Belfast Telegraph

INXS’s Ciaran Gribbin to mark 150 years of Ulster Hall

Derry star's delight over special gig

By Maureen Coleman

As INXS frontman he has toured three continents, played to packed out arenas and performed in some of the world's most spectacular venues.

But tomorrow night Castledawson's Ciaran Gribbin will be back on his favourite stage in Belfast, when he returns to the Ulster Hall to take part in the Great Northern Songbook.

Ciaran is one of 10 acts lined up to perform at the BBC Radio Ulster concert to celebrate 150 years of the Ulster Hall and his two-song performance will be a triumphant homecoming of sorts after the ‘most amazing year' of his life since joining the Australian superstars.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ciaran said: “I've played in some pretty wonderful places with INXS since joining the band but nowhere is quite as special as the Ulster Hall.

“I remember going there for gigs when I was about 14 or 15, a wee lad from the country coming up to Belfast to see bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. Then when I was with the band Leya we got to play there, supporting Embrace.

“To be coming back now as the lead singer of INXS, to be asked to take part in this show and to get the chance to perform with the Ulster Orchestra is something I never dreamed could happen. If you'd said this to me a year ago I would have laughed at the thought.

“It just took that one phone call to ask me to join INXS to turn my life around. It's been almost a year since I joined the band and it's been the most amazing experience of my life. Everything I could have hoped for and more.”

On the night, Ciaran will perform an INXS classic and a cover of a locally composed song.

He said: “I'm not allowed to say what songs I'll be doing, but I'm honoured to be singing the local song I've been given. It's definitely up there in my top three tunes that have ever come out of Northern Ireland.

“And I'm delighted to be performing with the Ulster Orchestra. It's going to be an amazing night.”

Nine other acts will also take part — Bronagh Gallagher (below left), Cara Dillon (below), Brian Kennedy, The Answer, And So I Watch You From Afar, General Fiasco, RAMS Pocket Radio, Katharine Philippa and Barry Lynn (Boxcutter), accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.

Each act will perform one of their own tracks plus a cover of a well-known local song voted for by the Northern Irish public. The 10 most popular songs will be unveiled on the night.

Sydney-based Ciaran stopped off in New York on his route home to visit his brother 26-year-old John, also a musician. He said: “John's doing really well at the moment, working under the name Building Pictures.

“He's even got to play on top of a skyscraper in front of Liam Neeson. It would be a dream come true to have John and his band to open for INXS some day. Who knows, maybe in Belfast.

“If there's nothing else I ever do, I want to bring INXS home to Northern Ireland.

“It will happen, I just don't know when.”

  • The Great Northern Songbook — 150 Years Of The Ulster Hall will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster tomorrow night at 8pm.


Ciaran Gribbin is a singer/songwriter who has worked with Madonna, Paul McCartney and Snow Patrol. Born in Castledawson in Co Londonderry, Ciaran fronted local band Leya before going solo under the name Joe Echo. After writing with artists like Groove Armada and William Orbit, he was nominated for a Grammy for Madonna’s hit Celebration which he co-wrote.

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