The new year bring me over to London for the first of two NME gigs in the city at the iconic Astoria venue.
I was staying with friends in London that weekend and got them tickets for the second night which was the NME tour show. This was the first time I had ever done the NME tour.
First night was done on my own. I got to see And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead.
This amazing gig include support from the awesome Rocket From The Crypt and the then unknown band from New York, The Strokes.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead were amazing live. A very riotus affair which resulted in a finale that saw the band literally giving away their gear to the crowd. Saw someone walking off with bits of the drumkit. Unreal!
The following night was the main event, the NME tour finale had finally hit London. For this year they picked their tips for the future by putting on your four very diverse and different bands.
The differences couldn’t be more obvious. Starsailor and Alfie both described as indie bands, Amen from America were the most metal band on the bill and Irish trio JJ72 who were very much influenced by Joy Division.
It was an enjoyable gig. You could feel the floor caving in when Amen hit the stage. They were so loud.A few days later I would catch Amen again this time at the Limelight.
This gig was as equally loud as the Astoria one.
For this one I stayed more towards the back reluctant to be caught up in the moshpits at the front as it was getting a bit wild down there.
The Pixies were a band that I never got to see. I remember telling one of my work colleagues that I was listening to Nirvana and he mentioned that he liked the Pixies and thought I would too. I borrowed both Bossanova and Doolittle and was blown away. Sadly got into them too late and I think I did miss a gig at the Ulster Hall in the early 90s.
So Frank Black came to Dublin in February and I had to go to that one.
Post-Pixies, Frank Black has had a very successful solo career. With this backing band, The Catholics they took to the Vicar Street venue in Dublin. This was to become one of my favourite venues in Dublin. It was such an intimate gig.
Never did I think I would hear some of the Pixies tunes that he did play that night. I would eventually get to see The Pixies play when they reformed a few years later.
Following the success of the NME tour, JJ72 did a headline slot at the Olympia in February and then they did support for the Manic Street Preachers at Smithfield in Dublin in May.
For my 30th birthday, I had the never ending birthday with celebrations in both Belfast and London. I made my first visit to Brixton Academy which was a venue I had always wanted to go to.
The Manic Street Preachers had just done a very short tour promoting their new album at the time Know Your Enemy following a visit to Cuba where they played for the first time.
Having seen Nirvana in 1992, I was intrigued with the idea that there would be a tribute band for them.
The Australian Nirvana came to the Limelight in April.
They put on a good show. For many in the audience it might have been the closest they would get to hearing Nirvana live.
Don’t think they were as popular as the Australian Pink Floyd.
My friend Helen was dating a guy from Glasgow called Colin. She knew we would both immediately hit off with each other as he was big into music and going to see bands. Colin invited me over to Glasgow to catch Ash in the iconic Barrowlands.
This was an amazing venue. The atmosphere was electric and the crowd were really up for it. We couldn’t get to the front but when Ash hit the stage a huge tidal wave of bodies from the back was taking us in the direction of the front. Definitely one of the best music venues I have ever been too.
I got to see metal legends Motorhead who played the Ulster Hall.
Was great to see them live. They were loud, fast and amazing. Was great to see them.
Also saw the Beta Band on the strength of only one song which was used in the High Fidelity movie. They did a show at the Limelight.
Just before festival season, Witnness put on a promotional gig at the Empire showcasing Sparklehorse, Ed Harcourt and Gemma Hayes who would be playing Witnness during the summer.
I went to see And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead again for the first time in Belfast.
This was another fantastic gig by the band. No instruments left this venue like their appearance at the Astoria.
The Empire was quite an amazing venue to see them.
The Strokes made their Belfast debut at the Limelight which was definitely not the most packed out gig I have been too. I don’t know if anybody knew of it but it wasn’t sold out. After this they got bigger and were heading to the larger venues.
I went to two festivals that summer which will be the subject of a separate blog, 2001 Festivals which will follow this one.
September 2001 was quite a dark month. Following the aircraft attacks in America on 11 September many bands were pulling tours following the terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon. I had a ticket to see Radiohead at the Odyssey in Belfast which took place 3 days later.
I really thought this gig was going to get pulled. It was hard to find out information on what was actually going to happen but the gig eventually went ahead.
Radiohead continued where they left off from the big top tour the year before.
They insisted on a blackout of any of the corporate sponsorship that was situated around the area which was also home to the Belfast Giants ice hockey team.
The month of October was quite busy from 1/10 to 4/10, there gigs in the space of those days. Got to see Elbow at the Limelight who remembered there performance at Witnness from the summer. This was the only time I have ever seen them and they went on to bigger venues after this.
A quick trip to Dublin two days later took me to the Ambassador Theatre which was situated at the top of O’Connell Street. A really great venue, they hosted Mercury Rev. Was a good gig but not as good as the Limelight one in 1999.
No chance for a breather back to Belfast and another gig. Shed Seven took to the stage in the Limelight. Went along to see what they were like. I quite liked some of their songs so wouldn’t say I was a huge fan. What I remember from this gig was the guy at the front row who kept holding up their latest CD for lead singer, Ricky Witter to sign. He was quite persistent that during the gig he eventually took the CD off him and signed it on stage!
Went to see Stereophonics play at the Odyssey for the first time.
Support came from Feeder who blew them away. Stereophonics on the other hand were becoming very bland and boring. This was the point that I started to go off them. The third album really killed it for me and I never listened to them since.November was also a very busy month for gigs.
The Frames came to the Limelight at the start of the month. It was great to see them in a really good venue.
The really long weekend too place at the end of the month. Three gigs in a row.
First up was a new event that was introduced to St George’s Market in Belfast for the first time promoted by Orange, called Enjoy Music. For £5 you got to see Embrace and two local bands Snow Patrol and Payola. Quite a bargain.
Following that it was two night stint at the Empire which was becoming one of my favourite venues in Belfast. Will have to do a wee poll sometime to see what other people think.
Anyway, David Kitt was first. Was familiar with some of this stuff after seeing him at Witnness. Apart from this gig I can’t remember anything else about it.
Was really excited to see Mark Lanegan for the first time. The one Seattle band that I never got to see was his old band, Screaming Trees. I got into them thanks to the Singles soundtrack for the Cameron Crowe romcom to the backdrop of the early Seattle scene. Mark Lanegan has such an amazing voice. You just stand in amazement listening to him. He doesn’t do too much banter on stage more lets music do the talking.
This brings us to a close with the traditional December Christmas gigs by two of my favourite bands, Therapy? and Ash.
Therapy? done a show at Mandela Hall which I think was the first time they played their since their debut in the 90s.
The next two gigs were back to back gigs at the Ulster Hall by Ash.
This was the first time I had done back to back gigs with the same band.
Ash were ending the year on a high after the rebirth of the band following the release of Free All Angels.
I got a ticket for the first night and then a second night was put on and I went and bought another ticket. Why not?
Both very memorable gigs and sadly this would be the last time that Ash would headline a show at this venue. They would be back for other shows but this was definitely the end of the headline slots. As always the Christmas gigs were a bit special and this was no exception.