I love music. I love watching music videos, listening to a new album on my iPod on the walk to work or immersing myself completely in the sounds of my favourite artists at live gigs.
When I moved to Belfast 15 years ago (eek), it was still a huge deal when a band you loved opted to include Northern Ireland on their touring schedule. I still remember the sheer excitement I felt when I was getting ready to start university and it was announced Stereophonics were going to play the then Odyssey Arena. Bearing in mind we were 18 years olds, not to mention from the country, the squeals that emitted from my friends and I were for dolphin ears only.
Since then Belfast’s music scene has evolved so much that venues like the Limelight, Mandela Hall, Ulster Hall and the SSE Arena often act as host to some of the biggest names in the music world. Last month I got to see one of my all time favourites, Fall Out Boy, when they supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Tennents Vital. This was an amazing gig for several reasons;
- Fall Out Boy were as amazing as always.
- I haven’t seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers before but they put on a hell of a show.
- It was an outdoor gig at which the sun shone – if you’ve ever been to Belfast before, you’ll know what a big deal this is.
Whilst Belfast is now a big draw for big names, it also likes to support local talent. At the end of August I went to see Belfast band Maverick at the Limelight 2. I have seen this 5 piece a few times in the Belfast Empire but it never ceases to amaze me how powerful David Balfour’s voice is, as well as how much passion the rest of the band pour into the songs they’ve crafted.
From Van Morrison to Snow Patrol, and The Stiff Little Fingers to The Undertones, Northern Ireland had produced some of the biggest talents in the music industry. My favourite Northern Irish band of all, however, is Ash. 1977 was the soundtrack of my youth and needless to say I was ecstatic to hear that on the 20th anniversary of its release the band are playing it, in its entirety, on their new tour. My ticket is already bought and the countdown is on for what is sure to be a fantastic gig in the Mandela Hall.
Having grown up in a city whose music presence is only getting better and better is an amazing thing to witness. Belfast’s ability to change and adapt, in spite of its past, is one of the reasons I love this city so much.
To find out more about Ash’s 1977 gig at Mandela Hall Belfast, visit: http://www.mandelahall.com/ni-music-prize-ash-mandela-hall