treated to Profit In Peaces, as in, it was actually on the setlist and not an impromptu performance like at their last Belfast gig, because a fight had broken out in the middle of the floor while they were performing another song.

The only downside was the sheer volume of smelly tramps in the venue, constantly having to hold my nose to avoid breathing in vapes. Someone needs to tell these cunts that it’s not a competition to see how much and how far you can puff out.

It’s bad enough these cunts ruining outdoor concerts for everyone, now they are determined to ruin indoor concerts for everyone now.

I couldn’t help wonder if Better Day and Hundred Mile High City were a teaser for a 20th anniversary tour for Marchin Already, which was released in 1997.

Though this is Belfast, and with a title like that, there would probably be a resident’s group to protest it.

Just don’t leave it nearly seven years before returning.

Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010

Ocean Colour Scene live at Mandela Hall 2010 Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square 2007 Photo Album

PRIMAL SCREAM – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 1.12.2016

Never have I demanded a band entertain me as much as when Primal Scream brought some Chaosmosis to The Limelight, having been loaded (no pun intended) with the cold and should probably have stayed in the house, but having paid for a ticket, it would have been a waste not to go.

One definite plus point was the early stage time, advertised as 8.15pm but closer to 8.20pm. The last time they played The Limelight, they went on stage at about 8.30pm, catching a lot of people out.

They opened with a heavy guitar version of Moving On Up in comparison with the recorded version in what was an unsuprisingly hits heavy setlist.

There were new songs on the setlist with singles from new album Chaosmosis such as 100% Or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Feeling Like A Demon Again already being popular live songs and standing up against their classics.

It was hard to make out Bobby Gillespie when he spoke between songs, the only thing I could make out was that they made an album in Tennessee in the early 90s.

Gillespie spent most of the gig high fiving the front rows, prompting the smelliest woman in history to spend a few minutes climbing over me to try and get a high five which never came.

One of the highlights of any Primal Scream gig is Loaded, and the introduction which people instantly know what it is when they hear the words “Just what is it that you want?”

The answer, was to get down in Belfast Town apparantly, with Country Girl being changed to Belfast Girl. A cynical attempt to curry favour with the crowd, not that they needed to resort to such tactics.

As the band left the stage, I managed to be in the lucky position of cleanly catching a playlist that was thrown into the crowd. Somebody offered me 75p for it on my way out.

There’s no immediate Northern Ireland gig on the horizon for Primal Scream but there is a headline slot at Bundoran Sea Sessions in Donegal next summer.

Very very tempting.

Photo Album

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013

Primal Scream live at The Limelight October 2013 Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

February began for me seeing Linfield beating Dungannon Swifts 6-0, a good start to the month.

The following weekend, I was on the road to Shamrock Park, to see Linfield lose 2-1.

Back on the road the following weekend, this time to Coleraine, with a better result, with Linfield coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

The next day, I made the most of a free ticket to see Ulster take on Scarlets. Unfortunately, the game ended up in an agonising one point defeat for Ulster.

Two days after that I headed to The Limelight to see Foxes in concert.

The month ended with me heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Glenavon, a match that saw an outfield player go in goal and save a penalty.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Portadown v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield

Ulster v Scarlets

Ulster v Scarlets Photo Album

Foxes live at The Limelight

Foxes live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

FEEDER – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 17.10.2016

After a break. Feeder are back, and currently riding high in the Top Ten of the Album Chart and recently did a gig at Old Trafford, albeit as entertainment during Rugby League’s Super League Final.

From Old Trafford to The Limelight, not quite 76,000 were packed into the South Belfast venue, but it didn’t matter to those that were there.

Long time fan, i’ve never seen Feeder play live. The closest I ever came was in 2014 when Grant Nicholas played a instore gig at HMV in Cardiff ……… the day after I went home from Cardiff after a few days there.

And when I say long time fan, I mean long time fan, going back to the days when they were the darlings of the Melody Maker.

I know this because I recently picked up some late era Melody Makers on the cheap, which are going to be appearing on The Magazine Archive at some point in the future. Apologies for the plug. 1999-2000 era Melody Maker is a headmelter.

Grant Nicholas, now sporting long hair and a beard which makes him dangerously close to passing as a Barry Gibb lookalike, was reminiscing about his previous visits to Belfast, describing it as a city that loves Guitar Bands, preaching his love of The Limelight, while remembering that Feeder’s first gig in Belfast was attended by 20 people.

Nicholas did a lot of talking inbetween songs, which was convenient if you wanted to quickly check the Liverpool v Man United score. I don’t know why, even by the Twitter commentary it looked like a match destined to finish 0-0.

Something that Feeder managed to do during their heyday was to combine heavy riffs with slow building anthems, and they managed to mix them up enough to keep people happy, fitting Feeling A Moment, Pushing The Senses, Lost and Found, High, Tender, Come Back Around and Just The Way I’m Feeling onto the setlist, saving Just A Day for the encore.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest cheers were saved for Buck Rogers, starting off as a slow ballad before morphing into the song we all know and love.

Photo Album

FOXES – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 23.2.2016

It’s a great time to be a fox, with Leicester City top of the Premier League, and their musical namesake Foxes having just released her second album All I Need, hoping to emulate her footballing namesakes by getting to number one.

It had only been fourteen months since her last Belfast concert, in December 2014 (also at The Limelight), so this was a relatively quick return to the city, but she was determined to make up for last time, launching straight into Body Talk, the lead single of her second album.

The last time she was in Belfast, she did a lot of gliding. No gliding this time, but a lot of jumping and dancing. To be fair, there were a lot of songs you can jump and dance to. This was the first night of a tour, so there’ll be a bit of dancing and jumping over the next few weeks.

It wasn’t all jumping and dancing, there were even some slower ballads. It didn’t really matter, she was comfortable in either role, effortlessly changing tempo between songs.

She’s had quite a few hits, and they were all on the setlist – Youth (which she said was one of the first songs she ever wrote), Holding On To Heaven, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, before signing off with Let Go For Tonight.

Photo Album

Foxes Live At The Limelight December 2014

Foxes Live At The Limelight December 2014 Photo Album