Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
On a Friday night at the Belsonic Festival, Belfast suddenly appeared a vast army of people dressed in army surplus coats, Hawaiian shirts and adorned with bucket hats. It could only mean one thing, that the inimitable Liam Gallagher had arrived.
Parc Ormeau was filling up nicely as the first acts of the evening took place on the vast stage. Sprints come just down the street in Dublin and are not a slow supporting act.
From the very first song to the last Sprints (Colm O’Reilly – guitar, Jack Callan – drums, Sam McCann – bass and Karla Chubb – vocals and guitar) are undoubtedly a high octane pop punk garage band that just picks up superb melody after superb melody. With the likes of “Heavy”, “Modern Job”, “The Cheek” “How’s the story going?” and their new single “Literary Mind”, they immediately won over audiences.
Golden Circle or not, everyone was mesmerized by the melodically rippling punk magic offstage. Karla gave a fantastic vocal delivery that blended perfectly with the alternative punk energy of the guitars, bass and drums as the beats filtered into everyone’s rock soul. The music was one style but felt eclectic and refreshing with reminders to be a more cohesive punk version of Blur – songs that score points while you enjoy it. As they wrapped up their set, the crowd of thousands let out a roar of approval.
Then came the internationally renowned local guys of Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray, otherwise known as Ash. Once again, the crowd was really getting into the music, already confident that it would be a good gig no matter what, even as the clouds threatened to pour over everyone.
As always, Ash did not disappoint as they nailed so many of their tracks like “Shining Light”, Oh Yeah”, “Confessions in the Pool”, “Kung F”, “Orpheus” and “A life less Ordinary”. Among the short banter with the crowd, Tim, Mark and Rick seemed to be in their natural surroundings as they filled the stage with their performance.
They established the natural rhythms and melodies with ease and all reacted alike as crowds of people sang verbatim. It should also be noted that the participants were 16 and it also showed a lot. From the youngest that could be there to the oldest, it was amazing to see them all responding with a fervor that many bands would kill for.
Ash isn’t stuck with one generation at all, with several all enjoying Ash’s rocking punk momentum at once. With the last note, there was an almighty roar of appreciation from the crowd and with that, Ash left the stage.
With a short wait, the anticipation was palpable. The headliner is coming soon, and this headliner is none other than Liam Gallagher, internationally renowned exponent of Mancunian arrogance and go for it if you have the tough enough attitude. Many may say he has such arrogance about him, but when his mystique has been built around it, it’s hard to see anything else, but will he live up to his swagger-filled reputation? Is it all bluster?
The stage was buzzing as the crew set up all the instruments while blowing over Ormeau Park was The Stone Roses’ classic “I am The Resurrection” and immediately you could see the seal had broken, old memories came back for some, while others who were born long after the song was released wrapped themselves in the song like a favorite blanket.
All were singing. Then you could hear chanting rising first through the amps and then from the park itself as Liam’s football mad game encouraged tribal chanting which led to earth shaking chants of “Liam, Liam , Liam” and to an absolute seismic roar strutted out the man of the hour. Liam Gallagher was in Belfast and everyone knew it!
In his distinct, distinct tones, he said hello to Belfast, and my goodness, Belfast made sure he knew he was welcome. With bangers like “Fuckin’ in the Bushes”, “Hello” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”, the place erupted in a euphoria that is always talked about but not always seen. With blue and red smoke bombs exploding intermittently, the whole experience was an assortment of sounds, colors and lights that blended into a perfect dish of euphoria and fun.
Even when the clouds finally let go and poured out all of their watery contents, it couldn’t dampen the excitement as everyone sang, danced, smiled, laughed and enjoyed the experience.
When Liam started the chorus of “Morning Glory”, it was quickly clear that many people were going to struggle to speak the next day as the crowd of thousands, as one, sang at the top of their lungs. An absolute favourite.
‘Wall of Glass’, ‘Everything’s Electric’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Stand by Me’ kept the momentum going as in between Liam interacted with the audience in the only way he could both cheer , putting anyone displaying a football allegiance other than Manchester City down, and generally being an icon of the couldn’t give stuff attitude. It was like watching a blockbuster movie being filmed. While the focus was on Liam, the whole band tightly weaved the music around him to elevate him even higher.
He continued to hit home with the Beady Eye song “Soul Love” before “Roll It Over”, “Slide Away”, “More Power”, “World’s in Need” and “Diamond in the Dark” before closing the main set with “The River” and “Once”.
Obviously, there was going to be a recall. And this one delivered ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’, ‘Wonderwall’ and the classic ‘Champagne Supernova’.
The thousands of people there happily danced, jumped, moshed and sang beyond their vocal cords in a jubilation that defied explanation. The weather may have broken, but the spirit has only been harder and hotter. Everyone may have gotten soaked, but that only seemed to add to the experience and an unforgettable night.