Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Houston's gospel offering fails to reach new heights

Northern Ireland music scene stalwart Brian Houston was the headline attraction at the East Belfast Arts Festival on Saturday.

The singer-songwriter performed in the auditorium of the recently opened Skainos Centre on Newtownards Road.

Normally used as a worship space by the Methodist congregation of the East Belfast Mission, it suited Houston's religiously-oriented fare, even if the PA system struggled to elevate the sound above an amateurish level.

Still, the likes of Jesus Again and Gospel Train seemed to connect with the large, family-skewed crowd. Between songs, Houston – whose ex-bandmates include Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol and Peter Wilson, aka Duke Special, before they were famous – came across as rather displeased with his lot. Yet his low profile doesn't seem to have affected his high opinion of himself, likening his career to Elvis Presley's and referring to his own records as 'classics'.

Sadly, Houston's middle-of-the-road, 'blues light' music was more toe-tapping than mind-blowing.

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