Oh Yeah Open Day Gig
For years the music scene in Belfast was simply depressing. Major acts rarely ever toured the North. If you wanted to form a band and make a go of it in the music biz you'd be lucky if you could find a place to rehearse, and so far as getting a break into the scene, well, you'd might as well go whistle. It was, quite literally, grim up North.
Fast forward to December 2005. An idea takes root. The creation of a one-stop shop for all the budding talent and blossoming bands this wee country has consistently knocked over the years from the Adventures to the Undertones. Several years, and a few licks of paint later, here we are, inside the Outlet Building on the occasion of the opening.
The dream has materialised and tonight, we are treated to some jaw-dropping performances by some of the Northern Ireland's biggest and brightest stars and its up-and-coming talent.
On an evening of firsts, Pat and Nipsy, two thirds of The Fools, kick off the show. ï¿½Enjoy it', the Fools sing, enjoy it we do, only a fool wouldn't warm to the melodic pop combo that is Pat Damoglou Smyth on bass and Nipsy Fergus Russell on guitar. Now based in Liverpool, this duo, together with drummer Steve Pilgrim have recently released a seven song EP available at all good record stores (and probably a few dodgy ones, too).
It takes a Jetplane Landing to get the crowd on their feet. Showcasing material from their upcoming release, Backlash Cop; this Anglo-Irish act are proving to be one of the best acts out there right now. The living embodiment of the Oh Yeah ethos; Andrew Ferris and Co. have previously released two albums on their Smalltown America label, plus tracks from over a hundred artists who previously may have remained unheard. Songs such as 'Lungs Of Punk' and 'Why Do They Never Play Les Savy Fav On The Radio', are not only a contenders for song title of the year, they really make you want to move. The next time this act touchdown in Belfast, make sure you're onboard for an intense listening experience!
As well as previewing new Starsailor material James Walsh from Starsailor paid homage to Van the Man with ï¿½Wild Night', plus his own 'Four To The Floor' and a snatch of The Gorillaz's 'Dare'.
Burning Codes are next on stage. The band; recently assembled by Paul Archer from the Ghears have never played together before live. Their sound is reminiscent of Spiritualized but it is still very unique as their songs, or ï¿½sonic messages' as they'd prefer, reach out to the audience like a symphonious handshake.
Gary Lightbody visited the former recording studios in Gordon Street in 2006 looking for a location to house the Oh Yeah project. Tonight Gary returned alongside Lisa Hannigan as she performs for the first time since parting company with Damien Rice. 'Set The Fire To The Third Bar' is simply beautiful, as is the rendition of 'Some Surprise', a duet the pair originally recorded for the Oxfam charity album The Cake Sale last year. Guy Harvey from Elbow joins Gary on stage to sing the Undertones classic 'Teenage Kicks'.
'Run' gets the acoustic treatment, accompanied by mobile phone, or was it someone playing Pacman? Whatever it was brings a smile to Lightbody's face and he returns the favour by putting a smile on ours, performing a yet unnamed song written especially for the day.
Elbow flew in from Manchester for the occasion. Label mates of Duke Special on V2, the band's self-recorded third album 'Leaders Of The Free World' is again proof that the Do It Yourself attitude is the driving force behind much that is innovative and fresh in today's music scene.
And speaking of innovative and fresh; Duke Special brings the evening's entertainment to a close. From the giddy heights and bright lights of Thursdays musical extravaganza in the Waterfront, tonight for Peter Wilson's second Belfast gig in three days it's all stripped down to the basics. When he sings us out with the Ash number 'Oh Yeah' he's melting our hearts and making us believe there is every reason for fresh young acts to truly flourish in this truly vibrant building.
The dream has materialised, the conditions are now in place for Belfast to become known as a thriving musical city that can support and promote the home-grown local talent out there. Tonight, standing in a former whiskey warehouse, spirits are lifted and restored. Is Belfast really, as the evening's compere James Nesbit remarks ï¿½The most exciting city in the world right now?ï¿½ Simple answer really, Oh Yeah!
Photos by Keith Wilson