“Do you remember the first time? I can’t remember a worse time But you know that we’ve changed so much since then Oh yeah, We’ve grown” sang Jarvis Cocker on Pulp’s hit single Do You Remember The First Time.
This time the blog shifts its focus to all the bands I have seen, the first time round, some good, some bad and somewhat were you thinking of.
The first task was to download my entire music collection from A to Z. Take out all of the bands that I had never seen and just leave the ones there that I had seen.
Venue: Limelight, Belfast 11/06/98
Supported Symposium during their 1998 tour. Enjoyed both bands that had a similar vibe.
Venue: King’s Hall, Belfast 27/04/91
This is only AC/DC’s second visit to Belfast. The first was the Highway to Hell tour in 1979 when they played two nights in the Ulster Hall with original signer Bon Scott. Was too young for this one.
Thunderstruck was the first AC/DC song I heard, and I really liked it. It was a big hit at the time and when they came to the King’s Hall and that was the song opener that night.
Tickets back then looked a lot better than the plain boring ones of today or e-tickets.
Support came from the excellent King’s X which remains the only time I have ever seen them.
Venue: Dundonald Ice Bowl 24/10/91
Is this cool? Was a fan of the Groover from Vancouver during my teenage years. Nobody in my class liked him but Reckless was a good album. Then came *that* Robin Hood song. He spent a lot of weeks at no.1 and for me, this was the beginning of the end.
This was his second visit to Northern Ireland. Don’t know how I missed the Maysfield Leisure Centre gig from 1987. Probably didn’t want to go to a gig on my own more like it.
The Waking Up the World tour came to Dundonald Ice Bowl which is on the outskirts of Belfast. He probably would have got the King’s Hall unless it was already booked for something else that night.
This would be the only time I saw him live. He continually tours and visits Belfast but I have never seen him live again after this.
Venue: Academy, Dublin 02/02/15
While not quite grunge, Afghan Whigs were from Cincinnati, Ohio and not Seattle, Washington which didn’t stop the band from signing to Seattle label Sub Pop which included the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney.
Gentlemen was released in 1993, one of the finest alternative rock albums of the 1990s. After that, I kind of forgot about them and the band broke up in 2001. There would be other reunions in 2006, 2011 and 2012. By 2014 they announced they were putting on a new album, their first in 16 years.
Do to the Beast was released in 2014 and after listening to that it sparked my interest in the band again. They came to Dublin in 2015 and I jumped at the chance to head down on see them. It was a great gig and it felt that the band had never gone away.
Alice in Chains
Venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast 06/03/93
1993 was a great time to be alive. The alternative revolution was in full flow and another great band from Seattle was about to hit Belfast. The first time they came to Ireland was supporting Megadeth during the Clash of the Titans tour in 1990. Was raging to have missed that.
Alice in Chains was not quite grunge but fitted in with the scene at that time. They probably had more in common with Soundgarden with their sludgy sound but again it was just the perfect fit.
Layne Staley was a great vocalist, and it was great to have seen him live. He sadly died in 2002.
Dirt was one of my favourite albums from that year and this was Alice in Chains at their peak.
Venue: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow 12/04/03
My friend Colin got tickets for this gig in Glasgow when I was over visiting. American Hi-Fi up to then had released two great albums, their self-titled debut and follow up The Art of Losing.
This Glasgow venue takes its name from the same club that hosted music and comedy in New York but is often referred to as King Tut’s.
Situated in the centre of Glasgow, the venue has hosted many bands that have gone on to bigger things like The Verve, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis etc.
What impressed me about the venue was how tiny the place was. It was amazing.
Anyway, American Hi-Fi was pleased to play here and even name-checked all the famous bands that graced the stage that they were playing on.
Venue: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 04/03/96
This gig is always remembered for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t a bit Tori Amos fan at the time, but my friend David and another friend of ours, Mark were studying in Liverpool at the time.
This was the era of cheap flights, so it was easy to get on a plane and head to England. Previously it was so expensive that the only other alternative was taking the boat over.
What do I remember about this gig? Probably nothing much. Just remember seeing Tori on stage by herself with a piano, it was warm inside, and I fell asleep! I am always reminded about that one by my friends.
And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA)
Venue: Belfast 02/05/09
Following the release of their self-titled debut album, ASIWYFA headlined the Marquee tent at Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival along with their friends from Fighting With Wire.
Hailed as the Big Wam in the Wigwam, the gig was a bit of banter between both label mates from Smalltown America with both bands posting videos challenging each other to a fight to the death! Eek!
Thankfully, it wasn’t bloody but just two good-natured bands having a good time and taking the piss out of each other.
ASIWYFA are stunning live. No vocals, the music does all the talking. Towards the end of their set, the guys from Fighting With Wire joined them onstage for some madcap antics.
The result was a draw!
And You Will Know Us By Trail of Dead
Venue: Reading Festival 2000
The Reading Festival is ideal for finding new bands to like and these guys were no exception. Absolutely crazy on stage. You don’t get to see too many bands trashing their equipment.
Venue: Limelight, Belfast 10/11/12
Anthrax was the one band from the big four that I drifted in and out of. I was familiar with their material, but Belfast always seemed to be off their radar in touring.
They had previously played Belfast before in the 1980s but I wasn’t a fan at the time. I do remember the infamous spitting incident when they played at Bangor Castle Leisure Centre in 1989. Spitting or gobbing was a disgusting thing that punks were spitting at bands. From what I read the band was not too happy about this.
Anthrax didn’t return to Northern Ireland until 2004 which I missed. When I heard they were coming back in 2014 to play the Limelight I got excited and bought tickets for it. After buying the ticket I realised the Limelight is small for a band of Anthrax’s stature, but it turned out that the venue next door, Spring and Airbrake had been renamed the Limelight while the original smaller venue became Limelight 2.
The previous night it was Slayer. I joked that the time that if only Metallica and Megadeth turned up for the other two nights you would have seen the big four all play at the Limelight. Such a dream line up though.
Venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast 25/01/06
NME had made these guys their favourite band the previous year with their indie dance floor anthem I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.
Always one for being on the lookout for bands you want to see before they get big, Arctic Monkeys first Belfast gig was in the smaller Limelight. Uh-oh, another Oasis moment missed as that clashed with a night out with friends and nobody wanted to go and see them.
Fast forward to 2006 and they are on NME curated tour along with Maximo Park, We Are Scientists and Mystery Jets. This was the first time the NME tour had come to Belfast.
Maximo Park were the tour headliners with Arctic Monkeys on before them. This was probably the only gig I have been to where most of the audience had left after Arctic Monkeys finished their set. Not too many people were sticking around for the headliners which was a shame as both bands were excellent that night.
Venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast 30/12/95
This gig at the Ulster Hall is one of my favourite moments of seeing Ash live. Having got into them following their excellent trailer mini-album Trailer in 1994, they had released a trio of hit singles throughout 1995 – Kung Fu, Girl From Mars and Angel Interceptor long before their debut album, 1977 was released in 1996.
The band supported Therapy? for this gig who was leading the way for supporting new Northern Irish bands coming following the success of Nurse and Troublegum.
Therapy? from Ballyclare, Ash came from Downpatrick and on the support bill was Joyrider who hailed from Portadown. None of these bands was from Belfast which was quite diverse and amazing.
Ash was just amazing that night and I have fond memories of this gig. The highlight of the gig was when they played Girl From Mars with a giant cut-out of Princess Leia on stage. The band were big Star Wars fans. The mosh pit just went crazy, and Princess Leia was chucked into the crowd after the song ended. I don’t know if anybody took the prop home with them afterwards, but I doubt it if it was still in one piece.
At The Drive-In
Venue: Empire Music Hall, Belfast 09/12/00
At The Drive-In played their one and only Belfast gig at this legendary venue following the release of the excellent Relationship of Command album.
Probably best described as very frenetic and intense with frontman Cedric Bixler jumping across the stage like a mad man. Bearing in the mind the stage at the Empire is incredibly tiny I was surprised he had the room to do so.
If you ever get a chance check out one of their videos filmed for BBC’s Later With Jools Holland which was recorded before they came over to Belfast. The look on Robbie William’s face is priceless.
I was expecting the floor to explode similarly when the band took to the stage, but Cedric was having none of it as there was a bit of friction between the band and mosh-happy audience members. We were told how to move or dance. Moshing was not on the cards. Think one guy didn’t oblige and was told to leave. Opps.
Venue: Limelight, Belfast 18/02/04
My introduction to the band was thanks to one of the free CDs given away by Kerrang magazine at the time which resulted in me buying their album, So Long Astoria.
Thought it be a good idea to catch them live and they didn’t disappoint. Included in their set was their excellent cover of Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer where they switch the lyrics from The Grateful Dead to Big Black.