2018 IN PICTURES – MAY

May 2018 began for me by chasing Street Art, getting photos of Murals at Bankmore Square and Bank Square.

That was then followed by a trip to The Odyssey to see Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

The following weekend, I headed to Manchester to see United take on Watford, as well as getting some Street Art photos, both in the City Centre (mostly, Northern Quarter) and then Pomona Wharf.

On the Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of the month, I headed to Titanic Slipways for BBC’s Biggest Weekend where I saw Manic Street Preachers, Beck, Ash and Franz Ferdinand.

The end of the month was dominated by Street Art, going to check out Street Art on Bruce Street, and attending Wardrobe Jam.

Bankmore Square Street Art

Bankmore Square Street Art Photo Album

Bank Square Street Art

Bank Square Street Art Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live at The Odyssey

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Watford

Manchester United v Watford Photo Album

Manic Street Preachers live at Titanic Slipways

Manic Street Preachers live at Titanic Slipways Photo Album

Beck live at Titanic Slipways

Beck live at Titanic Slipways Photo Album

Ash live at Titanic Slipways

Ash live at Titanic Slipways Photo Album

Franz Ferdinand live at Titanic Slipways

Franz Ferdinand live at Titanic Slipways Photo Album

Bruce Street Art

Bruce Street Art Photo Album

Wardrobe Jam

Wardrobe Jam Photo Album

FRANZ FERDINAND – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

It had been a while, but Franz Ferdinand were back in Belfast, performing at Biggest Weekend at Titanic Slipways.

I had seen Franz Ferdinand before. It was a while ago, back in 2005 at Tennent’s Vital in Botanic Gardens along side Scissor Sisters.

Frustratingly, their short-lived but superb supergroup with Sparks, FFS, were playing Edinburgh when I was there in August 2015, but I was unable to see them. I went to see Aisling Bea instead.

The band entered the stage with Alex Kapranos wearing a suit with trainers. It would soon become apparent why.

Franz Ferdinand have a sound and they don’t deviate from it. It’s a great sound, that’s why.

They do guitar music you can dance to, or is it dance music you can play guitar to?

Either way, the crowd, myself included, was toetapping along as they performed their biggest hits.

Alex Kapranos was doing more than toetapping, doing all sorts of dancing, pirouetting, and even managing a few Peter Schmeichel-esque starjumps while playing guitar.

If anyone from Strictly was watching, sign him up.

They began with Always Ascending, the title track from their current album, before following it up with No You Girls.

Then followed Matinee, one of the two major hits from their debut album that made me fall in love with them back in 2004.

Back then, we was on BBC 2 telling Terry Wogan how he made.

Sadly, of course, Terry Wogan isn’t on BBC 2, or any channel these days, so the lyrics were changed to simply say “So i’m on BBC 2, telling Terry how i’ve made it”.

It could be Terry Christian?

That was then followed by Do You Want To?, the lead single from their second album You Could Have Had It So Much Better, which spawned other fantastic singles such as The Fallen and Eleanor Put your Boots On.

Saving the best, they finished on Take Me Out (like a few couples have. No likey, no lighty)

And that, was my Biggest Weekend over. I didn’t bother hanging around for Underworld.I was already danced out anyway.

Photo Album

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ASH – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 26.5.2018

For me, it would be Ash who would be kicking off the second day of Biggest Weekend, as I headed back to Titanic Slipways to see them on the Saturday.

I could get used to afternoon concerts.

With a scheduled stage time of 4.10pm, i’d be heading over earlier than I did the previous day. Of the Saturday line-up, Ash and Franz Ferdinand were the acts I wanted to see the most.

For some, it would be the second time of the weekend they would be seeing Ash, as they did an instore appearance at HMV on the Friday teatime.

I wasn’t at that as I was heading to Biggest Weekend. I’m sure there were others in the same situation. I know we were getting to see them anyway, but it would have been nice to see them twice, and in a different kind of setting. They really could have scheduled that better.

I might have been in East Belfast, but it felt like Kiev with the amount of Liverpool shirts in the venue. Hope they enjoyed hearing the score when watching underworld. Born Slippy would be an apt description of Loris Karius handling and shotstopping.

Of all the concerts to go on Saturday, I was thankful, I wasn’t at Echo and the Bunnymen in Birmingham, with the band grumpy at having to do the concert after previously cancelling it because they wanted to watch Liverpool v Real Madrid and then relenting after anger from fans.

Ian McCullough enters the stage grumpy (to be fair, he’s always grumpy) as Liverpool go 1-0 down in a room full of Aston Villa supporters annoyed that their side has just lost 1-0 to Fulham in the Championship Play-Off Final. Gloriously miserable.

Ash at Titanic was thankfully a lot more upbeat, as the band began with Burn Baby Burn (which is what a lot of the crowd were doing due to the sun), which the audience were told when the band was being introduced was the first song played on 6 Music.

Afterwards, they announced they only had 35 minutes left, and were going to perform hits, which is what they did, performing songs such as King Fu, Oh Yeah, Shining Light and Girl From Mars, as well as more recent hit Annabel.

There was a brief chat where Tim Wheeler reminisced about Ash most famous concert, which recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary, at Waterfront Hall, when Bono turned up as a guest alongside David Trimble and John Hume.

Guest stars seem to be a bit of a theme when Ash play Belfast.

When I saw them at The Empire in 2015, Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol joined them onstage.

Tim announced that “Two legends from Derry” would be joining them.

Who could it be? Nadine Coyle? Dana? Fionnuala that owns the chippy?

Sadly, it wouldn’t be Baltimora. That would have been remarkable.

It was Mickey Bradley and Damien O’Neill from The Undertones.

Both of them had contributed to the recording of Buzzkill from Ash’s current album, which they performed together.

It would have been a waste to bring them down from Derry for just one song.

Tim Wheeler then reminisced about getting a guitar on Christmas Day and the first song he learnt. He said he was now getting the best guitar lesson in the world, as the men who wrote it would be performing it with him.

That song, of course, was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, which Ash signed off with.

This was a local gig for Ash, after that, the line-up took on a Swedish theme with Neneh Cherry followed by First Aid Kit.

I like some Neneh Cherry songs, so it would have been rude not to stay for her. It wasn’t a long set, but it was more than Seven Seconds (Sorry).

Incidentally, that wasn’t performed, not that unsurprising given the logistics involved in getting Yossou N’Dour over or getting someone to sing his parts.

We did get Manchild, which was her opening song.

We also had some new songs, as she apologised for having to read some lyrics off a sheet which she blamed on “Old age” (She’s only 54) but added that and advantage is that she is now known as “Big mamma” in her house.

She then announced that her final song would be “A jazz song”. Surely she wouldn’t do a set and not perform Buffalo Stance?

She did a bass and synth heavy reinterpretation of the song as we know it. It was superb. It was definitely better than Kayleigh’s version in Car Share.

I wasn’t really that fussed on First Aid Kit (though I do love My Silver Lining) so I decided to go for a bite to eat during their set.

Talking of which, I do understand economics and cashing in when there’s a market, but some of the prices being charged for food and drink (I can’t comment on the bar, i’m talking about the food vans) were scandalous and taking the piss.

It was made worse that there was no readmission so people couldn’t pop over to The Odyssey or to a cafe beside Spar for a bite to eat. People were stuck where they were, and got exploited as a result.

So, fed and rested (and ripped off) I was now ready for Franz Ferdinand. You can see photos of Neneh Cherry here.

Ash Photo Album

Ash live at The Empire 2015

BECK – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND 25.5.2018)

Beck Hansen, no relation to Alan Hansen but he does look like David Jensen, rolled in to Belfast last Friday to perform at Biggest Weekend.

I was primarily there on Friday to see Manic Street Preachers, but it would have been rude not to hang around for Beck.

I am partial to a bit of Beck, loving tunes such as Loser, Where It’s At, Devil’s Haircut, Sexx Laws and Blue Moon.

I wouldn’t be a die hard devotee, but if i’m listening to the radio and the Presenter says “and now, something new from Beck” i’m not going to change the channel because I know there’s a high chance it will be decent.

By the time he took the stage, the weather had improved, and had reverted back to the sunshine that was there earlier in the day.

Walking onto stage, he jumped straight into Devil’s Haircut, with it’s distinct guitar riff, before performing new favourite Up All Night.

He was giving off a funky Prince vibe throughout, even going so far as to do a solo acoustic cover of Raspberry Beret by Prince.

That wasn’t the only cover of the night, there were brief snippets of Good Times, Alternative Ulster, Good Times, Cars and Once In A Lifetime as he individually introduced each member of his band during Where It’s At.

Music fans in Dublin have received a bonus of this event in Dublin, with some acts sneaking in a Dublin concert around this Belfast date.

Beck was one of those, doing a Dublin concert two days before this, while The Breeders were able to slot in a previously postponed Dublin date around this.

If his Dublin concert was anything like this, it would have been a treat. Belfast certainly got a treat.

Photo Album

MANIC STREET PREACHERS – LIVE AT TITANIC SLIPWAYS (BIGGEST WEEKEND) 25.5.2018

It’s not a Big Weekend, it’s the Biggest Weekend.

Not quite Radio 1’s Big Weekend, but an event primarily to fill the gap in the BBC’s schedules due to there being no Glastonbury this year, so the idea of Biggest Weekend was born.

It was a series of four concerts, one each in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales over two days over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. The days allocated for Northern Ireland would be Friday and Saturday.

Surprisingly, the Northern Ireland one was held in Belfast. I say surprisingly, because the main feature of Radio 1’s Big Weekend, was that it was held in towns or cities that don’t usually appear on tour schedules.

That was true of the other three venues – Coventry (England), Perth (Scotland) and Swansea (Wales)

Belfast was the choice for Northern Ireland, in Titanic Slipways in the East of the city.

This was a venue that had previous experience of hosting live music events, previously hosting Proms In The Park and Belsonic (in 2016).

I went to a couple of Belsonic gigs in 2016, and the big thing that stood out was that the stage was in a different location, facing the back of Titanic Centre rather than it’s back to the street outside.

Like in 2016, it was spatious. Very spatious, which made it easy for getting around on foot.

Each of the four concerts had a radio station leading it. For Belfast, it was 6 Music.

I wouldn’t be an avid listener to 6 Music, but when I do listen to it, they usually have decent tunes on it.

The line-up for this concert was varied. At £18 a ticket, even if you only saw one act, it would be worth it.

For me, there were two acts that stood out for me on the Friday, Manic Street Preachers and Beck.

Unsure of what time Manic Street Preachers would be on stage at, I booked a half-day off work, in case it was during my working hours.

As it turned out, when the set times were published on the Thursday, they would be scheduled for 6.20pm (they wre actually a few minutes late)

I could have went straight from work, but I made the most of the half-day, having a relaxing afternoon before arriving at the venue just before 5pm, to get a bite to eat before going to see The Manics.

It would be a performance without Nicky Wire, as news broke at lunchtime on Friday that he wouldn’t be onstage due to a family member being ill.

I didn’t catch the name of the stand-in, but he has nice legs according to James Dean Bradfield, talking inbetween songs, who apologised that he wouldn’t be wearing a leopardskin skirt like Nicky Wire.

One observation was that the venue had a lot of Wellends. I’m not sure why, he wasn’t performing, though it was the great man’s 60th birthday. I think they might have been there for Touts, who were performing on another stage in the venue.

Another observation was that the venue was infested with absolute fucking tramps. Puff puff vape vape everywhere you go. Standard for any outdoor event in Belfast sadly.

Anyone who smokes in a crowded public area is a dirty fucking tramp. There is no debate, it is a statement of fact. Belfast is infested with them.

Can we have just one outdoor event in Belfast that doesn’t stink of fags and vapes?

Eating outside on a nice day, going to a beer garden, going to a football match, going to an outdoor concert, walking down the street. Just some of the things you can’t do in Belfast without having to hold your nose and cover your mouth.

You can’t even queue for a bus for crying out loud.

A few years back, some people couldn’t even fly from Belfast to Glasgow because some fucking idiot couldn’t even go a short time without and lit up in the toilet, forcing the flight back to Belfast.

But yeah, i’m just a moany cunt and there’s not a serious social problem that needs to be addressed on a city and country wide basis.

Imagine being a smoker and thinking that you’re cool. Oh mate.

Mate. Mate mate mate. Oh mate. I really don’t know how to break it to you.

Cue the response that “Lots of cool people smoke, like Bill Hicks and David Bowie”.

They’re dead.

Watching the TV coverage, every crowd shot had a vape cloud in the background. Utterly embarrassing as a showcase for Belfast.

Can’t say i’ve ever walked past Primark and seen a milly in her pyjamas having a smoke and thought she is so cool.

We are the majority and our enjoyment of events is being held to ransom by dirty tramps.

I am absolutely fed up of having to hold my nose and cover my mouth every time I go to an outdoor concert. This needs addressed and addressed as soon as possible.

Eventually, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore entered the stage, introduced by Stuart Maconie, jumping straight into International Blue, the lead single from their current album Resistance Is Futile (Yes, the most Manic Street Preachers sounding album title you could think of)

It was one of several new songs – Distant Colours, People Give In and Hold Me Like A Heaven that can stand up to any Manic Street Preachers classic.

Of course, the classics were played as well the first of those, Motorcycle Emptiness prompted and outburst of dad dancing from James Dean Bradfield. It was one of several dad dancing moments during the gig. It’s not a new thing from past experience.

I was a bit of a relative latecomer to The Manics, only really getting into them when they released Everything Must Go.

It was the follow-up to that album that provided the mainstay of classics, such as If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next and You Stole The Sun From My Heart from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.

Sunny when I arrived at the venue, the weather had now got a bit dull. Manic Street Preachers, were anything but.

They ended on Design For Life, with Bradfield thanking everyone who attended, especially those who had seen them previously at The Limelight and Mandela Hall in the 1990s.

A good start to the music for me (there had been acts on stage from 1pm) with Beck to come. Orbital would be headlining the Friday night in Belfast, presumably because they have a song called Belfast.

Simple Minds were performing in Perth and had a hit called Belfast Child (As much as I like Simple Minds, that is an utter wank song) and sadly wouldn’t be coming to Belfast.

Manic Street Preachers more than made up for it.

To paraphrase Jim Kerr, they are still very much alive and kicking.

Photo Album

Manic Street Preachers live at Ulster Hall 2013

Manic Street Preachers live at Ulster 2009 Photo Album