Belsonic 2009

Check out all our takes on the rip-roaring sets in Belfast's Custom House Square, plus a couple of extra treats...


10 notable (non-music) things about Belsonic 09

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ATL | 18:08 UK time, Monday, 31 August 2009

1. The general buzz...
Belsonic is a little bit special - this we know. The location is sublime - in the centre of a capital city, flanked by a beautiful piece of architecture and just the right size and layout. The security where chilled, helpful and understanding. The burgers were outrageously good and the selection at the bar obviously had been well thought out. Everyone seemed so happy, comfortable and appreciative of a festival willing to go just that little bit further.

2. Rigsy and Paul's office...
Rigsy and Paul's officeMala and Bronagh, the charming 'hospitality' girls, decided to be nice to your favourite presenter and producer combo, reserving them a nice blue office backstage. It may only have been a few foot squared, but it did come with a plastic hand basin! It also had a desk, though it was quite a strange design - quite low down and with a weird lid thing that lifted up revealing a kind of watery, bleach-y reservoir. Very post-modern - must have cost a fortune to design. The office had a lock as well, so we had a little privacy to type up any particularly sensitive reviews. You'd even know if we were inside - red meant "hard at work", green meant "come on in say hello". Worked an absolute treat! Until someone wee-d all over our desk :-(

3. No one drinking on Saturday...
What is it with Duke Special fans and booze? The bar seemed empty all day Saturday, while the coffee and burger stall was pretty hectic. We're in no way suggesting everyone needs to get the beers in or advocating binge drinking - but maybe if a few drinks had been downed there would have been a little more movement down the front.

4. Deadmau5 Mau5headz...
deadmau5, complete with mau5headA welcomed diversion from a startlingly average performance was the handful of punters with proper, multicoloured Deadmauz heads on in the crowd. Apparently they travel all round the place after him! Impressive costumes and everything, but watching Deadmau5 every night... really?

5. Dizzee the brat backstage...
Word reaches us that Dizzee and his crew enjoyed a raucous food fight and general wreckin' session in and around their digs backstage. As if that wasn't rock n' roll enough, it's worth pointing out said food fight and wrecking session took place sometime before lunch.

6. 2manydjs keep the party going...
2manydjsAs if being responsible for the most fun Belfast has had ever wasn't enough, the Dawaele brothers kept the rave going long enough to throw an awesome aftershow at the Stiff Kitten, dropping everything from Dizzee Rascal to The Stone Roses. Rigsy even got to do the warm up and was so overcome by the experience he was spotted weeping gently, shortly after the changeover.

7. Backstage strops...
Not mentioning any names, but a certain act on the bill, who seem to go out of their way to be awkward, made it difficult/impossible for us to either photograph them or broadcast their set. An act who, in the past, gave us an 'interview' that was so unusable we had to abandon it half way through. I know it's, you know, fun and mad and outrageous and everything to be outrageously rude and unhelpful to people who only want to play your music to other people who may enjoy it, but still, if you really have to be like that, at least write a couple of decent songs first, okay?

8. Paul Noonan the stud...
Paul NoonanHard to dislike Paul Noonan, what with him being an absolute gent, but we are a little jealous of his way with the ladies. We watched with a certain bitterness in our eyes as all the females backstage swooned at his general being. The question though - is he enough of a stud that a pair of ladies can justify hiding in the adjacent changing room to his, in the dark, so they can spy on him getting changed? No point in asking the hospitality girls about this as they would have no idea what you're on about.

9. Magic numbers playing guitar at a house party...
A friend of ATL's arrived home on Saturday night/Sunday morning from a rave taking place elsewhere in town only to find the Magic Numbers playing guitar in her living room. We have no idea how or why they had ended up in a house in East Belfast and indeed whether they ever went home.

10. And saving the best until last - Donna's cup cakes...
Donna's cup cakesSweet holy moly these were good. Donna Legge, former ATL presenter and an all round wonderful human being, had teamed up with her mate Jane for 'Cakebox', a specially designed cupcake wonderland set up for day three.

The apple/cinnamon ones in particularly were obscenely good, but we couldn't bring ourselves to eat the ones designed to look like tiny gramophones.

Donna - you're going to cater all of ATL's weddings. And our funerals. And our lunches, dinners and suppers if we get our way. We salute you.

Belsonic 09 - Duke Special

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ATL | 23:10 UK time, Saturday, 29 August 2009


Describe in a tweet: Cold crowd, warm performer.

What went down: In the context of Belsonic as a three day event,  'Dukebox' was pretty low key. For a start, when compared to Dizzee and 2manydjs, Saturday night's turn out is distinctly average. And Duke Special's fanbase are notably older. They're also notably polite and pretty sober. Such a novelty, given what we've witnessed at this venue in the previous 24 hours.

However, in the context of... well, what this actual is - a day of mostly Irish performers selected by Belfast boy Peter Wilson - Dukebox is still an absolute treat and a total success.

As for Duke Specials headline set - apart from everything else, it's a pretty precise reminder that with two great records under his belt, Duke Special has more than enough tricks up his sleeve to justify a headline slot at the country's biggest music festival. Opening with the delicate 'Slip of a Girl', performed without a band, is quite brave - but it totally sets the tone. Peter Wilson owns this crowd.


He also has the respect of his peers - Katie Richardson from Katie & The Carnival is the first of a handful of local musicians to wander onstage - helping out with both vocals and dance moves on 'Sweet Sweet Kisses', which now incorporates two huge umbrellas.  'Brixton Leaves' works particularly well in the open air, soaring across the cold night sky - the first of a few epic and memorable moments. 'No Cover Up' is along shortly to remind us that Duke Special is at his best not with the theatrics, but when quiet and reflective.

'The Jockey Club (A B*tch called Wanda)' encourages the kind of vaguely daft ragtime jiving we may require to stay alive during such weather (seriously, it was freezing!!) while the dark, messed up Jazz of 'Nothing Comes Easy' is the highlight of the entire set/day - making great use of both Duke's saxophonist and the invisible keyboardist (you had to be there) at the back of the stage.

The highlight: Apart from 'Nothing Comes Easy', Duke playing 'the hits' at the end and finally riling up a very reserved gathering.

'Freewheel' is performed solo and allowed to breathe, while 'Our Love Goes Deeper' and 'Last night I Nearly Died' force our hero into the crowd and among the people who have put him here.

In short - a triumph. It needed to be.

Belsonic 09 - The Magic Numbers

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ATL | 23:07 UK time, Saturday, 29 August 2009

Describe in a tweet:

We are family, we got all our magic brothers and sisters with us, as we count down to the Duke.


What went down: 

It's a safe and solid set from these GBOL (great bunch of lads) - pleasant guitars with country and gospel tinges.  It's not going to change the face of music, but coming to the end of Belsonic, this is perfect to keep this older, well behaved crowd happy. They'll dance to 'Love Me Like You' and act as a gospel choir to new song 'Hurt So Good'.  It's all a great big happy hug..

The highlight:

It has to be the closing hoedown, starting off slow before going all southern fried county rock in a jam.

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