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Challenging a spandex-wearing rocker to a duel? Make sure you select pistols...

There have been a lot of good gigs in Belfast over the past few weeks. I was at Metallica recently (or a ‘reunion of Family Metallica’ as the singer insisted on calling it), and I had a great night out.

Similarly, I took up the baby-sitting duties so that my wife could see Rod Stewart (who moves pretty good for a pensioner I’m told).

Likewise, Susan Daly at WriteNoiseNI will do everything she can to get out to a great gig – being 33 weeks pregnant will not prevent attendance. The only problem is that, once there, overzealous security guards might prevent actual enjoyment of the music.

When at the recent Air gig at The Waterfront, the blogger noted the “slight kill joy attitude of the security towards allowing anyone to dance, even during the wildly upbeat encore”.

That’s not so good, but otherwise how did the Belfast crowd take to the French electronica outfit?

The band was “interrupted from occasional shout outs which epitomise the very peak of Belfast wit (oh we do try) of ‘hand ball’ (yes, people paid to come to see the band and berate them for Thierry Henry’s poor sportsmanship)...”

Sacre bleu! And yet according to Susan the band were completely bowled over by their reception after the encore.

“[Air] appeared genuinely touched and delighted with it, standing dumbstruck for a couple of minutes on stage at the end, beaming and bowing at fans, with their hands over their hearts to show how much they were loving the whole experience.”

Over at his BBC blog, Stuart Baillie reminisces about crossing swords, not with security, but with the lead singer of one of the world’s biggest heavy metal bands.

Besides being an editor at NME, Stuart is a former Irish Intervarsity Sabre Champion. And some years back he thought it might be a good idea to challenge Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson (a fencer of some repute) to a duel.

Did he do the aul’ sod proud?

According to his blog (complete with pics): “I took the lead early on. Being a leftie, I had a bit of an advantage, and my muscle memory was taking me though a few old moves, like the quarte parry, disengage combo. Easy.”

Sounds great, so you beat him then Stuart? Erm... nope.

“Bruce got me, on target, a final time. I was deflated and mildly humiliated. Also, intensely tired and reaching the limits of my cardio-vascular capacity. My fencing career was officially over and the resulting [NME] feature caused a few cruel laughs.”

I too heard the PR story that Bruce was an Olympic standard fencer. And while some scoffed at the notion, only Stuart would man up and invite Bruce to put his epee where his mouth is. There’s no disgrace in being beaten by a credible opponent Stuart – even one with long hair and a liking for tight spandex.

Over at my own blog Bobballs , I took a closer look at the government’s ‘Your Freedom’ and ‘Spending Challenge’ initiatives which are designed to invite the public to suggest laws to scrap and ways to strip the costs out of administration.

The government scheme may succeed in its stated aims, but it may also be an unintended success in other ways too.

“Whether they meant to or not, the government is in the process of sourcing the ultimate ‘people’s manifesto’,” I noted.

Collecting lots of popular ideas online will surely act as a honeypot for all sorts of interested parties. Northern Ireland political parties “really ought to be eyeing up that site to crowd-source their 2011 Assembly manifestos”.

And welcome back mercurial blogger Ivor Whitten at Hand of History !

“It has been [a long time] since the last time i blogged a piece,” he writes. “Even though lots of ideas flow for bits and bobs, I still find little time to actually write the pieces.

“And so as an advocate of social media and online networking, i have committed the cardinal sin of, well, not updating (much).”

But he redeems himself with insight into how to make best use of social media platforms. For Ivor, the bottomline is to commit to it and to be sociable. But elsewhere, one blogger is definitely committing to being unsociable over the next few days. Manuel the Waiter at Well Done Fillet cannot conceal his lack interest in this year’s July 12 parades.

According to the blogger: “If you’re in Belfast enjoy the cultural curfew/parades, depending on your outlook. I’ll be tut tutting through the sitting room window at people drinking in the street if anyone needs me.”

Pay no attention to Manuel Belfast, he’s still smarting from seeing his naked Cousin shake booty while singing Kellis’s ‘Milkshake’. The horror, the horror .

Geoff McGimpsey is a PR consultant and blogs on Northern Ireland politics and current affairs at http://bobballs.co.uk

Belfast Telegraph