After a barren period following Covid, this year marked my return to going back to gigs.
Over the year I got a lot of pleasure archiving all the gigs I have been to over the years using the Concert Archives app.
This fantastic app allows you to enter all the gigs you have been to and include the support bands or festivals. So, looking back, 2020 started off with three gigs before the pandemic started.
2021 saw some sort of normality coming but the one gig I was scheduled to go to was to see Ash just before Christmas. Previously rescheduled from 2020, I never got to the rescheduled one as I wasn’t feeling well and probably just as well, I didn’t get it as there was a Covid outbreak at the gig.
Covid had caused a lot of anxiety for me, and it contributed a bit to my gig anxiety. I wrote a bit about gig anxiety earlier in the year which you are can read here. This was a big deal for me and it was how I was going to cope and overcome it which was the important part.
I was finding myself not being motivated or interested enough to go, being more rather cautious in enclosed spaces. This was not good for my mental health as the music plays a big part in my life.
However, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I had a couple of shows that were rescheduled from 2020/21 to 2022 later in the year.
My friend Paul was a big help in helping me get over that door when it came to gigs. It would usually be me being the one asking if he wanted to go to gigs and now, he was the person that was more enthusiastic than I was!
The first gig back on the scene was to see The Wood Burning Savages at the Ulster Sports Club in May. This was the first big test for me as I hadn’t been out in nearly two years. It wasn’t a packed-out gig as it was a small venue, but we stayed away from the front mostly staying towards the back.
I found it a very liberating experience as it felt good to be back. I spoke to Paul Connelly, lead singer of The Wood Burning Savages after the gig telling him how much I enjoyed the show and that it was good to be back.
The next big test was the outdoor setting for Iron Maiden at Ormeau Park for the Belsonic festival. There was plenty of space to stand around and there was no way we were heading down to the front as it looked pretty packed out.
I met up with some more friends from my parkrun circle – Gerry, Debbs, Paul and Brenda and had a great view without having to go any further. It was a great show and being outdoors made me feel quite comfortable.
I wrote a review of the gig here.
By the end of June, I was attending a gig on my own for the first time in a while. Paul bought tickets for Bob Mould’s debut Belfast show but couldn’t make it. Being a fan of Bob over the years with both Sugar and Husker Du I took what was probably a big step to heading out on my own without any restrictions. Limelight 2 is a very small venue which has hosted many bands who have gone on to bigger things. It was also a very sweaty and loud gig too. Bob Mould played this one solo, just him and his electric guitar. It was quite amazing and loud too.
Things are starting to look good. I am feeling a bit more at ease going back to gigs. Next up is the rescheduled Clutch gig from 2020. I went along with my friend Gerry who was excited about this gig as much as I was. It was a brilliant show and we both managed to get as close to the stage as we could.
My confidence is beginning to grow again, and my next outdoor show is to see Stiff Little Fingers at Custom House Square. I knew some of my work colleagues were going to it but one of them couldn’t make it and passed his ticket on to me. I got down in time to see The Undertones as support and then tried to contact the others but no joy. Turned out they were at the back near the bear tent while I was down at the front.
In September for the first time in ages, it was back-to-back shows again. Paul bought tickets for The Exploited (23rd) and The Lemonheads (25th). Luckily, he didn’t get tickets for The Stranglers on the 24th. Three gigs in a row might have been too much.
Two very different gigs. Paul was a big fan of The Exploited and I knew a couple of their songs, but it was very good. He had never seen The Lemonheads before, but I have seen both Evan Dando solo and The Lemonheads. Can be a bit hit-and-miss at times, but they played a fantastic show playing It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety plus two bonus covers for the locals with Teenage Kicks and Alternative Ulster.
After two years of waiting, we finally both get to see Therapy?’s much-delayed 30th-anniversary show! Having initially had the tickets for this one from 2020, it got rescheduled for 2021 only to be rescheduled again for 2022.
We also had tickets for the Dublin show as well but one of the big things for me post-Covid was the lack of desire to make that trip 100 odd miles down to Dublin. I had a few other reschedule shows for Dublin but didn’t really want to travel at all.
Therapy? treated us to a brilliant show and was worth the two years wait! Don’t leave it too long next time guys! A full review of the gig is available here.
The last gig of 2022 went to Ash. Back at the Ulster Hall headlining for the first time in ages, this 30th anniversary show was special for a lot of reasons. The Ulster Hall was the first place I ever saw them play when they supported Therapy? in 1995. This was also my 31st Ash gig. Great stats are provided on Concert Archives. Maybe I am a tad enthusiastic about this band. Nah, I disagree I just like seeing them live.
We got loads of guest appearances on that night with Barry and Boyd from Backwater joining them onstage, Nathan Connolly from Snow Patrol and Damien O’Neill from The Undertones. Even local actor, Jimmy Nesbitt came onstage to sing Teenage Kicks.
This was a fantastic gig and one of the highlights of the year for me. It was streamed live by BBC and is available on BBC Sounds to watch. You can view the entire show here.
You can read the review of the Ash gig is available here.
Overall, 2022 has been a good year for music. I have seen some great shows and while nine gigs in one year looks small it is good in terms of quality. A lot of shows I didn’t bother going to or didn’t bother about getting tickets but one thing I have learnt from the pandemic is that fear of missing out (FOMO) didn’t bother me at all.
All concerts that I have attended over the years are listed at Concert Archives https://www.concertarchives.org/paul-clarke.