There used to be an old gig diary ad in NME years ago that you could go to a gig every night of the week.
Well this day in 2002 I literally done that by going to six gigs in a row. I was just one short of making it seven.
By this stage I think I had too much time on my hands. I was still single, and all my gigging friends had moved to London to work so that didn’t leave too many friends back in Belfast who shared the same music tastes.
So, I ended up going to gigs on my own which broke a taboo that I had because I always felt self-conscious about myself and didn’t want to go to gigs on myself. The pattern used to follow with friends along the lines of “do you want to go and see such and such a band?” which they would reply “not interested or don’t like them” sort of answer. Result – missed out on loads of gigs during the 1990s because I didn’t want to go on my own.
That all changed by 1999 as we were about to hit the new millennium my gig buddy friends were relocating to work in London. There would be advantages of that too as I would soon be making regular trips to London for gigs.
So, in 2002 I went to six gigs. All by myself and two of them in Dublin. And this is how it all started.
Thursday 2 May 2002
Rocket from The Crypt – Conor Hall, Belfast
This was my one and only visit to what was the Art College which was part of the University of Ulster. Many bands including Radiohead, Buzzcocks, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, The Wedding Present, Lush and Therapy? have all played here. One band that was scheduled to play there was to be Nirvana on 9 December 2001. There was a lot of dates that got cancelled from the winter European tour including both Irish shows at McGonagles in Dublin and Conor Hall in Belfast. By the time they came back to Ireland the following year they would play the bigger venues like The Point Depot and King’s Hall.
Back to Rocket from the Crypt, they stopped by Belfast for a show here at Conor Hall touring their new album, Group Sounds. I had seen the band the previous year at the Astoria in London and they were brilliant live.
There haven’t been any gigs on the campus in years and it has since then been redeveloped. From what I remember about the gig, it was a great venue and I wish I had seen a few more bands here.
Friday 3 May 2002
Evan Dando – Limelight, Belfast
I loved The Lemonheads back in the 1990’s but I was late getting into them. I only discovered them when they released It’s a Shame About Ray in 1992. Little did I know that they had been to Belfast the year before in the Ulster Hall.
However, this was an Evan Dando solo gig and not billed as a Lemonheads show but he done a mixture of solo material and played some well-known Lemonheads songs to the delight of the sold-out crowd.
Saturday 4 May 2002
The White Stripes, Dublin Castle
Time to hit the road to Dublin for two gigs which were part of the Heineken Green Energy Festival which traditionally takes place over the May Bank Holiday weekend throughout various venues in Dublin.
First up was The White Stripes at Dublin Castle who were touring their album White Blood Cells. I first saw them at Witnness 2001 where they played in a tent the previous summer.
This was my first visit to Dublin Castle which is in Dame Street and is literally just across the road from the Olympia Theatre. There is a rich history about the place as this was the seat of the British government’s administration in Ireland until 1921. Usually hosts the inauguration of each President of Ireland and other State receptions so it was a unique setting for a gig.
The concert was outdoors in the courtyard and The White Stripes brought their own handpicked support bill with The Von Bondies, The Dirtbombs and The Detroit Cobras. It was a fantastic show and the band had come a long way since their Irish debut at Witnness in the tent.
Sunday 5 May 2002
Muse and The Hives – Dublin Castle.
By the time I had bought a ticket for The Hives they were down for a headline show at the Ambassador Theatre at the top of O’Connell Street. This venue was originally one of Dublin’s longest running cinemas from 1897 up until 1999. Between 2001 and 2008 it hosted gigs and I have been to quite a few here.
When Muse got announced for Dublin Castle on same day that The Hives were to play the Ambassador for some reason the promoters changed things and The Hives ended up as support to Muse. Both bands were enjoying a high profile at the time.
Muse were touring their new album Origin of Symmetry from 2001 and sold-out Dublin Castle in no time. Whilst in Dublin, I took the opportunity to visit my friend Seamus who lived in Dublin and called round to see him before heading to the gig.
By the time I got to the gig, the front row was completely full and there was an extra barrier. I can’t remember if that was the same set up from the previous night as I was closer to the stage for The White Stripes.
Both bands were amazing live, but I thought The Hives would have been better indoors. I wouldn’t be disappointed as I also had a ticket to see them in Belfast!
Monday 6 May 2002
The Hives – Limelight, Belfast
After staying overnight in Dublin, it was time to make the journey back to Belfast for gig number five. A much smaller venue than what they were originally supposed to play in Dublin, from an old cinema to a castle courtyard, the Limelight was the perfect place to see the band. It was very sweaty, and everybody had a great time. People were leaving with grins on their faces. It was like you had just witnessed the best concert you have ever been too. The band didn’t disappoint, and I enjoyed this set more than the previous night in Dublin. One of the best gigs I have been to the in the Limelight.
Tuesday 7 May 2002
Ikara Colt – Limelight, Belfast
By the time I got to day six I was knackered. Being out for the five previous nights had taken its toll on me and I was just tired by this stage. Ikara Colt released Chat and Business in 2002 and were influenced by the likes of Sonic Youth and The Fall.
Support from the evening came from The Parkinson’s originally from Portugal but based in London. NME compared them to The Stooges and called them “Europe’s snotty, messed up answer to The Strokes.
From what I remember about the gig it was the only one that I had been too over the six days that wasn’t sold out. Think it was quite a sparse crowd attending this. Even the support act was a bit intimidating coming off the stage and mingling with the crowd! By the end of the night, I think I left feeling a bit indifferent probably the one gig of the six nights that I didn’t enjoy as much.
Since then, I have never quite hit the same heights of numerous gigs like that again. Last time it would be four nights when the MTV music awards came to Belfast in 2011 and there was lots happening around the city for that. Now I settle for one gig and maybe two as a bonus!