Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Audience gets its kicks out of classic albums

Divine: Neil Hannon played The Divine Comedy's 1994 album Promenade with a string quartet at the Ulster Hall fundraiser
Divine: Neil Hannon played The Divine Comedy's 1994 album Promenade with a string quartet at the Ulster Hall fundraiser

The Undertones, Ash, The Divine Comedy - Ulster Hall

By the time this writer got inside the Ulster Hall last night, Neil Hannon was already halway through his set.

Opening the doors at 7pm and putting one of the main acts on at 7.30pm didn't seem like the smartest move.

But it was the two behind me I felt sorry for — they’d flown from Liverpool just to see Hannon perform the Divine Comedy's 1994 album Promenade with a string quartet.

Arriving as the maudlin crooner took “a brief respite while we turn the vinyl over”, it was a low-key start to this special concert in aid of the Alzheimer's Society.

Though Hannon put on an impressive show, many in the crowd weren't in the mood.

Encore National Express captured people's attention momentarily, but the lack of respect continued after Hannon had finished.

Disgracefully, several in the audience chattered over the top of specially made videos about Alzheimer's disease.

Still, Downpatrick rockers Ash perked proceedings up as they hit the stage.

The three-piece delivered their debut full-length album 1977 in its entirety.

About half the songs on the 1996 chart-topper were hit singles, so Goldfinger, Girl from Mars, Kung Fu, Angel Interceptor, and Oh Yeah — featuring guest vocals from Hannon — had the room rocking out.

And Wheeler's heartfelt speech about his father — who sadly died earlier this year after suffering from Alzheimer's — received warm applause.

An encore of Shining Light — dedicated to George Wheeler — ended the set on an emotional high.

Closing the gig, veteran Derry punks the Undertones played all of their debut, self-titled LP from 1979.

Spiky nuggets Here Comes the Summer, Jimmy Jimmy and of course John Peel's favourite song Teenage Kicks kept energy levels up to the end.

Best of all, local music guru Stuart Bailie came on stage to announce the evening had raised tens of thousands of pounds.

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