2006 was a life changing year for me. I was getting married. Getting married meant less gigs to go to as priorities focused on getting the wedding sorted, honeymoon, etc but it didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be any gigs to go to. Just less and picking the ones you wanted to go to and could afford.
Having said that both myself and Gillian loved music and she still wanted to go to gigs as much as I did so it was a case of sorting out which ones to go to and which ones to give a miss.
First up for the new year was The Strokes. This was their third visit to Belfast and their second at the Ulster Hall. I first saw Strokes when they played the Limelight back in August 2001 when nobody heard of them. The first time they played the Ulster Hall was around the time of their second album, Room on Fire and they sold out the Ulster Hall quite quickly.
With the release of First Impressions of Earth in 2005, they were back in Belfast in the new year. A really enjoyable gig you could tell they had improved so much from the Limelight gig.
Next up was the NME Awards Tour. This was the first time it had come to Belfast. I had been to previous shows in both Dublin and London that NME hosted so it was a big deal when they brought it to Belfast which I think was for the first and only time.
2006 was the year that NME were championing new bands and for this tour they put together the following line up – Maximo Park, Arctic Monkeys, We are Scientists and Mystery Jets.
It was quite a good line up. Can’t remember much about Mystery Jets but We are Scientists were quite good but for the final two bands, Artic Monkeys and Maximo Park you were left wondering did the organisers schedule the bands in the right order?
It was strange to see lots of people leave after the Arctic Monkeys set. They were really good and it was great to see them after missing their Limelight debut the previous year.
For those of us that stayed on we were treated to a really good set by Maximo Park but as usual it ended up that Arctic Monkeys would go on to further success and bigger venues.
A Valentines treat brought us to see Snow Patrol play an intimate and perhaps final gig at a small venue. After the Ulster Hall gig in 2004 I thought I would never see a better Snow Patrol show but this gig was showcasing the new material from Eyes Open ahead of it’s release.
We were really witnessing the band on the way to something big. Chasing Cars had made its live debut the year before when they supported U2 at Croke Park and it would also result it being our song of choice for our first dance too.
Sadly this would also result in me going off the band as you will read later on when we get to see Snow Patrol hit the arenas later.
Another treat for Gillian was a chance to see Bon Jovi in Dublin. This was at Croke Park when they brought the Have a Nice Day tour to Ireland. At one time I did like Bon Jovi. Still have a 7″ single of Living on a Prayer.
After that I had lost interest in them and with grunge on its way I had totally stopped listening to them. But having said that Gillian liked them and wanted to see them so I took her down to Dublin to see them.
She really enjoyed it but I didn’t. Just felt like safe painting by numbers rock music. Sadly they were supported by Nickleback which just made it worst for me. A truly awful band who think they are a grunge band but they are not.
A few days after this gig I went to see Editors at Mandela Hall. Another new band breaking through they released their album, The Back Room the year before and were slowly but surely making their mark the charts.
My friend David came over from London for the gig and at the time neither of us managed to get a ticket but we eventually managed to get hold of tickets. It was a really good gig but I really didn’t get into them as much after the first album. My one and only Editors gig.
One gig I would definitely not be missing was a Therapy? gig. Rarely have I missed a gig by them since Sunstroke 94. The less said about that one the better as that was one hell of a line up and I wasn’t at it!
The gig at the Spring and Airbrake was part of the Limelight complex beside Katy Daly’s. In a way it was going to host bigger gigs than the smaller Limelight. All three venues would be hosting bands all day.
Therapy? headlined a show here in support of Alternative Ulster magazine which was celebrating it’s third birthday. The gig took place early in the afternoon with loads of bands playing from the local scene.
I wasn’t able to get down to all of it but managed to see Fighting With Wire, La Faro and In Case of Fire. Therapy? had just put out a new album, One Cure Fits All and played a really brilliant set.
Gillian’s cousin Ian was a bit of a metal head and we both like a lot of bands from the same genre. He had never been to a gig before so in quick succession we got to see both Metallica and Deftones.
Metallica were touring and doing Master of Puppets in its entirety for its anniversary year. They were heading Download and that summer Download brought some of the headliners over to Dublin. Both Metallica and Guns N’Roses would headline separate days at the RDS.
Support for Metallica came from Avenged Sevenfold and Alice in Chains. I was more interested in seeing Alice in Chains and felt they should have been higher up the bill. They had just reformed and William Duvail was the new singer. He was no Layne Staley and nor was he mean to replace him in that way. They were amazing to see and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Metallica were in fine form doing a greatest hits set either side of playing Master of Puppets in full. It was great to see the band do this.
The following month we would head down to Mandela Hall to see Deftones.
Ian was more into them than I was but I really enjoyed it and it was a great gig. They were a brilliant live band.
With the wedding coming up I had a small matter of a stag do to go on. My ideal stag weekend would have been Reading Festival but that was never going to happen. However before my stag was sorted after nearly 20 odd years trying I finally got a ticket to see Pearl Jam who were coming to Dublin in August. Wedding or no wedding, I am going to this gig. Not so according to my friends as the gig was on a Thursday and I was flying to Barcelona on the Friday morning for the weekend so they were being practically and didn’t think it was a good idea to try it. Sadly I sold my ticket on. I was raging as I was so determined to go. Pearl Jam would have to wait for a couple of more years.
After coming home from honeymoon, my first gig without the wife coming along to was to see Muse at the Odyssey Arena.
This was Muse jumping up into the big league after their debut Belfast visit to the Ulster Hall in 2004.
Muse had released Black Holes and Revelations which was one of my favourite Muse albums. Normally I dread going to a big venue for a gig but for this one Muse nailed it. They literally blew the roof off the Odyssey Arena. It was amazing to see a band of just three members making a hell of a racket! I thought the Ulster Hall gig in 2004 was epic. This gig was even better.
The first big gig we went to together after getting married was to see Bruce Springsteen in Belfast. This was Bruce’s second visit to Belfast. I first time he played Belfast was at the King’s Hall in 1996 when he done the solo acoustic tour.
This was a tour of a difference as it wasn’t a solo tour and the E Street Band weren’t involved. Bruce released the Seeger Sessions album which was Springsteen’s first and so far only album of entirely non-Springsteen material and contains his interpretation of thirteen folk music songs made popular by activist folk musician Pete Seeger.
The tour came to Belfast on 21 November and it sold out very quickly. This was one of my favourite Springsteen gigs. I think it took a lot of people by surprise as quite a lot of people in the audience were expecting him to do the hits. There was some Springsteen material in the setlist but not the obvious ones. The show ended with a rousing rendition of American Land followed by We Shall Overcome. An outstanding gig.
After two big gigs at the Odyssey it was back down to earth to the Spring and Airbrake to see the Undertones. I was too young to see them when they were out back in the late 70s/early 80s and they had broken up by the time I got to secondary school. Fergal Sharkey went solo and the O’Neill brothers went on to form That Petrol Emotion.
The band reformed in 1999 with Paul McLoone replacing Fergal Sharkey as he didn’t want to be involved in the reunion. Having never seen the Understones with Sharkey as vocalist this was new ground for me and McLoone was definitely the perfect replacement and front man.
He had a great stage presence and great vocal delivery. I really enjoyed the gig and it was really great to hear all the old tunes live as I would never have thought that I would get to see this band.
Rounding up the year was another visit to the Odyssey Arena to see Snow Patrol. I didn’t get standing tickets for this one as Gillian wanted to sit down for it and so it was going to be sitting tickets.
After previous gigs at Mandela Hall, The Ulster Hall and even the festivals this was Snow Patrol finally hitting the big time with the tour promoting their new album, Eyes Open. This was a the album that finally turned them into stars and for me it was a the beginning of the end which was kind of sad.
For me the gig was wrong for so many reasons. I was excited to see that The Frames were supporting but the abuse they got from the front row was unforgiveable. Everybody down there just wanted Snow Patrol. On top of that they struggled with a lot technical issues and it was fair play to Glen Hansard who tried to keep things going.
The Frames finally left the stage and it was the turn of Snow Patrol to hit the stage as conquering heroes. The gig leaned heavily on both Eyes Open and Final Straw but they did a few older songs which sparked a mass exodus to the bar. I was on my feet for these songs only to be told off by some people behind me objecting to me standing up and asked me to sit down as they paid money to see this show.
Not wanting to start and argument or fight I just sat down but it was quite ironic that the same people who told me to sit down got up to sing and dance to two songs later on!