This year marks ten years since the first Belsonic. In those ten years, it has expanded, moved venue, changed month and then changed venue again.
When it started, it was mid August in Custom House Square. Now it is mid June in Ormeau Park.
Walking towards the venue, there were boardings put up to cut off the venue for the concert from the rest of the park. It looked rather drab. I couldn’t help but think that a mural featuring those acts who have performed at Belsonic over the past decade would have brightened up the venue.
Due to the wide nature of acts peforming, it is impossible for someone to be a fan of every act. Just the one Belsonic concert for me this year, as Richard Ashcroft would be to support Liam Gallagher, just as he did the previous night at Malahide Castle in Dublin.
The two of them will already be used to each other, having toured North America together in May.
For Richard Ashcroft, it would be a long awaited return to Belfast. The most recent gig as a solo artist (The Verve did play The Odyssey) that I am aware of is him supporting Coldplay at The Odyssey in 2005.
Upon arrival in Belfast, Ashcroft went exploring the city. I was hoping he might re-enact the Bittersweet Symphony video in the City Centre, just to send out a message to the slow walkers and footpath blockers.
He didn’t venture too far from Ormeau Park, heading to 16 Burren Way in Cregagh. If you don’t know, that’s the childhood home of George Best, and boasted to the crowd that he did a few keepy-uppies outside it.
As he entered the stage, he dedicated his performance to George Best, even having a mannequin with the Northern Ireland shirt as a stage prop, the shirt printing of ASHCROFT 11 being clear for all to see.
I’ve been a fan of Richard Ashcroft for a long time, especially loving Urban Hymns by The Verve and his debut solo album Alone With Everybody.
Disappointingly, none of the big singles from his debut solo album were played, such as Song For The Lovers, I Get My Beat, Money To Burn and C’mon People.
Ashcroft was delayed getting on stage by about fifteen minutes. Thankfully, due to the delays in getting in.
Security searches getting in were segregated by gender. The breakdown of the crowd was overwhelmingly male. It was obvious this would be the case.
However, staffing did not reflect this. While men were made to wait in slow moving queues, women were able to get in quicker.
If you were a woman or part of a group of women attending with a man or group of men, you were having to loiter about and wait for your friend(s) to get through.
Surely, getting info from sales from Ticketmaster could have helped them prepare better.
The same complaint would apply if it was an act appearing who would attract a majority female audience at their concerts.
Going through security, I had a bar of chocolate confiscated. Yes, really.
Cigarettes and vapes are fine, but a bar of chocolate is not allowed. What sort of fucked-up society are we living in?
There were times when you could barely breathe due to the fumes, but apparently someone having a bar of chocolate is more of a health and safety concern?
The Eventsec goon who confiscated my chocolate didn’t look when chucking it in a bag, and it hit the top of the bag and didn’t go in. I took back what was mine when he was searching people after me. Up yours Eventsec.
As hinted, this was another outdoor event in Belfast infested with fucking tramps that can’t go a few hours without a smoke. Literally surrounded by them.
Am I the only person who sees this?
As a society, we seem to just scratch our arses when it comes to the matter.
I know I keep mentioning it, but i’m going to keep mentioning it until it gets tackled and addressed.
Belfast City Council could take the lead on the matter and make smoke free venues a clause when granting licences for events.
If the Organisers can instruct Eventsec to confiscate chocolate from people, they can get Eventsec to confiscate cigarettes and vapes. Put it on the posters and tickets so everybody knows.
If somebody complains, fuck em, They can fuck off and go elsewhere. Society is moving on, and we don’t need tramps like that infesting outdoor events.
The important thing is, nobody was able to bring any chocolate into the venue.
Back to Ashcroft, and unsurprisingly, we was belting out a lot of The Verve’s hits – Sonnet (shamefully low chart position) and Lucky Man, which he dedicated to Kate, who I presume is Kate Radley from Spiritualized, his wife.
The Drugs Don’t Work, The Verve’s only Number 1, is a bloody awful song. He performed it, but solo acoustically, and it wasn’t that bad, to be fair.
Ashcroft, then went into a Yer Da type rant about how music was better in the old days, while revealing that he doesn’t do “Banter” with the crowd because he can’t hear them due to an earpiece.
He was pumped up, throwing his microphone down during one song, and by the end of the show, having half of his shirt unbuttoned, and pulling a muscleman pose similar to Mario Balotelli when he scored against Germany in Euro 2012.
We also got some solo hits, such as the fantastic Break The Night With Colour, before he ended on Bittersweet Symphony, before announcing that he will be returning to Belfast before the end of the year, but left us all in suspense by not saying where or when.
Looking forward to it.