What’s hot to trot in 2009? Edwin McFee takes the work out of planning ahead by providing a definitive guide to the most unmissable events in Ulster over coming months
The Lowdown: Back in 2002, Kimberly, Sarah, Nadine, Cheryl and the Ginger One banded together to become Girls Aloud on the reality show Popstars: The Rivals. Much to train-loving cheesy pop merchant Peter Waterman’s chagrin, the feisty five-piece beat off stiff competition from his boyband (sorry, “vocal harmony group”) and not only bagged the Christmas No 1 with the amazing Sound of the Underground, but they’ve gone on to become the most successful girl group of all time, scoring a staggering 19 consecutive Top 10 singles and they show no signs of stopping just yet. |On April 28, 29 and 30, the girls come back to The Odyssey for yet another pop masterclass and pound for pound we reckon it’ll be the show of the year.
The Link: Tickets for the April 29 and 30 shows are sold out but you can still buy some for April 28 from all Ticketmaster outlets, priced £33. ww.ticketmaster.ie or www.girlsaloud.co.uk
The Lowdown: This year thousands of soppy, NHS spectacle wearers can shed a tear of joy as former Smiths frontman Morrissey makes his Ulster return. |Not content with playing at the Waterfront in Belfast on May 2, the be-quiffed bellower visits Omagh Leisure Centre on May 1 and both shows should be absolutely spectacular if last summer’s Dublin gig is anything to go by. Mozza releases his ninth solo album Years Of Refusal on February 16, so expect the legend to continue to grow old disgracefully.
The Link: Morrissey plays Omagh Leisure Centre on May 1 and the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on May 2. Both dates are sold out but keep checking www.itsmorrisseysworld.com for late tour additions.
A Feast of Priest
The Lowdown: British rock icons Judas Priest celebrate 40 years in the business with a beast of a bash in the Odyssey that has been quite aptly dubbed ‘A Feast Of Priest’. |The bill also features heavy hitters Megadeth and Testament and the night should be quite special indeed. |Priest frontman Rob Halford promises pyros, motor-bikes and more in the high -octane production so dust down your denim and leathers and prepare yourselves for an eye-popping show on February 11.
The Link: Tickets for the show range between £35.50-£41.50 and are available from all Ticketmaster outlets. |Visit www.tickemaster.ie or www.judaspriest.com for more.
The Lowdown: Bootylicious babe Beyonce is Belfast-bound once more and the sexy star is slated to play the Odyssey on May 31. At the moment Ms Knowles is promoting her third solo album I AmSasha Fierce and although the slab of wax is a little hit-and-miss, expect more sauce than a Heinz factory during her live show as the diva will be keen to let everyone know that Leona Lewis hasn’t stolen her crown just yet.
The Link: Tickets for Beyonce’s Belfast date on May 31 range from £51.50-£56.50 and are available from Ticketmaster. |Visit www.ticketmaster.ie and www.beyonceonline.com for more info.
The Lowdown: Self-proclaimed “greatest rock band in the world” The Supersuckers hit Belfast with a slice of Thin Lizzy-laced attitude on April 20. The four-piece play The Limelight alongside their touring buddies Nashville Pussy and they’re currently celebrating the release of their much delayed studio album Get It Together. If you’ve never heard of The Supersuckers before then you’re in for a treat as the band mix the (ahem) subtlety of Motorhead with the whiskey-soaked romance of Waylon Jennings while keeping their tongues firmly in their cheeks.
The Link: Tickets for the gig are £15 and available from Katy Daly’s bar and all Ticketmaster outlets. Check out www.ticketmaster.ie and www.supersuckers.com for more.
Best of the Rest
Watchmen Film Finally Sees The Light Of Day
In comic book circles, no graphic novel comes with higher praise than Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s 1986 epic Watchmen. The volume, consisting of 12 issues, is arguably the moment when the medium came of age and features impotent super-heroes, insane vigilantes and a hefty dose of Cold War paranoia that has been hailed by everyone from Lost creator Damon Lindelof to Buffy The Vampire Slayer head honcho Joss Whedon as the greatest piece of fiction of all time. This year sees the long-delayed release of the theatrical version of the tale by director Zach (300) Snyder and every time a teaser trailer hits the web, fanboys and girls reach a state of fever pitch in anticipation of the movie. Writer Alan Moore might have distanced himself from the project (he has even allegedly gone as far as putting a curse on the film) but artist Dave Gibbons has been heavily involved and Watchmen will easily be one of the biggest pictures at the box office in years once it’s released in the US on March 6. At the time of going to press a UK release date has yet to be confirmed.
Ulster Hall Reopening
When the Ulster Hall closed its doors in 2007 for some much needed refurbishment, it left a huge whole in Northern Ireland’s music calendar. The venue first opened for business in 1859 and since then it has seen gigs which have became the stuff of legend over the decades. Led Zeppelin debuted Stairway to Heaven in the Ulster Hall on a frosty night on March 5, 1971 and every single music fan reading this feature will have made a pilgrimage there for a gig at some point in their life. March sees the venue back in business with a series of shows that are sure to be the talk of the town. However, while Ardal O’Hanlon (March 10), Stiff Little Fingers (March 11), Jackson Brown (March 21), Paul Brady (March 29) and Courtney Pine (March 31) will be fun, the one-off Do You Remember The First Time showcase on March 9 will be an extra-special date. Featuring Duke Special, Fighting with Wire, Panama Kings, Jetplane Landing and more (as well as a rumoured appearance from Therapy?) the gig will be a contender for show of the year, especially as admission is a mere £5. Check out www.ulsterhall.co.uk for more details.
New albums by U2, Lily Allen and more
If 2008 was the year where the new bands such as MGMT and The Ting Tings took over, 2009 should see the old guard come back in action with a vengeance. Leading the charge are the undisputed kings of stadium rock U2 with their twelfth studio record No Line On The Horizon. The album will be on shelves on February 27 and if Bono is to be believed it’ll be their best yet. Lily Allen also makes a comeback with her sophomore effort It’s Not You, It’s Me which is expected on February 9 and could either be absolute genius or a steaming pile of poop and the same can also be said for Courtney Love’s Nobody’s Daughter which is rumoured to be out soon, though we won’t hold our breath. On a local front, Therapy? are back in action this year with Crooked Timber which is out on March 23 and And So I Watch You From Afar unveil their debut album This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It on March 23.
The Return of Wossy
The sultan of Friday-night telly Jonathan Ross returns to our screens in the next few weeks and this writer for one can’t wait to see the dapper DJ back in action. As we’re sure you’re aware, Wossy was suspended without pay for 12 weeks in November over the Manuelgate saga (if you’re not clued up on the fiasco, we won’t bore you with the details) and by our calculations he should be back in the saddle to entertain us in time for the Spring. Wesult!
Get Your Wands Out
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince hits cinemas this July in time for the summer box-office wars. The film has been dogged by delays but we doubt that it will affect its earning potential. Without spoiling too much, Half Blood Prince is the sixth adaptation in the saga and sees the evil Voldemort tighten his grip on Harry. Oo-er missus!