Shizznigh Presents: The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan, No Oil Paintings, Aidan Logan and Whale Talk.

For their third Sound of Belfast gig, Shizznigh Promotions managed to put together another sublime line-up of performers. Consisting of new and established acts for a brilliant week night expedition to the Empire it certainly motivated a lot of people to come out in full force. Starting the night off is Whale Talk who despite being a fairly new band have been making a considerable breakthrough on the NI scene. They are the perfect band to help introduce and begin the evening with delicate harmonies and casual indie vibes.

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Up next is singer-songwriter Aidan Logan who has brought a full band with him for the night. Recently returning from Nashville where Aidan spent his time writing, recording and soaking in all that Tennessee has to offer. Very charming and confident on stage, Aidan immediately attempts to build a good rapport with the audience by telling them anecdotes about his songs and travels. His song ‘Higher’ is an incredibly catchy and infectious song and is the highlight of the set. Having spent so much time in Nashville it’s evident how much Aidan has been influenced by country throughout his set while also putting his own twist on songs . Towards the end of his set Aidan takes a moment to dedicate a song to his friend Margaret who just passed away ‘Seems You Better Go’. As the rest of the band step aside it’s just Aidan and his guitar accompanied by soft and gentle piano and is a beautiful tribute.

Four piece ‘No Oil Paintings’ arrive next on stage and begin their set with ‘God Only Knows’. Lead singer Chris Kelly’s vocals sound immediately strong and powerful accompanied with George Sloan’s solid drums makes for a bold entrance from the band. Their second track ‘Cut Me’ has guitarist Sean Doone take the lead for vocals with a deeper and darker tone to his voice adding a melancholic element to the song. Finishing the set with their latest single ‘Icarus’ which the boys have also just released a video for the song begins with gorgeous harmonies. There is a really good synergy between all the members on stage and you can truly feel the connection that they not only have as musicians but as friends. The biggest triumph for any band is to be able to sound better live than they do on track and this is certainly true for No Oil Paintings.

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Finally the main act of the night, The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan takes to the stage with No Oil Paintings joining for the band’s debut gig. Inhabiting the full character of Dr Hannigan, Tony Wright appears with a top hat and long coat and it’s clear from the start that not only are we in for a musical treat but a theatrical performance as well. With so many people onstage it felt like a huge jam session was about to take place with an array of players and instruments.  Dr Hannigan’s first release ‘Hey Little Worried One’ begins with impressive harmonies before the hypnotic drum beat kicks in. There is an electric atmosphere in the Empire as the audience become increasingly more and more excited as the band continue.  

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There were points during the set that I felt as though I had been transported to a real blues bar located in Louisiana as my senses were completely overwhelmed by the incredibly funky ‘We Can’t Breathe’. Inviting Steven McCartney to the stage for the slowest song of the night ‘You the bottle and me’, Tony comes right down off the stage into the audience. Making his way over the tops of tables and across chairs it was almost as if the vigour of the crowd had carried him. Inciting the audience to begin chanting, the crowd continue to clap and foot stomp even after the band leaves the stage. Setting the bar for future performances, The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan’s first gig was a truly overwhelming and successful night for a band at any stage of their career never mind one’s debut. 

By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos by Ciara McMullan

Shizznigh Presents: Anto and the Echoes, Vokxen, Part-time Pilots, Les Pantalons and Darren Doherty and the Heathen Choir

As part of the continuing Sound of Belfast festivities, Shizznigh Promotions presented a showcase of up and coming local bands and acts on Friday in the Oh Yeah. A remarkably versatile and talented line up of performers, it was great to see so many fans arrive from early on to help enjoy and support the evening. Another wonderful Sound of Belfast gig it was refreshing to attend an event with acts that were not only new to myself but a few that I had been meaning to catch for a while.

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Arriving just on time to catch the last few minutes of Darren Doherty and the Heathen Choir there is an upbeat atmosphere as everyone seems excited for a night of good music. Despite what their name might suggest the heathen choir helps support Doherty’s extraordinarily melodic musical offering and I look forward to catching the band in full next time. Up next was ‘Les Pantalons’ who provided more of a jam style routine with the three of them remaining seated throughout. The very chilled and relaxed position from the band made for an easy and enjoyable performance.

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‘Part Time Pilot’s take to the Oh Yeah stage next as the audience starts to build. The bands energy and vivacious presence on stage helps to encourage audience members to gather at the front. Their great audience interaction ensures that fans are kept very interested and attentive for the whole set. Lead singer Enda Mc Crory has a very strong and alluring voice which along with their accessible rock sound has ensured that Part Time Pilots are a band worth keeping your ears open for. 

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Catchy, melodic girl group Vokxen are next to perform as they enchant the audience with their atmospheric pop sound. The group shimmers on stage with both their glittery outfits and seductive harmonies creating the perfect pop storm. The trios synth heavy sound accompanied with sweet melodies and electronic dance tunes makes Vokxen the most memorable act of the night.

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Headlining the evening was the incredibly talented Anto and the Echoes, the six-piece who have a distinct look certainly appear the part on stage. It can often be difficult waiting to go on all night especially after so many acts before them but Anto and the Echoes take it completely in their stride. Lead singer Antony Breen is certainly a confident and self-assured front man who knows how to work both a crowd and a stage. Moving effortlessly from catchy pop songs to heavier indie rock sounds serves only to highlight the bands versatility. The band carries a very positive upbeat vibe when they perform and was something that the audience certainly reacted to helping to end a very successful Sound of Belfast showcase. 

By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos by Carrie Davenport Photography

 

Gifted: Sister Ghost, Born Only Yesterday, The Sea, Close By and LetGo Dive- The Belfast Empire

For the second event of Sound of Belfast’s premier night, I made a quick dash over to the Empire where Gifted had put together an absolutely amazing line up. Unfortunately I missed alt rockers ‘Let Go Dive’ as I was making my way from one venue to the next but will be sure to catch them next time.

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Self described as polite rockers from Belfast ‘The Sea, Close by’ are up next and by this stage The Empire has started to fill out. Starting of their set with ‘Never Ever’ the band grow in confidence as they continue and become more relaxed throughout. After a few songs the drummer interrupts to tell the audience that bass player Kate and singer Alastair have just recently got married after originally meeting in the very venue we are standing in, ‘The Empire. Finishing off their set with ‘Humphrey’s Got a Heat Lamp’ they tease the audience briefly with the Friends theme tune before launching full force into their track and ending the set with their strongest song.

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North Coast post rock four piece ‘Born Only Yesterday’ are next to the stage. The boys who released their EP ‘The Eyes, The Heart, The Sin’ in September have been busy making their rounds on the local scene. Clearly having built up a burgeoning legion of fans there is a small crowd gathered at the front of the stage who are attentive throughout. Front man Danny McClelland is a commanding presence on stage and the band have an addictive energy with a great vibe between members. Above all Born Only Yesterday are enjoyable and fun to watch and they exude the kind of spirit that makes you want to join a band and I look forward to see what the next few months bring for them. 

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Finally finishing off the night is the ever confident Sister Ghost who assuredly take their position on stage. Lead singer Shannon O’Neil is an incredible force to be reckoned with as she navigates and leads the rest of the band with ease. Already entrenched in the NI rock scene it’s easy to see why they have become favourites with their ferocious rhythms, diverse textures and distinct delivery. With highly rhythmic, rapid paced songs and O’Neil’s vocal power and ability always make Sister Ghost a very entertaining act to watch.

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By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos-Bernie McAllister

Sound of Belfast: Getting to Know with Leah McFall- Oh Yeah Centre

After months of anticipation, Sound of Belfast has finally arrived and what a perfect event to start it all off, ‘Getting to Know with Leah McFall’. A festival dedicated to showcasing everything that’s great about local music Sound of Belfast also helps to provide a platform for artists, bands and performers. ‘The Getting to Know’ event which has been part of a regular series at the Oh Yeah gives artists and bands an opportunity to connect with an audience in a more personal and intimate environment. As well as performing songs the artist is able to give insights behind the writing and recording process of each track and allows the audience to become involved by asking them to participate.

For the special ‘Sound of Belfast’ edition of ‘Getting to Know’ we were treated to the remarkably talented Leah McFall. After capturing the nation’s attention with her mesmerising voice in BBC’s ‘The Voice’, Leah has spent the last few years crafting her own sound and style. Her rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will Survive’  helped to demonstrate Leah’s powerful vocal prowess and secured her runner up in the show. Leah who released her debut six track E.P ‘Ink’ back in March is currently working on brand new material for her next record. 

The evening which was hosted by the very charming Emer Maguire made everyone feel immediately at ease as we settled in for the show. For her first song of the night Leah performed her track ‘Language’ which was very accurately described by Emer as vocal acrobatics. Starting off the discussion by asking how Leah would describe her music to someone who hasn’t heard it there is a lovely relaxed atmosphere in the room.

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Not only asking questions, Emer also provided entertainment throughout the evening with a few games. As well as involving the audience and developing a good rapport with them the games also helped us find out a bit more about Leah. Learning that Leah had not only eaten grass before but that she had also practiced kissing ‘Michael Jackson’ on his ‘Bad’ CD left everyone not only laughing but definitely feeling as though we knew her a bit better. 

With an audience of both new and older fans the crowd was transfixed for her second song of the evening, ‘Wolf Den’. The song which Leah describes as incredibly emotional and about her journey to becoming an independent artist is flooded with sentiment. The song truly emphasises Leah’s unique vocal ability as she flawlessly’s moves from one note to the next.


Leah’s final performance for the evening was an unreleased track that she has been working on ‘On My Own’ and was the perfect song to end the night. 
Emer Maguire’s completely natural sense of humor along with her charisma made the night thoroughly enjoyable. ‘Getting to Know’ is a wonderful event where you come away really feeling as if you got a personal insight to one your favourite performers. Despite, being very well known Leah was incredibly warm and open and just genuinely good craic, making it a really fun event for everyone involved.

 

10 things all Stendhal virgins need to know.

10 things all Stendhal virgins need to know.

Stendhal is incredibly proud that many people have chosen us over the years to be their very first festival experience. The first time you go to a festival an be can eye opening
experience and one that stays with you for a lifetime.

For all Stendhal virgins out there who are worried about what to expect on their first time, here is a list of tips I have picked up over the years. Hopefully, just like I have had the last few years these helpful hints will make sure you have the best festival possible. Whatever happens, what you get up to at Stendhal stays at Stendhal!

1. Camping: While Stendhal isn’t the biggest festival it is certainly growing every year and picking a good site to camp is essential and will help set you up well for the weekend. Having a good collection of friends tents together will not only make sure you’ll have a good weekend but will also minimise your chance of crawling into a complete strangers tent while trying to find your own in the dead if the night. P.S No matter how early you arrive there will always be people there before you.

2. Wellies: Welly boots are both essential and inevitable. I detest wellies but without them I don’t think I could survive the weekend. I even went as far to wrap plastic bags around my feet one year so I could wear my normal shoes before finally admitting defeat and putting them on.

3. Phone Chargers: If you are one of those who likes to snap, text or Instagram every minute of your Stendhal experience then I would highly recommend that you bring a portable charging devise. As well as broadcasting live your every move you never know when you’ll need to make an emergency call for someone to come pick you up. Also having a torch app on your phone will save the day on more than one occasion during the weekend.

4. Water: You will need it and by the bucket load too. As mentioned before there is nothing worse than waking up first thing in the morning, dying of thirst and reaching out only to find more cans. The walk to the stalls to buy some is torture as your mouth is drier than the Sahara desert. So, make a bit of room in your luggage for a two-litre of water and leave some alcohol behind maybe? If only I would ever listen to my own advice

5. Food: Bring all the snacks you can possibly carry for all those hangover munchies. Mines usually consists of several different crisp variety bags because having Tayto in the morning and some Dorito’s in the afternoon makes it feel like you’re having several different meals. And after all variety is the spice of life.

6. Tissues: Either a packet of tissues or baby wipes is a necessity. While Stendhal has some of the cleanest toilets I’ve ever encountered at a festival you will count your blessings you brought them with you at your time of need. I’ve also made some of best friends standing in the toilet queue and handing out tissues. Well, best friends for the whole five mins we are in the queue together anyways.

7. Make a plan: With one of the best festival line-ups this summer it is best to plan out exactly who you want to see. Nothing worse than two of your favourite band’s clashing at the same time and trying to decide which one to miss only to discover it was the best set of their career. However, if you time it right you can see both of them, that is if you’re willing to run the whole length of the field to see them.

8. Warm clothes: All of your warm clothes are a must. One thing I have definitely learned is that my ugliest yet cosiest jumper is usually my best friend at Stendhal. For someone who is cold all the time normally, you think that I would learn my lesson and bring all the jumpers I own, but no I usually end up wearing all of my friend’s coats. Also no matter how warm it is during the day or how hot the weather said it is going to be it is absolutely baltic at night.

9. Don’t be a dickhead: I think no matter what festival you attend there will always be a few people who think it’s really cool to ruin everyone else’s weekend. Weather it’s being too drunk or just not respecting everyone around you, just don’t be that guy. With such a strong focus on being family friendly it is so important to remember that the festival is not just for you and your drunken mates, but for everyone. Stendhal is, after all, a festival that promotes peace, love, art and music so maybe let’s stick to the mantra that they’ve worked so hard to encourage.

10. BE SAFE: Probably the most important rule of any festival is to look after yourself and the ones that are around you. While festivals are an amazing place to let loose please be wary of everyone around you and most importantly make sure you take care of number one.

Review: Lore-‘Never Got Over You’

 

Five piece indie folk group, Lore have been on an impressive rise to success over the last few years. Having been nominated for ‘Best Irish Band’ and ‘Best EP’ by the Pure M Awards 2015 for their self-titled debut EP, the group have worked hard for their acclaim. Made up by a diverse collection of musicians the band has managed to bring all their capabilities and influences together to create their unique sound.

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Their second E.P ‘Believe’ which was released in spring 2016 contained their highly acclaimed single, ‘Teenage Kicks’ a cover of the renowned Undertones song.  Following this, the band played numerous UK and Irish festivals as well as supporting well-known acts such as Kila, Ciaran Lavery and Cara Dillion. The band is currently fronted by recognised singer-songwriter Carolann Carlile who is supported by Raymond O’Kane on piano, Luke McCloskey on guitar, Cliodhna McAteer on cello and Rebecca Hall on fiddle.

The band’s latest offering comes in the form of their single ‘I’ll never get over you’ which is a beautiful re-introduction to the group. Taking the listener on a journey with the song, the lyrics tell us a tale of a heartbroken lover.  The group’s name, Lore refers to the art of story-telling or folklore and is something they do incredibly well as a band. Creating emotional and expressive narratives within their songs seems to be second nature to the group as I’m sure this song will tug on a few heart strings.

Singer, Carolann’s stunning vocals help carry this track with the traditional Irish elements to her voice helping add character and sentiment to the song. The romantic yet melancholic lyrics are complemented by the beautiful piano accompaniment, helping to create that Lore magic that they bring to their songs. The quintet who has also been incredibly busy writing and recording their album has teamed up with Pledge Music to offer you exclusive offers to those who help support their release.

As well as their album, Lore will embark on their very first theatre tour this coming summer supporting the spectacular Niamh McGlinchey. Playing dates across Northern Ireland this musical collaboration is something that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Lore:  Tour Dates

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Roe Valley Arts Theatre, Limavady, Sat 24th June

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Black Box, Belfast, Sat 22nd July

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Alley Theatre, Strabane, Sat 19th August

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Bardic Theatre, Donaghmore, Sat 23rd September

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Market PlaceTheatre, Armagh Sat 18th November

 

Review: Remembering Stevie Martin-The Nerve Centre, Derry.

Saturday night saw The Nerve Centre, Derry return to its old days of glory with a packed out venue for what was an extremely poignant and emotional night. While there were many venues that could have hosted this event, the Nerve Centre for myself and I’m sure many others is a place of significance. The first venue I ever attended and the place where my love for the local music scene began it was truly lovely to see it full to capacity for such a special night. Arranged by close friend Eilish Kelly the touching tribute also helped raise a significant amount for Pieta House a charity who provides help to people who are in suicidal distress or those who engage in self-harm. Electric Mainline host Stephen McCauley who had been given the honours of presenting the evening was the perfect choice as everyone gathered to remember Stevie Martin.

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Entering the venue to an already packed crowd, I arrive just on time to catch John Deery and the Heads. Although, it has been a while since I had the pleasure of seeing this band, I am instantly reminded of why they are so admired. Their laidback vibe was transcendent as everyone in the main room was relaxed and enjoying themselves. Lead singer Deery is an extremely modest and friendly frontman, making their performance all the more enjoyable.  Joining the band on stage, SOAK arrives for a poignant performance as they pay tribute to Rainy Boy Sleep.

As there was music occupying both venues I moved across to the next room to try and catch Waldorf and Canon. Unfortunately, I am stopped at the door only to be told that the room is too packed. The band who also performed the night before in Sandino’s proved that fans just can’t get enough of the duo. Despite, my initial disappointment of not being allowed in it has certainly been a while since I have been told that any of the rooms in the Nerve have been too packed and was a welcome change.

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Next up on the main stage was Glenn Rosborough who accompanied only by a drummer opens his set with then ‘Someday you Gonna be Someone’.  Glenn’s haunting vocals always provoke a reaction with audiences as everyone in the venue becomes engrossed in his performance.  Glenn who is currently working on a new album has been relentless force in the Irish music scene over the last few years. I think anyone who has ever seen Glenn is of the same opinion that his boundless and raw talent particularly lyrically is incredible.

At this point the venue is buzzing and is reminiscent of past gigs when Stevie would have played to packed out such as the Nerve. Helping to bring a change of pace and liven up the crowd, Making Monsters take to the stage. While on the heavier side of the spectrum in comparison to some of the other acts on the bill the band certainly woke the crowd up. Despite, being a constant on the scene for the last five years it’s always amusing to see an audience being blown away by the power and prowess of this band. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s colossal range accompanied by the band’s contagious rock sound has created the perfect fusion of noise. Playing new song ‘Secrets’ with its incredibly catchy chorus and huge sound ensures that this song is on route to become a huge hit

With both rooms full to capacity at this stage the Wood Burning Savages were treating the audience to quite the experience across the hall. The band have an amazing ability to create a surge of energy no matter what stage they grace with their hammering drums and pulsating songs. With the bands signature punk-centric sound and lead singer Paul Connolly’s raw vocals it is no wonder that they have garnered a famed live reputation. Connolly even managed to climb onto someone’s shoulders while entertaining a charmed crowd who couldn’t be ceased dancing.

Finally the headliners of the night ASIWYFA take to the stage, it’s been a while since the band have graced Derry with their presence and it’s a wonderful welcome home. Having cemented their reputation one the most formidable live acts in the country I couldn’t think of a better choice for a headline act. Playing a track of Stevie’s while the band accompanies it is an incredibly emotional and moving moment. Raising the roof I take a good look around the room, there are a lot of tears, smiles and people just breathing in this extraordinary moment and won’t be one forgotten soon.

Saturday’s gig was a special night for a few reasons. First, for anyone who was in attendance it was abundantly clear how immensely talented we are here in Northern Ireland. Secondly, it was lovely to see so many friends who would have originally met going to local gigs reconnecting. As Stephen McCauley said in his speech music is about having a tribe and we all must look after one another.  Thirdly, remembering how amazing it used to be to go to The Nerve Centre or any gig and being excited by music. I still remember going to see Stevie there just a few years ago and the buzz circulating around the venue was infectious. And lastly to celebrate the life of someone who through some way or another weather it was his music or just Stevie being himself had moved and touched so many lives.

Well done to everyone involved it was a truly special night.

-Aine Cronin-McCartney