Arthur’s Day Belfast

12 10 2011

Here’s a reprint of my coverage of the Arthur’s Day gig in Belfast that ran in Hot Press.

Arthur’s Day at the Ulster Hall, Belfast

For the last few years the music fans of Belfast have looked across the border every Sep 22 and felt, to borrow a phrase from the modern day prophet that is Amy Childs, well jell at our neighbours in Dublin having a fine old time celebrating Arthur’s Day. Tonight though, the green-eyed monster has been thoroughly slain as we’ve got our own event that boasts a solid line-up which rivals other shin-digs across the rest of Ireland and it all kicks off with bona fide local legends Ash.

Wasting little time breaking out the big guns, they metaphorically hit us between the eyes with their opening sucker punch of ‘Jack Names The Planets’ and ‘Girls From Mars’ and for the next twenty minutes or so, Tim and Co. treat us to an absolute pop punk masterclass. ‘Kung Fu’ leaves us feeling all nostalgic, ‘Oh Yeah’ (which is dedicated to Wheeler’s aunt who’s celebrating her 21st birthday tonight *nudge nudge, wink wink*) is as anthemic as ever and ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ proves that Ash can still set the stage alight after all these years. File under “P” for “Perfect.”

Next up, R ‘n’ B chanteuse Kelis takes to the stage clad in a sparkly outfit that would make the Strictly Come Dancing judges weak at the knees if they saw her. Starting her set with ‘Trick Me,’ she has the crowd in the palm of her hand when she performs a mash-up of Madonna’s ‘Holiday,’ Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and her own ‘Milkshake,’ and ‘Acapella’ sounds great in the Ulster Hall. Sadly though, it seems that her eagerness to (responsibly) enjoy some Guinness has gotten the better of her as she doesn’t stick around much longer than that, but what we did see was fun while it lasted…

Beatsmith DJ Fresh is on afterwards and unfortunately his backing singers fall foul to some of those pesky sound desk gremlins, but they grin and bear it and manage to turn in a good rendition of ‘Louder’ for the faithful. After that, local lads Cashier No.9 take to the stage and from the opening strains of ‘Goldstar’ it’s apparent that they’re rapidly maturing into one of the best bands the country has to offer right now. There are plenty of highlights in their short set, but oldie ‘When Jackie Shone’ is this reviewer’s pick for song of the night.

A few minutes later, the Enemy march on stage and perform an attitude-filled set which really benefits from a punkier, rawer sound. One of ladrock’s leading lights now that Oasis have snuffed it, the boys sound like world-beaters during the likes of ‘Away From Here,’ ‘Had Enough’ and ‘You’re Not Alone’ and the Jam-esque ‘We’ll Live And Die In These Towns’ sounds tailor-made for the Belfast crowd.

Irish demi-gods Horslips handle headline duties and the reunited Celtic rock innovators do it with aplomb. The Ulster Hall has always been a special venue for the band and it really does feel as if we’re witnessing something truly special tonight. Though they only have time for a few songs from their much storied history, the five-piece are utterly spell-binding and their musicianship is, as expected, first class. ‘Dearg Doom’ is the undisputed highlight but the band’s unplanned, curfew breaking cover of ‘Shakin’ All Cover’ gives it a run for its money.

So, same time next year then?

Edwin McFee

Final Hot Press NI News Column Of 2010

16 12 2010

Here’s a reprint of my final Hot Press NI news column of the year!


Words: Edwin McFee

Christmas comes a little early this week for music lovers in the North thanks to a project named You Are Music. Master-minded by the people behind A Plastic Rose and Di Di Mau Records, the travelling showcase tour intends to provide some sonic excitement all across the country as well as hopefully encouraging more people to get involved in the scene in any shape or form they fancy. At the moment they have a nine show jaunt in the works and the dates for your diary are as follows (deep breath):

Dec 4-Mojo Fury, Cashier No. 9, the Jane Bradfords and John D’Arcy play at the Cellar bar in Draperstown while Fragments, Anna Purna, Chocolate Love Factory and the unfortunately named Love Sausage Disorder appear at the Common Rooms in Dungannon. Dec 16-Kasper Rosa, Colly Strings and Once Before Take Off play at the Top of the Town in Omagh. Dec 17-Silhouette, the Rupture Dogs, Paul Shelvin and Kasper Rosa perform at the Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast. Dec 18-A Plastic Rose, Axis Of, Key of Atlas, Colly Strings and Pretty Child Backfire appear at the Mandela Hall in Belfast. Dec 22-Gacys Threads and A Northern Light are in Dicey’s, Strabane and finally, on Christmas Eve Eve (that’s Dec 23 for all of you who didn’t grow up watching Zig and Zag on the Den) Fighting with Wire, Treble M, Echo Falls, Dr Gonzo and Where the Noise Lives are in the Nerve Centre, Derry, Bomb City 7, Before Machines, Jifubuki and Off the Reservation are in the Retro, Portrush and And So I Watch You From Afar, Team Fresh and More Than Conquerors play a very special show in the Hideout, Warrenpoint.

For more information on the events (and for details on how you can become involved) check out their website

Next up, it’s with a heavy heart that we announce that No Mean City have went their separate ways nearly a year to the day since they first formed. Despite being nominated in this very magazine’s Hot for 2010 list and playing festivals such as Download, Sonisphere and T in the Park, the old “musical differences” has reared its ugly head and they’ve sadly decided to call it a day. We’d like to wish all the members the best of luck for the future and we’re now off to listen to ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Mickey Jackson. Sniff.

But before we leave you, keep your ears out for a new band called Silence Convicts ( featuring members of the Lobotomies and Gacys Threads to name but too. They’ve only just formed, but I’ve a feeling they’ll start 2011 with a bang…

Big Gig Number 2

29 05 2009

At the moment I’m taking a wee break from reviewing eight albums and last night’s Maccabees gig for Hot Press, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to plug tonight’s Big Gig. It’s Cashier No. 9, Mojo Fury and Dutch Schultz on the bill so get down to the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast for 10pm.

It should be a good one.