2004 – January to June

The new year didn’t kick off with the traditional NME tour in 2004.  There wasn’t one coming to Ireland that year so January was a very quiet month for gigs.

February turned out to a be a busy month.  First up was a visit by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to Mandela Hall.BRMC (2)

BRMC had just put out their third album Howl and it was good to see them back in Belfast.  They always put on a good show and post-millennium they have been one of my favourite bands.  I would look forward to seeing them again in the future.

The following evening  I went along to the Limelight to catch the Ataris.  ATARIS (2)I had picked up their album So Long, Astoria after listening to one of their tracks on free CD given away by Kerrang magazine and I liked what I heard.  Free CDs on magazines back then were good ways of checking out a band if you were not sure if you would like them before investing your money into buying the record or CD back in the day.  They were a good band and I really liked them.

At the end of February, it was time for Muse to make their Belfast debut.  I had been listening to Muse since picking up Showbiz and they have been firm favourites of mine.  Having previously seen them live in Dublin I was really looking forward to their first visit to Belfast.MUSE (2)

Their third album, Absolution had been released in 2003 and is one of my favourite albums.  This gig at the Ulster Hall was just astounding.  Quite possibly the best gig I have seen there and I have been to quite a few.  If I was going to do a top 10 favourite Ulster Hall gigs poll this one would definitely be up there.

There were a couple of gigs in March, one around my birthday as Hundred Reasons came back to Belfast to play the Limelight. HUNDRED REASONS (2) It was good to see them back in Belfast again.  Their rise went from Limelight to Mandela and then back to the Limelight.  This would be the last time I would get to see the band.

A couple of days later, Snow Patrol would play Mandela Hall.  Prior to the release of Final Straw the band had put out the first single from the album, Spitting Games in 2003 which hadn’t done very well.

The second single Run released in February 2004 suddenly became a sleeper hit and propelled the band to stardom.  The gig at Mandela Hall showcased the band on the way up.SNOW PATROL MANDELA (2)

I have to admit this was a very good gig.  I don’t speak highly of the band now which is a discussion for another blog down the line but those early gigs are definitely the memorable ones.

Look at the price of it too! £10 was quite cheap!

April was also a busy month of gigs with Ash being the band to see more than once!  First up was a trip to Dublin to see the band play at Temple Bar Music Centre.  This was like Dublin’s version of the Limelight and it was a very good venue.  Support came from fellow Northerners, The Answer who were different to Ash in terms of their style.  They were very much in the classic rock vein but were fantastic live.

A few days later the band played a surprise show at their hometown in Downpatrick as part of their 10th anniversary.  The gig took place in Downpatrick Arts Centre.

Support for the Downpatrick gig came from a local band from their old school which Mark Hamilton was managing.  Their name escapes me but I definitely remember they had a nu-metal edge to their sound.  Even played Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name complete with swearing and their parents were in the audience!

Last gig of April was a visit to my first ever gig in Lisburn at the Island Arts Centre to see Derry’s finest band since the Undertones, Jetplane Landing who were doing a gig to promote Alternative Ulster Magazine.JETPLANE LANDING (2)

I was a big fan of Cuckoo who released a fantastic album in the 1990s.  From the ashes of Cuckoo came Jetplane Landing who were brilliant.  I spoke to Andrew Ferris at the gig telling him how much I liked Cuckoo and he was pretty pleased to hear that. Support came from local bands Torgas Valley Reds and Yazuka.

Celebrating 10 years of Ash continued during the month of May with a trip over to London to see them.  ASH LONDON (2)It was a good excuse to head over to London for the weekend and visit some friends.  We got tickets to see Ash at the Carling Apollo in Hammersmith which was a wonderful Art Deco venue in London and was the biggest London gig the band had done to date.  A brilliant venue to see Ash and they were in great form.

The month of June was pretty busy too.  First up was a visit to Dublin to see Red Hot Chili Peppers at Phoenix Park.  Now I wasn’t too impressed with their show at Landsdown Road a few years previously and this gig was no exception.RCHP (2)

Main draw for me was Pixies who had just reformed and were doing a reunion tour.  Tickets were hard to get for these shows so I settled for seeing the band as support to Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Definitely wasn’t the best time to see them as you could hardly get anywhere near the main stage to really enjoy it.  To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

Anyway back to Red Hot Chili Peppers and this was really a big low as far as going to gigs was concerned.  The band were terrible and it felt like a completely phoned in performance.  The audience wasn’t much better either as quite a lot of people didn’t know any of the older songs they performed and would end up building human pyramids.  Needless to say this put me off the band and I have never went to see them again.

Brushing off the disappointment from that gig, a few days later New Zealand’s The Datsuns came to Belfast for the first time bringing their garage rock racket to the Limelight.  Now this was a better gig. DATSUNS (2)

I finally got to fill the final piece of the Big Four jigsaw when I got to see metal legends Anthrax at the Ulster Hall.

Having previously seen Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, it was Anthrax who were the one band that alluded me and it was great to see them live at last although this wasn’t quite the original line up.  ANTHRAX (2)

Final gig of the month was My Morning Jacket at the Limelight.  This was my first attempt at trying to listen to alt-country or Americana as it is normally known as.














2002 – June to December

The second part of the blog takes in the second half of the year.  2002 shaped up to be a pretty busy year for gigs, so to make it a bit easier to read I decided to split 2002 three ways and keep the festivals on a separate page (4 festivals to cover this time!).

Ok, first up is the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I must admit that I am not their biggest fan but have seen them twice now.  The second gig will be covered at a later date.  Anyway, I was more into Faith No More than the Chili Peppers.  Missed a chance to see them in 1993 at Sunstroke.  That was the year they pulled out and Faith No More replaced them and missed them again the following year 1994 at same festival which I am told was one of their best gigs.

Red Hot Chilli PeppersLansdowne Road was the venue for their Dublin show for the 2002 tour.  Kenny and myself went down for this and we ended up in the south terrace which was probably behind where the rugby goal posts were.

Support came from New Order which I was excited to see.  Sadly they didn’t live up to my expectations and they were pretty awful.

The same can also be said for the Chili Peppers.  They were truly awful on the day.  Definitely the most phoned in performance I had seen.  1/10 for effort guys!  Sadly I would give them another chance but we will find out how they fared at later date.

Witnness 2002 is covered in the festivals section but one of the bands from that weekend ventured north a few days later to the Limelight.Rival Schools

Rival Schools were considered godfathers of the emerging emo scene that was coming through.  I caught their set at Witnness and they were a brilliant band to watch.

The gig in Limelight was great too.  They are a band I would love to see again.


The first Tennent’s Vital took place in September at Botanic Gardens.  Again I will cover this one as part of the festivals blog.

October was a pretty busy month for gigs.  First up was Queens of the Stone Age at the Ambassador Theatre.  Queens of the Stone Age

This was the first time I had seen the band on Irish soil after getting to see them at the Reading festival in 2000.  I think they were due to play Belfast in 2001 at the Limelight but pulled out.  No idea what the reason was.

A band at the peak of their powers, Songs for the Deaf was one of my favourite albums that year.  With guest vocals from Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters taking a time out to drum on this album, you can guess that I am really looking forward to this gig.  To say you had seen Dave Grohl drum in two different bands would have been great.

Standing tickets were pretty hard to get so I settled for a sitting ticket.  A rarity but I done it before.

A fantastic gig, I was dripping in sweat and that was being in a seat.  I think pretty much anybody around me were headbanging like mad!  Sadly Dave wasn’t on board the tour for this one as he got the Foo Fighters back together and was going on the road with them.  Mark Lanegan would come on stage at several points when he was called upon for vocal duties.

Hundred Reasons returned to Belfast following their sell out show at the Limelight back in May.  This time they played at Mandela Hall with support coming from the remaining members from At The Drive In, who went on to form Sparta.

JJ72 made a return visit also to Belfast as part of the Queens Festival that autumn.  They were promoting their second album at the Limelight.

The last three gigs of the year all involved a trip down to Dublin.

Dave Grohl did come to Dublin this time but brought his own band with him!  This was the first Foo Fighters gig at the Point Theatre.  Foo FightersThey had just released One By One and this was the biggest venue at the time I had seen the band play.

A few days later I would be back in Dublin again to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  A band becoming a firm favourite for me I first them at the Ambassador Theatre on the NME Brat Tour the year before. BRMC

Again another highlight from Witnness 2002 which I will go into a bit more detail in festivals.

They played at the Olympia Theatre which is one of my favourite Dublin venues and were awesome.

Manic Street Preachers brought their Forever Delayed tour to Dublin in December with support from Ian Brown. Manic Street Preachers

Last time I saw Ian Brown was the Big Day Out in Galway in 1998.  Still wasn’t any better this time round.

A tour with a difference as this was basically a Manic Street Preachers greatest hits setlist.  Kind of ticked all the boxes and played all the songs you wanted to hear with no encore.  Result!









2002 – January to May

For this blog I am going to break it down due to the amount of gigs that year.  This first part covers January to May and the second part will cover June to December.

The first gig of the new year was one of sheer impulse.  Jimmy Eat World were due to support Blink 182 on their European tour which was to start in January.  Blink 182 pulled their entire European tour that year leaving Jimmy Eat World with a void to fill so they put on their own shows.

I had just got into the after hearing Bleed American which they got retitled Jimmy Eat World following the events of 9/11.

Jimmy Eat World 1I took a chance and got a ticket for their gig at Temple Bar Music Centre (now the Button Factory).  It was an amazing gig and definitely one well worth travelling down for.

There was one casualty at this gig…my glasses!

They went skyward and hit the floor.  Mad panic ensued as I tried to relocate them.  I managed to get them but they ended up in such a state that I had to get a new pair.  The joy of venturing into the moshpit.

Within a few short weeks I would be down in Dublin again.  This time NME brought the Brat Tour to Ireland for the first time.

NME Brat Tour

Again NME picked their tips for the new year and it was quite a mixed back.  Party rocker Andrew WK headlined with support from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lostprophets and The Coral.  A very diverse line up.  Out of all the bands, the stand out for me was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who I would get to see more than any other band on the bill here.

The Charaltans

There was one gig in February of that year and a lot more closer to home for a change.  The Waterfront was a strange venue for such an iconic band like the The Charlatans.  This was the first time I had got to see them in Belfast and they did not disappoint.

I had a birthday gig in March which was a trip over to Glasgow to see the mighty Weezer.  They have been one of my favourite bands and it was great to see them live indoors for a change.


Support was to come from American band Remy Zero, famous for their theme song to the Superman origins series Smallville.

They didn’t turn up and were replaced by local band Biffy Clyro who according to my Glasgow friend Colin “are shite”.   Wonder if he still feels about them this way now?

Weezer were brilliant and this was one of my favourite shows in the famous Barrowland.

April saw Gomez make a return visit to Belfast, this time playing at Mandela Hall.


May was the start of the crazy month.  Lots of gigs but none quite like doing six in one week!

It all started on the May bank holiday weekend.  First up was Rocket From The Crypt at Conor Hall.

RFTCThis was my first and only visit to Conor Hall which was part of the Art College in Belfast.  Quite a few famous bands have graced the stage here like Radiohead.  Rocket From The Crypt were amazing.  It was great to see them in my home city having previously seen them in London the year before.

The following evening Evan Dando did a solo gig at the Limelight.

Evan Dando

A fantastic performance by Evan who for a change wasn’t stoned out of his head!  It was great to hear a mixture of solo stuff as well as some classic Lemonheads.

So two gigs down, four to go.  The next two were going to be in Dublin so it was going to be a weekend stay for the Heineken Green Energy Festival at Dublin Castle.

Saturday night was headlined up The White Stripes which was their biggest gig in Ireland since their debut at the Witnness Festival the year before.  Their support all came from Detriot and all friends of the band – The Von Bondies, The Dirtbombs and the Detriot Cobras.

Now the second ticket is going to cause a bit of confusion as I have mentioned that I am in Dublin for two gigs at Dublin Castle.  The second ticket which has The Hives at the Ambassador was my original ticket and then Muse got announced for Dublin Castle.  As there was no ticket exchange, The Hives were added to the Dublin Castle bill and their headline slot was cancelled.

I was really excited for this one as the Hives were my new favourite band at the time.  They were good but I would get to see them in Belfast which was a better gig.

Muse put on a good show but they were touring Origin of Symmetry which was the follow up to Showbiz but the crowd were having none of it and wanted to hear the first album.  Go figure, I think the second album was better but we Irish audiences can be a right fickle bunch.

So on the Monday it is time to go home and no time to rest either as the six day gig fest is coming to a close!

The last two nights would be a trip to the Limelight twice.  Monday saw the Hives bring their maniac brand of rock and roll to Belfast.  Having seen them in Dublin the night before this gig was one of my favourite ever in the Limelight.  They brought immense joy to their performance and I came away from that gig with a big grin on my face feeling that I had just witnessed an incredible performance.  Sadly the Hives never graced our city again following this show.

Tuesday night and I was wrecked.  I think by day six it had taken it’s toll on me with the travel and standing around.  Considering that I don’t drink I was still knackered.   Maybe this was one gig too many.  Can’t remember too much about Ikara Colt apart from NME hyping them up.  Of all the gigs this was not the best attended of the bunch.  I could have done with a night off!

I had a few weeks break from gigging until the end of May when it started all over again.

Another trip to Dublin and this time Jimmy Eat World returned to the city to play at the Ambassador.

Jimmy Eat World 2

Their popularity was building so it was only a matter of time before they would move up to the bigger venues.

I enjoyed the gig but still think the first one was something special.  This time however my glasses remained intact and didn’t get smashed.

Another trip south brought me to Ozzfest at Punchestown Race Course.  I will cover this on the festivals blog.

Finally, last gig of the month went to Hundred Reasons.

Hundred Reasons Limelight

They were enjoying chart success with their debut album, Ideas Above Our Station and were part of the new wave of Britrock that was breaking through at the time.  Championed by the likes of Melody Maker, they hit the Limelight but it wouldn’t be their last visit to Belfast as they got popular they would be back later on in the year.