It's Ireland - of course it's raining! What a Jem
Having said my many farewells to Luxembourg (including some heavy-duty celebrating which included a striaght male friend removing his shirt in a gay bar) I am now back in lovely rainy Northern Ireland. Now, times have changed in these 'ere parts, and one of the ways in which you can tell that "Belfast is Buzzing!" is by the quality of live music. When I were a nipper, bands refused to come to this part of the world. But the annual Tenants Vital summer festival is now in its 5th year, and the concert last week had some of the cream of today's artists performing.
We started with local band Leya, who managed to be a pleasant sounding Coldplay without the whinging.There is a very vibrant scene in local bands here - my son is a drummer and went to chat up potential new band on Friday night, very encouraged by the amount of gigging and live venues that abound. The large video screens on either side of the stage had a "text your message here" scrolling underneath, and these were soon being used as a dating agency/ "can I get a lift home to Larne?" facility. A couple of marriage proposals appeared too! The queues for the loos and lager were mercifully short, and the rain that fell was thankfully light.
Jem appeared on stage, all fresh-faced and bouncy. I'm sure she must've been freezing in that boob-tube, but her flat stomach had more than a few tongues hanging out. The crowd merrily sang along to "Wish I" and "I'm sorry", before she finished with our personal fave "24".
A short refuelling of lager and pizza, and then soft rock pin-ups Maroon 5 took to the stage. What can I say? They went down with the crowd well enough (especially the teenage girls), but I find them a bit bland and slightly too jazzy for my taste. A good live performance, though.
The skies darkened, a few more spits and spots of rain fell, but the crowd was hotting up and eagerly waiting for what I expected to be the highlight of the show - those Glaswegian epitomes of cool, Franz Ferdinand. They had a much more intricate set, consisting of 4 long prisms at the back which rotated every few numbers to show pictures of the band themsleves, or cover pircures from their albums. And suddenly there they were on stage, all angular angsty energy and leaping off the drum kit. The crowd went wild. The guys established a very good rapport with the audience, and even dedicated a song especially to anybody in the audience who'd come to see them on their first trip to Belfast a mere 2 years ago. Worth the ticket price alone!
As dusk settled, the stage was prepared for the headline act. The set looked like a cross between a funfair ride and a west end musical - flashing light bulbs spelled out "Scissor Sisters" above 3 concentric glittery arches, and colourful spotlights and supertrooper beams gave the impression of a circus. Having been on our feet for 5 hours now, and on Day 2 of trying to give up smoking, it was tough not to bum a ciggie off the wildly dancing crowd. I'm pretty sure that some of those contained more than just tobacco, though...And well done to the member of the audience who managed to get Anna Matronic and Jack Shears to read out their marriage proposal - definitely classier than a text meassge on a video screen! We left before the final encore, to avoid the big crowd surge, and agreed that it had been one of our highlights of the year.