2016 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2016 began with an eventful trip to Lurgan to see Linfield recover from being both two goals and two men down against Glenavon to secure an unlikely draw.

It was followed by a busy week. I was out on the road again to see Linfield take on Ballymena, before heading to The Odyssey to see Bastille in concert.

Two days later, I was at Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Azerbaijan, before heading back on the road to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

I then headed to near the Royal Mail’s office to photograph a new mural of various popculture icons such as David Bowie, Christopher Walken, Kes and Adam Ant.

The following midweek, I was back at Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Croatia in a friendly, before heading back to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

November ended with a weekend in Manchester, going to see United take on Feyenoord and West Ham, see Bury take on Millwall via Broadhurst Park, as well as capturing Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays, and some stickers left by Feyenoord fans around the city.

Those trips to Old Trafford were my first since Jose Mourinho became United manager.

Glenavon v Linfield

Ballymena United v Linfield

Bastille live at The Odyssey

Bastille live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Down By The Royal Mail II

Down By The Royal Mail II Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Croatia

Northern Ireland v Croatia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Feyenoord

Manchester United v Feyenoord Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Feyenoord Stickers

Feyenoord Stickers Photo Album

Bury v Millwall

Bury v Millwall Photo Album

Broadhurst Park

Manchester United v West Ham United

Manchester United v West Ham United Photo Album

Advertisements

2016 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April 2016 began for me at The Odyssey to see Muse in concert.

The following Saturday, I headed for Seaview to see Linfield lose to Crusaders, a match that killed off their title hopes.

Another concert soon followed, this time it was to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at Ulster Hall.

Back to football, and a double whammy of convincing Linfield wins, over Coleraine and Glentoran.

The match against Coleraine allowed me to check out the facilities in the South Stand for the first time since it was officially opened.

Towards the end of the month, Prince died, and Belfast wasn’t slow in paying tribute, a mural appearing within a day of his death.

I then headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Around that time, I purchased a new camera as my camera was broken beyond repair. I was still getting used to it, so that’s why some photos towards the end of the month are a bit different.

Muse live at The Odyssey

Muse live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

Purple Rain

Purple Rain Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

BASTILLE – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 9.11.2016

Regular visitors to Belfast, Bastille dropped by on their biggest tour to date to perform at The Odyssey.

It’s been a gradual climb for the band, as singer Dan Smith reference during the show. Their first Belfast gig was at The Oh Yeah Centre, then Mandela Hall, then Ulster Hall, supporting The Killers at Tennent’s Vital, headlining Belsonic, and then this gig at The Odyssey.

My own Bastille history is varied. I faffed about too much in 2013 and missed out on getting a ticket for their Ulster Hall. The following year, I saw them supporting The Killers at Tennent’s Vital. When they performed at Belsonic last year I was away, so missed out on them.

That Belsonic concert last year, they were still touring their debut album Bad Blood. This time around, they were performing songs from their second album Wild World, a grandiose concept album projecting images of media overlords.

The band get their name because singer Dan Smith was born on Bastille Day. Imagine if he was born two days earlier, it would have been a laugh to see a band called King Billy’s White Horse doing a gig in Belfast.

Support came from Rationale. I’d seen them on Jools Holland a few weeks ago. They were decent. Chilled out songs you can dance to. There was also a band called Keywest (You probably had to do a double take there because you thought I wrote Kanye West) who were also decent, even though their songs were more toetappers than dancers.

Eventually, Bastille appeared on stage, jumping straight into new single Send Them Off, which was not a reference to the events at Mourneview Park the previous Saturday, with it’s distinctive brass riff and groove getting everyone dancing before performing on of the big hits from their debut album, Laura Palmer.

As the world continued to digest Donald Trump’s election victory in America, Dan Smith urged the crowd to “forget about certain people for one night”

Smith was everywhere during the show, walking through the crowd, walking along the seated area, singing from the mixing desk area, even singing from the balcony of a corporate area during the encore.

Naturally, each of these occasions saw eager fans desperate from their idol.

All the big hits were on the setlist, Things We Lost In The Fire, Bad Blod, Of The Night, Good Grief, with the crowd being sent home with Pompeii.

On social media afterwards, the band tweeted visiting the Game Of Thrones throne, a random trend amongst bands who visit Belfast. It appears that nobody can come to Belfast to do a concert without posting a photo on social media with Bastille joining Jimmy Eat World and KT Tunstall in this trend.

There were some new gigs announced this week which tempt me, mostly of a Scottish theme.

Simple Minds are touring, with KT Tunstall supporting them in Mainland Europe. Fingers crossed for a Belfast gig with that line-up.

Meanwhile, Primal Scream are headlining Bundoran Sea Sessions (no date for their gig yet) which might tempt me to do a Innishowen Cycling/Finn Harps/Sligo Rovers/Primal Scream weekend.

Live at the Marquee in Cork announced it’s first headliners this week – Elton John, Cliff Richard and Nathan Carter. I know, underwhelming. Might leave it until 2018 before I visit Cork again.

Photo Album

Bastille live at Boucher Road Playing Fields

Bastille live at Boucher Road Playing Fields Photo Album

MUSE – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 6.4.2016

I’ve always loved Muse, going back to their debut album and the single Muscle Museum, which managed to rhyme “Toilet” and “Spoil It” and have enjoyed how big they’ve become over the following 16 years. Finally, I got to see them in concert.

I had hoped it would be last year, when Matt Bellamy teased a surprise concert on Twitter, before an Ulster Hall concert was announced at four days notice. Sadly, it sold out before I was able to get a ticket.

Ulster Hall is a bit of a downgrade for Muse, they’ve been Odyssey sized for a while, playing there in 2006 but not since.

As well as being the city that kicked off the Drones tour in March 2015, Belfast holds a special place for Matt Bellamy as his mum was born there.

Eventually, they appeared on stage, jumping straight into Psycho.

Like with most Muse songs it had thunderous drums and piercing guitars.

Naturally, there was guitar solos and over the top ridiculousness aplenty. Muse have never shied away from that or taken themselves too seriously to care how they look.

Such is the ridiculousness, you could make band names from song and album titles such as Supermassive Black Hole, Knights Of Cydonia, Neutron Star collision, or Origin Of Symmetry.

You can’t have Madness as they pre-dated the Muse song by 33 years.

The stage was mostly in the round, with multiple mic stands for Matt Bellamy to use as he pleased, as well as a catwalk at both ends for him to walk along.

Bellamy was either right beside you or at the other end of the arena. There was enough of him to go about, as he regularly changed ends between songs.

The bit of the stage that was in the round even spun around when the band were performing on it.

Chris Wolstenholme wasn’t afraid to join in the ridiculousness, having a glow in the dark Bass and changing them between songs, having one in White, Blue, Red and Green.

Muse are at the stage where they could wheel out a Greatest Hits set, bashing them out one after each other. Those who were there for hits weren’t to be disappointed with Uprising, Resistance, Plug In Baby, Dead Inside, Madness, Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole and Undisclosed Desires all on the setlist, with Mercy and Knights of Cydonia performed during the encore.

The biggest reaction came during Starlight with fans clapping along to the drumbeat and singing the piano bit during the intro.

Fans were treated to large balloons filled with confetti being dropped from the sky, as well as ticker tape covering the arena later in the show,

I would have loved to have seen two of my personal favourites, Panic Station and Neutron Star Collision performed, but it was still a strong setlist.

During the show, Matt Bellamy said “We haven’t played this building for ten years, it won’t be so long until the next time”

As the band left the stage, the concert ending with a guitar solo v drum solo shoot-out between Matt Bellamy and Dom Howard, drummer Dom Howard said they won’t leave it ten years before their next Belfast show.

Belfast folk will be holding Muse to that promise between now and 2026, just as we’re constantly reminding Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi of those Belfast gigs they’ve promised.

Photo Album

2015 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November took a while to get going, my first adventure being on the 7th, to see Linfield take on Crusaders. I would be spending a lot of time at Windsor Park in the opening fortnight of the month.

Windsor Park is where I would be based in the opening two weekends of the month, taking in Northern Ireland’s friendly against Latvia, then Linfield’s match against Cliftonville the next day.

The following midweek was all about music, as Paul Weller and U2 came to Belfast.

The busy month continued when I took in my annual Ulster European game, a defeat to Saracens.

The final two Saturdays of the month saw me on the road, to see Linfield lose in Mid-Ulster against Glenavon and Portadown.

Sandwiched inbetween that, was a trip to Manchester to see United take on PSV Eindhoven, where I also took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Crusaders

Northern Ireland v Latvia

Northern Ireland v Latvia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall Photo Album

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Ulster v Saracens

Ulster v Saracens Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Manchester Street Art November 2015

Manchester Street Art November 2015 Photo Album

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

2015 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September began for me on the road to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, and get a 1-0 win on a lovely sunny day.

From the road to Fermanagh to the road to France. My next football match came two days later when I saw Northern Ireland take on Hungary in a Euro 2016 Qualifier, knowing that a win sound them to France.

They didn’t get the win they wanted, but a late draw kept them on course to qualify.

Inbetween those two football matches was some graffiti spotting around Belfast.

Two days after that, I was at The Odyssey, now renamed The SSE Arena, to see Florence and the Machine perform the first concert at the newly renovated venue.

Back to Irish League action the following Saturday, a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders, the less said about, the better.

The following Friday, was the highlight of the year in Belfast, Culture Night, and I was out with my camera snapping the action.

I recovered from Culture Night in time the following day to head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint.

The following day, I undertook a post Culture Night tradition by checking out the newly painted Street Art on North Street and the surrounding areas.

The final weekend of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield edge past Glenavon 4-3.

Like the previous weekend, I headed to North Street to get a look at the Street Art painted for Culture Night, as some pieces were still being worked on when I went down the previous week.

I also headed to City Quays Walk for the first time, to see some Street Art that had been painted there.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Street Art

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Culture Night

Culture Night Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

North Street Art Part 2

North Street Art Photo Album Volume 2

City Quays Walk Street Art

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

U2 – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 18.11.2015

U2, Harp Lager Band Of 1978, made a long awaited return to Belfast last week with two gigs at The Odyssey. It had been a while since their last gig in Belfast. So long in fact, that The Odyssey didn’t even exist. 1997 to be precise.

For their last indoor gig in Belfast, you have to go back a further ten years, to 1987 at King’s Hall. Before that, they used to be regulars in Belfast during their early days.

On their current tour, they have downsized, having to make do with large arenas rather than large stadiums. This gave hope to an Odyssey gig, with gigs at similar venues in London (The O2) and Glasgow (The Hydro) being announced earlier this year.

Hopes were raised in early September when The Edge hinted at a Belfast gig. Within days, two Belfast gigs were announced, with a further four in Dublin.

My older brother loves U2, and I caught the bug, to the extent that I was prepared to get up at 7am on a Sunday morning to record a whole day of programming on MTV dedicated to U2. There was no Sky+ in them days. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t know how to set the Video Plus, so I had to get up and do it myself.

I even won a copy of The Best Of 1980-1990 in a newspaper competition by correctly answering what Bono’s real name is. It’s Paul Hewson, since you ask.

There have been two occasions when I have been close to U2. When they played Botanic Gardens in 1997, I was close enough to hear them. In 2002, I was invited to a TV recording at Blackstaff Studios. I was tipped off that a famous Irish band would be peforming. I was told it was U2. It was Westlife.

As I counted down the days to this Odyssey gig, I still had a dark fear that Westlife would be turning up on stage instead.

When arriving at the venue, there were little subtle U2 references. When trying to find a parking space, I was trying to fight the temptation to mutter to myself that I still hadn’t found what i’m looking for. Inside the venue, there were billboards for Clayton Hotel. It’s unknown if Adam was staying there during their time in Belfast.

Getting into the venue was a bit of a farce, with admission by credit card rather than paper ticket holding up people getting in, as well as seperate queues not being signposted.

Now in the venue, I took up position near the very end of the stage, on the line that marked off the area of the floor where Bono would be entering. Fans observed the security staff, on the theory that the busier they got, the closer it was to stage time.

At around half eight, the area was sealed off and surrounded by security. Bono casually walked across the floor onto the stage, and kicked into The Miracle Of Joey Ramone, the velvet rope was now removed, and a pile on to get the best position at the stage took place.

The best view of the venue was at the side of the stage. Unfortunately, those spaces were long taken by the time I arrived just after seven.

Adam Clayton paid his own homage to Belfast by wearing a Stiff Little Fingers t-shirt.

They began by playing songs from their early years, with Bono remarking “You have to visit the past if you don’t want to be stuck there”

The crowd sang along with more recent hit Vertigo, even when Bono sang in erroneous Spanish (The intro goes Uno, Does, Tres, Catorce – or 1, 2, 3, 14) that he refuses to change.

The band then performed Sunday Bloody Sunday and Raised By Wolves. The riot that Jim Rodgers had feared never materialised.

Larry Mullan would soon be inundated with offers to join Orange Bands by looking at home walking along while banging a Fife Drum.

Bono even managed to give a brief rendition of Moondance by Van Morrison while also recalling about how he wrote a song to impress a girl called Alison Stewart, and how he hasn’t quite managed it. For those who don’t know, she’s his wife.

They then performed some songs from the Achtung Baby era while inside a cage behind the LED screen. It didn’t work for me.

Bono then pulled a member of the audience, Teresa from Italy, to dance with him, like Bruce Springsteen in the Dancing In The Dark video.

As we entered the second half of the concert it was time for the big hits – With Or Without You, Where The Streets Have No Name, Elevation, City Of Blinding Lights, Beautiful Day, Pride (In The Name Of Love)

We were even treated to a guitar led version of The Sweetest Thing. The concert ended with One, that Bono dedicated to all those who have helped to make it close to being the first generation of babies born without AIDS. In 1992, when One was released as a single, the proceeds were donated to AIDS charities.

The only surprise was that they didn’t play Stay (Faraway So Close) purely for the cheer when Belfast mentioned in the lyrics. In truth, they didn’t need to engineer fake cheers.

After eighteen years away, there would only be one more day to wait until their next Belfast gig.

Hopefully, after that, it won’t be eighteen years until they return.

Photo Album

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 9.9.2015

It was a night of new beginnings in Belfast, for both artist and venue, as Florence and the Machine kicked off her How Big How Blue How Beautiful Tour by becoming the first music act to perform at the newly revamped Odyssey Arena, or SSE Arena, as it’s now known.

There are now digital TV screens at the entrance and a VIP bar in the concourse. I was standing, so I didn’t get a chance to see what the new seats were like.

One major negative was having to queue for five minutes in order to get a wristband to walk the long way round to go to the toilet. Instead of having security hand out wristbands (not sure why they are needed in the first place), could they not just give them to people to put on themselves?

This gig was Florence’s first of the tour, though she has been performing at festivals throughout the summer, most notably, headlining Glastonbury as a late replacement for Foo Fighters, when Dave Grohl was incapacitated by a broken leg after jumping into the crowd.

It is an occupational hazard that Florence is well aware of, having been in plaster for the early part of this year after a similar mishap.

This gig was mishap free, well, until she accidentally knocked a speaker over a security guard during Dog Days. Thankfully, the security guard didn’t appear to be hurt.

Her band, one by one, walked on stage, but no Florence, she waited and built the tension. Big and dramatic is what she does. Throughout the night, you could the thunderous rhythm of the drums in each song, sounding more intense live than they do on record.

She later told the crowd that she had planned on having a choir on stage with her, but the stage wasn’t big enough.

She began by performing What The Water Gave Me and Ship To Wreck. Quite apt theme given The Odyssey’s close proximity to Belfast’s shipyards.

Florence is no stranger to Belfast, but was last here performing at Tennent’s Vital in 2012, as well as previous appearances at Belsonic in 2010 and an Ulster Hall gig in 2009.

She arrived in Belfast straight from Electric Picnic in Loais and had spent a few days in the city, and had spent the night before in a “Traditional Music Pub”, which turned out to be Kelly’s Cellars.

Florence is either everywhere or nowhere, she disappears for a while, and then just comes back. At the moment, she is everywhere.

As her current rate of albums is one every three years. She might not be in Belfast again until 2018. Florence, and the crowd, were determined to make the most of each other’s company.

She was everywhere on the stage, running about from side to side of the stage, and dancing. I say dancing, it was mainly jumping up and down and pirouetting.

Inbetween songs, Florence stated that she was on her own musical Odyssey, nicely linking to her adding that she is now playing The Odyssey.

It’s seven years since her first hit Kiss With A Fist (which wasn’t played), and she is now at the stage where she has had “a lot of hits”

All the biggies were there – Ship To Wreck, Shake It Up (my own personal favourite), Rabbit Heart, You Got The Love, Spectrum, Dog Days, Drumming Song, What Kind Of Man.

It was a night when everybody in The Odyssey was at some point singing, dancing or clapping along. At some point, doing all three.

There were a few objects thrown from the crowd. Nothing unsavoury, just a bra. Someone also made a flag for Florence, which she accepted and waved on stage. Must be a first for Belfast to see a flag universally cheered.

It’s fair to say, that Florence and her machine, were fully functional. Belfast looks forward to seeing her again in 2018. Or earlier, if she fancies.

Photo Album

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – LIVE AT THE ODYSSEY 3.3.2015

The day after the release of his second solo album. Noel Gallagher was in Belfast to kick-off a mammoth year of touring with a gig at The Odyssey.

Noel Gallagher has a bit of history when it comes to Belfast and album releases. In 2002, Oasis performed at The Odyssey on the night before Heathen Chemistry was released. That Odyssey gig, and this Odyssey gig’s attendance doesn’t even come close to the 75,214 (at last count) who claim to have been at The Limelight for an Oasis gig on the night Definitely Maybe went to Number 1.

Now onto his second album, Gallagher now has more than enough solo material without the need to dip into the Oasis back catalogue.

Music journalists have been quick to declare 2015 as the year of Oasis comeback. Noel Gallagher’s touring schedule this year would make it certain that’s not happening. We got confirmation during the gig after a bunch of “Concert Craicsters” (Every big gig in Belfast has these insufferable idiots) who seem to think it’s their own personal gig and that they can engage in “Banter” with the band, started singing “LIAM!!! LIAM!!!” and were prompty met with a one finger salute.

So that’s that put to bed, for the time being.

After a two and a half (and a bit) wait after his last gig, at Belsonic in 2012, Noel Gallagher was back in Belfast, backed by a choir this time, starting with some songs from his solo debut, before playing an Oasis song, Fade Away, the slower version that appears on 1995’s War Child album, before playing In The Heat Of The Moment, Lock All The Doors and Riverman, from his new album Chasing Yesterday.

Despite having only been release the previous day, the crowd had already known all the words.

As well as a choir backing him, Gallagher had the Belfast crowd for support when performing Champagne Supernove, adding that he might just ask the crowd to sing it for him at all his future gigs.

There were some Oasis songs, but not a lot. Thankfully, the three best songs from Chasing Yesterday – In The Heat Of The Moment, The Ballad Of The Mighty I and You Know We Can’t Go Back – were all played.

He left the stage, and came back for an encore, unlike at his last Belfast gig.

The encore included and acoustic version of Don’t Look Back In Anger, with vocal backing from the crowd, AKA …. What A Life and The Masterplan.

Photo Album 1

Photo Album 2

See Also

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At Custom House Square August 2012

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At Custom House Square August 2012 Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey February 2012

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey February 2012 Photo Album