2016 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began for me with a trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United in the opening game of the Irish League season.

The following day, I ventured to Cupar Way to check out the Peace Wall in Belfast, something I do every six months to have a look at the Street Art.

After that, came a triple whammy if Irish League matches, taking in Linfield’s games against Coleraine, Crusaders and Glenavon.

That was then followed by a triple whammy of concerts – Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Belsonic, then Red Hot Chili Peppers at Vital.

The month ended with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Peace Wall

Belfast Peace Wall Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

Madness live at Titanic Belfast

Madness live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Catfish and the Bottlemen Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Titanic Belfast

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Boucher Road Playing Fields

Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Boucher Road Playing Fields Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

2016 IN PICTURES – JUNE

June 2016 was a month that was dominated by Euro 2016.

The early days of the month were spent chronicling a mural in East Belfast to commemorate Northern Ireland’s qualification, getting pictures of the final piece upon my return from France.

Oh yes, I was in France. Wasn’t that fussed about France as a country, but loved the three matches (France v Romania, Northern Ireland v Poland, Republic of Ireland v Sweden) I was at.

I also got some Street Art photos in Paris, and London, as I flew back from Gatwick due to there being no Paris-Belfast flights on a Tuesday.

Not a lot else happened in the rest of the month. That was, until, the final, when I attended two Belsonic concerts.

Belsonic? Yes, this year, it moved to June (though there were later concerts in August) and I went to see Elli Goulding and Stereophonics.

And it was at a new venue, Titanic Belfast.

There was even some domestic club football this month, as the last day of the month saw Linfield lose 1-0 at home to Cork City in the UEFA Cup.

Pride, Passion Belief

Pride, Passion, Belief Photo Album

Paris Street Art

Paris Street Art Photo Album

France v Romania

France v Romania Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Poland

Northern Ireland v Poland Photo Album

Republic of Ireland v Sweden

Republic of Ireland v Sweden Photo Album

London Street Art

London Street Art Photo Album

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Linfield v Cork City

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 23.8.2016

Nearly eighteen months after it began, Noel Gallagher’s tour to promote his second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, returned to Belfast, the city where it all began in March 2015, as the tour reaches it’s final stages.

It was Gallagher’s fourth solo gig in Belfast, following a nice symmetry of Odyssey, Belsonic, Odyssey, Belsonic, though it was a change of venue from 2012, at Titanic Belfast rather than Custom House Square.

Support came from Catfish and the Bottlemen, which sounds like the spellcheck version of Echo and the Bunnymen, but don’t let that put you off.

They are rather good, one of those bands who you know more songs than you realise, performing their catchy hits such as Pacifier, 7 and Cocoon, to a lot of dancing.

Some people even left when they finished their set. Their loss.

This gig came on the day that the current issue of Q hit the shelves, with it’s cover star being Liam Gallagher, saying he has new music recorded. He’s even been laying down the gauntlet on Twitter, before announcing that he will release a solo album in 2017.

Noel was here to let his music do the talking, appearing on stage and bursting straight into solo hits such as Everybody’s on the Run, Lock All the Doors, In the Heat of the Moment and Riverman before giving the crowd a bit of Oasis with Fade Away, performing in the style of the version that appeared on the War Child album.

With a back catalogue like his, it was always going to be a difficult balancing act between his solo career and Oasis hits.

The Oasis songs that were played were largely different from the recorded versions. Not just vocally, but musically. It was Oasis being reimagined, which is what Noel has done recently, remixing Be He Now for a 20th anniversary re-release, even though it will be ten and a half months before the actual anniversary.

There were no songs from Be Here Now, the album in Oasis back catalogue that was raided most was The Masterplan, with fans being treated to a forgotten Oasis classics, D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman? and Listen Up.

Amongst the Oasis classics performed by him was Live Forever. I say he performed it, he sang “Maybe ……” and the crowd did the rest, the song being performed acoustically.

Back to his own solo hits, performing the likes of The Death of You and Me, You Know We Can’t Go Back, Ballad of the Mighty I, The Mexican and If I Had a Gun.

The only downside about Noel Gallagher gigs in Belfast, is that they seem to attract some Weapons Grade Fuckwits.

You ever see the Kevin and Perry sketch where Perry thinks he’s Liam Gallagher, starts talking in a Manchester accent and draws a beard with marker?

That was basically a lot of people in the audience.

Some guy near me managed to piss himself just after his mate got chucked out for trying to storm the the stage.

What next for Noel Gallagher? Who knows. It could be a while before Belfast sees him in the flesh, but we will get to see him in cinematic form with the release of an Oasis documentary film Supersonic in October.

This gig was my fourth Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds gig, compared to five Oasis gigs, meaning that the next time I see Noel Gallagher in action will equal that.

Or maybe, it will be a sixth Oasis gig? That’ll be unlikely considering that Liam will be busy throughout 2017.

I’m not going to get my hopes up. We all know what happens when you put your life in the hands of a rock n roll band.

Photo Album

Catfish and the Bottlemen Photo Album

See Also

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey 2015

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at Custom House Square 2012

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey 2012

MADNESS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 20.8.2016

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been a Summer of Madness in Northern Ireland. Normally when you hear such a description, you’re expecting non stop riots. This is a good Madness, and Northern Ireland Madheads had three opportunities to indulge in their favourite band this summer.

In July, the musical Our House had a run at Grand Opera House, while Belsonic offered fans the chance to experience the real thing.

It was the second time that Madness had headlined Belsonic, having appeared at Custom House Square in 2012. Like in 2016, a few days later they were followed by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

There is a tenuous link between Madness and Noel Gallagher, as it was an inebriated Madness (who had just come off stage after performing) who replaced Oasis at short notice in 2009 at the French music festival where a backstage spat resulted in Oasis split.

Madness are always a popular booking at festivals, having done the afternoon legends slot at Glastonbury. Quite impressive for a band in their 50s, as most who get that slot are at an advanced age people watching on TV had thought they were dead.

Madness aren’t dead, but they are down a member, with Chas Smash leaving in 2014.

That loss is evident in the opening song, as he would traditionally kick off a Madness gig with his intro to One Step Beyond, their signature tune. One of many, you could say.

It was Madness first gig in Belfast since December 2014. They have been touring a lot since then. A tour in the summer of 2015 of small to medium sized stadiums missed Belfast, making the delays of the Windsor Park redevelopment even worse. There was Ravenhill as well they could have used.

Madness have been gigging in Belfast since 1979, playing in what Suggs described as “What was left of” The Europa Hotel.

They entered the stage to House Of Fun, before Suggs apologised to those in the audience who were expecting to see Westlife’s comeback tour, before advising those in the audience on medication or of a nervous disposition to look away as Lee Thompson did a saxophone solo during their debut single The Prince, a song which Suggs introduce by pretending he was presenting Top Of The Pops, describing them as “A bunch of hermits from North London”.

Something threw a bra at Lee Thompson. Not the first time that’s happened in Belfast either.

Naturally, there was a lot of dad dancing. Most of it in the crowd. If you can’t be silly at a Madness gig, when can you be silly?

My Girl was performed as a slow ballad, with Suggs over dramatically pretending to cry, before the song was performed as the way we all know and love it.

As is now tradition, we were treated to a Chris Foreman, billed as the best guitarist in Madness, karaoke set. He said he had taken requests from people, and had to disappoint them, that he would continue his karaoke.

Foreman recalled a walk around Belfast earlier that day when he asked what the name of the boat parked at the docks was. When told it was Bryan, he replied “like Bryan Ferry?”

The boat parked could be seen from the stage. It was a night boat to Scotland, rather than going to Cairo.

Fans were treated to Foreman singing his own version of Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.

When performing The Sun and the Rain, the weather obliged. Sort of. We got rain, but no sun.

It was a hit filled show, One Step Beyond was snuck in mid show, alongside Embarrassment, Wings Of A Dove, Shut Up, Our House and It Must Be Love, while Madness and Night Boat To Cairo were performed in the encore.

It typical Madness fashion, it was utterly unpredictable.

Suggs will be in Northern Ireland next Saturday, heading to Bangor to talk about his career as part of Open House Festival.

If their live shows follow the current pattern (Madness last three Belfast gigs have been 2012, 2014 and now 2016) we can expect to see them back in 2018.

Can’t wait.

Photo Album

See Also

Madness live at The Odyssey 2014

Madness live at The Odyssey 2014 Photo Album

Madness live at Custom House Square 2012

Madness live at Custom House Square 2012 Photo Album

STEREOPHONICS – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 29.6.2016

Stereophonics arrived in Belfast recently to headline Belsonic for a third time. They weren’t quite the first act to do that, both Biffy Clyro and David Guetta had beaten them to that by a matter of days.

Support came from The Vaccines, a band who i’ve been a fan of for a long time but had never seen live, so getting two bands for the price of one was very welcome.

Their set full of energy and madness, everything i’d expected from The Vaccines. That’s not a pun by the way. If you didn’t already know, their debut album is called What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?

Fans were treated to hits such as If You Wanna, Wrecking Bar, Post Break-Up Sex, Dream Lover and Teenage Icon.

It’s always difficult for a support act when they’re not playing to “their crowd”, but The Vaccines had no problem winning the crowd over.

I would seriously consider going to see them if they did one of their own gigs in Belfast. In fact, i’m really regretting not going to see them when they played The Limelight last December.

Stereophonics appeared on stage 15 minutes earlier than the advertised start time, which took a lot of people by surprise. They have a lot of hits to go through, so they have to make every second count.

Hits was what the people got, which kept them happy despite getting drenched for period during the gig.

Kelly Jones made no mention of the Wales v Northern Ireland score the previous Saturday, which was very gracious.

If Northern Ireland had won, it would have been a cert that the crowd would have given them loads of abuse over it.

The only downside was the volume of fagbreaths. No matter where I stood, I was surrounded by them. Seriously Belfast, you’ve got a serious problem when you can’t even enjoy a concert because of people like you.

Hopefully next year, they’ll dig a hole somewhere at the back for them and leave the rest of us to enjoy the gig.

The new venue itself was very spacious, providing an obvious advantage, but also a disadvantage in terms of a slight loss of atmosphere.

As with the previous night, getting out of the venue was easy enough, the only downside was being effective blocked in The Odyssey Car Park by taxi drivers parking on the double yellow line outside it, meaning drivers leaving the car park had to go across two lanes instead of one just to get out.

Bravo, well done. No, seriously.

Fans lucky enough to be there were treated to hits such as Local Boy In The Photograph, A Thousand Trees, Superman, Have A Nice Day, The Bartender And The Thief, and Dakota, as well as more recent favourites such as Indian Summer and I Wanna Get Lost With You

A new song i’d never heard before was Sunny, from Keep The Village Alive, which I liked, even allowing for Kelly Jones doing a Spinal Tap-esque guitar solo.

This gig wrapped up the June session of Belsonic, another one is being lined-up in August.

I’ve already got tickets for Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

A new line-up announcement today has left me with a moral dilemma, as KT Tunstall has been announced as support for The Corrs.

Now, I like KT Tunstall a lot, and I did find it a bit odd there was no Belfast gig when her October/November tour was announced earlier this week. I didn’t even factor in Belsonic.

As said, I like KT Tunstall, but i’m not that fussed on The Corrs. Should I buy a ticket and just leave after KT? I do still have a Ticketmaster voucher from my birthday.

Decisions, decisions.

Photo Album

See Also

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2015

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2015 Photo Album

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey November 2013

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey November 2013 Photo Album

Stereophonics live at Waterfront Hall March 2013

Stereophonics live at Waterfront Hall March 2013

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2010

Stereophonics live at Custom House Square August 2010 Photo Album

ELLIE GOULDING – LIVE AT TITANIC BELFAST (BELSONIC) 28.6.2016

It’s fair to say that Ellie Goulding is no stranger to Northern Ireland since releasing her debut album in 2010, playing a varying range of venues – Spring and Airbrake, Ulster Hall, Ward Park, Waterfront Hall, The Odyssey, Boucher Road Playing Fields.

On Tuesday night, she added Titanic Belfast to the list, headlining as part of the Belsonic festival, on the penultimate night of the June series of the concerts.

I gave a miss to her last two Belfast concerts. I couldn’t be bothered with paying for a Calvin Harris ticket when I wanted to see Ellie Goulding, and I gave her last Odyssey gig as miss as it was part of the Halcyon Tour that I had seen her perform on the previous year.

I’ve seen her twice before, in 2010 and 2013. Adding 2016 to the list, it looks like it’s a triennial event for me, but it just happens that way.

Support for this gig came in the shape of Walking On Cars and The Coronas. I actually missed Walking On Cars, which was a pity as i’d heard some of their songs and liked them, despite their annoying marketing technique of advertising what seems like every five minutes on XFM.

The Coronas were on the Belsonic bill, as support, just as they were for Stereophonics last year. Like last year, they were decent. Also like last year, they announced mid set they would be performing at Ulster Hall in December.

Ellie Goulding is now at the stage of her career where she can do a Greatest Hits set, and that’s what people were expecting. What they weren’t expecting was a technical fault in the first song when an LED screen (should it not be an Ellie-D screen) failed, showing up the Windows start page.

The crowd cheered. Classic Belfast, never slow in cheering when things go monumentally wrong.

Ellie played on, while the screen got fixed in the background.

The playlist was a bit skewed. She isn’t a Dance artist but she does music you can dance to. One minute people would be dancing, then she would play a slow song, which killed the mood. People were here to dance.

If you wanted to hear her biggest hits, you weren’t to be disappointed, as you would have got to hear Something In The Way You Move, Goodness Gracious, Outside, Figure 8, Lights, Burn, I Need Your Love, Anything Could Happen and Love Me Like You Do.

It was my first Belsonic at their new venue, having moved to Titanic Quarter from Custom House Square, where the festival had taken place since it’s inception in 2008.

I was unsure about the move, but I was prepared to give it a chance. I did my evening cycle a week before there just to do a dry run to see what the venue is like.

It was on the day of the Germany v Northern Ireland match in Euro 2016, so I was going past as people were leaving the Fanzone that was showing the match.

I have to admit I was worried this would be an utter shambles, as massive queues formed to pay for car parking at The Odyssey, due to there not being the option of giving money to Odyssey staff at the Exit Gate, like when there is a concert on at The Odyssey.

That’s why I liked Custom House Square. I was able to park for free opposite the Fire Station on Ormeau Avenue and just walk down.

I parked at The Odyssey for this and it wasn’t too bad getting out. The queues for paying were relatively small and the car park wasn’t that full, which I found a bit surprising, albeit pleasantly surprising.

It’s far too early to say if the move has been a good thing or a bad thing, there are both positive and negative aspects, but it’s good to see that my initial fears weren’t realised.

The show itself was decent, but I do feel that her live show is better suited to an indoor venue.

By my law of seeing Ellie Goulding, I won’t see her again until 2019. Where? I don’t know. She never seems to play the same Belfast venue twice.

Photo Album

See Also

Ellie Goulding Live At Waterfront Hall April 2013

Ellie Goulding Live At Waterfront Hall April 2013 Photo Album

Ellie Goulding Live At Ulster Hall November 2010

Ellie Goulding Live At Ulster Hall November 2010 Photo Album