Arriving at Auntie Annie's just before 8.30 and noticing a sign saying Johnny Foreigner would be on stage at 9.40 left me thinking I really should have spent another hour with Mario Kart and my cherry Lambrini. However, the surprise (to me anyway) warm-up appearance from Cutaways was ample compensation.
Over the past few years our paths have never crossed so it was great to finally put faces to the voices. Guitarist Paul looks nothing like I imagined and gave off the impression of someone who isn't 100% comfortable with being on stage. However, keyboard maestro Grace looks as cute as her voice has you believe and possesses the finger dexterity of a world origami champion to boot.
A warm-up set of around 45 minutes kicked off with 'I Spilled Your Drink' and included 'I Dont Understand What You Dont Say', 'Lovers are Lunatics' and my personal Cutaways favourite 'Milo of Kroton'. This was a quality showcase of the band's best music but I'm curious to see them as the headline act and see how they perform with a bit more pressure and a few more bodies in attendance. That's top of my 'to do' list for 2010.
Johnny Foreigner played in Belfast last year to a meagre crowd of eight. A quick show of hands after their opening song revealed all eight had returned for more - surely a statistic any band would be proud of. The venue wasn't full but there was more than enough of a crowd to generate a warm, appreciative atmosphere.
Crowded around the front of the stage were the die hard Johnny Foreigner fans - dancing and singing along to every song like a group of wrinkly pensioners at a Tom Jones concert (minus the underwear throwing). In return, the Birmingham trio provided a high tempo performance with the perfect blend of music, inebriation and sweat.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Alexei Berrow revelled in the adoration from his followers whilst bassist Kelly made every grown man in the room quiver with her delicious vocals and girl-next-door good looks.
Drummer Junior provided balance to the trio with his energetic stick work and seemed gutted when his guest spell on guitar was cut short by damaged equipment - apparently two months of solid touring around the country has taken it's toll on the band's gear.
We were treated to some material from the new 'Grace and the Bigger Picture' album creatively interspersed with the better known 'Criminals', 'Salt Peppa and Spinderella' and the ridiculously short 'Feels like Summer'.
Overall, a great night which should have sent all in attendance home happy and ensured an even bigger crowd next time Johnny Foreigner are in town. I know I'll be there.