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The news has come to my ears that this year’s Glasgowbury Music Festival lukewarm from the weekend last, will be the final cry out over the mountain for Ireland’s largest and by far best independent music festival – some dare say the best festival period.

It is truly, sad news – however the legacy of what was achieved amongst the crowds of people involved; be it audience members, magnificent bands, reams of folk who volunteered and helped keep the sheep from joining in on the action, or the main men and women themselves the organisers will not be forgotten soon.

I am sure we’ll see a little bit more massive yet from that direction of the world.

…I could wax lyrical all day on what a privilege it was to walk through the gates at Eagle’s Rock, and even lend a very small paw on occasion, and the impact it has had on my life; but for now I’ll just say goodbye in the best way I can, with a few pictures.

…tiny drops create massive oceans, given time – and I have no doubt that the motions caused out in Mid-Ulster will not be long to cause larger waves.

Thank you Paddy and all of the enigmatic (Eagle-matic?) cohorts.

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It has been some time since I’ve committed genuine thought onto the (web)pages of this blog, and not for lack thereof – more that there has been such an unbridled sea of raw ideas recently to process that I haven’t been able to coherently staple anything together.

Sounds like a positive force, but actually it’s chaotic and very infuriating.

…but so, as happens at such sweeping occasions as the moving of one year into another, people make lists. I’m no stranger to that myself. So with the utmost bias possible, and no little shortage of hilarious internal doubt and counter-argument, here is my list of top ten bands from Northern Ireland this year.

10. A Northern Light

Quite the breath of fresh air, to see a band who genuinely want to see their audience’s earlobes bouncing with love. Americanised, full of DeLonge and very proud of it. Their launch night was easily one of the best RADAR gigs of the year, and providing that the message within their music continues to be purveyed by positivity as 2011 moves into full view, they shall continue to progress on the well crafted foundations that they’ve made. At the risk of laying down a verbal punchline, ‘Show Me What You’ve Got’.

9. Kasper Rosa

In a fashion that surpassed already high expectations the arrival of EP2 proved itself to be one of the best releases of the year, composed from a probable plethora of internal interests by Dave, James, Ryan & Steven – topped off by a masterful turn from producer Clark Phillips. After rocking out in delightful form at the Pigstock Music Festival, Kasper Rosa again packed out the Spring & Airbrake for their release launch, and deftly pocketing themselves a short tour of the UK during the Summer. As well as all that, they also landed a wonderful slot ahead of 65daysofstatic at the Mandela.

8. More Than Conquerors

Coming up strong throughout the year on a veritable string of good will, the four young lads that make up More Than Conquerors have been knocking down doors like dominoes, and as they say, no wonder. A fantastic first release which set them up from the off as an accomplished act flowed into a few high profile support slots with the likes of Ash, and as the year progressed a UK tour with Fighting With Wire. Much has been said about their fairly swift rise through the ranks and I personally can only see 2011 as being particularly exciting for them.

7. Axis Of

2010 for Axis Of consisted of a large jump in profile via touring, solid début festival performances and a fantastic music video to accompany their release of Port Na Spaniagh. Growing on stage from a punk outfit into an energetic tour de force has firmly cemented them in audiences’ around the country and much like Team Fresh, the opportunity is there for them to spring themselves further along from the platform they’ve set themselves up on.

6. Cashier No.9

Effortlessly groovy, and one of the more mature bands within the community, Cashier No.9 have been busy behind the scenes recording their new album between times regaling festival audiences with their sonic wares. A highlight at Glasgowbury as well as topping off the Belfast Music Week in September the band have been solidly increasing their stage presence throughout the year. If the stellar tune that is ‘Lost At Sea’ is anything to go by, I’ll be looking forwards to what sails out from their instruments come 2011.

5. Team Fresh

It’s no surprise that Team Fresh have bounded through this year as they did last, finally releasing their first material in a form that bottles partially some of that energy they bring with them onto the stage. This year also saw them step up to the Mandela Hall on several occasions to acclaim; not to mention once again devastating RADAR. As the new year comes into play hopefully we’ll see another spate of releases and some additional heavyset performances riding along the edge of what may in another world, be riots.

4. Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas

Haven’t heard of Paddy Nash? Well you might not have – but now that the name has been introduced to you, I suggest you give him a listen. With the Enchiladas in tow, Paddy’s album When We Were Brave is one of the most heartbreakingly honest, uplifting collections of songs I’ve ever had the privilege of owning. From one end of the album to the other, the tales of Derry and beyond filter down into you, leaving only the dilemma of whether to put it all back on for another listen, or to just sit back in silence to absorb the power behind one of the great voices of Northern Ireland.

3. LaFaro

It seems we’ve been spoiled by albums this year, and hopefully next year will be no different – LaFaro’s self-titled balls to the wall affair is nothing short of immaculate. It storms your ears, holds your brain down and then asks you politely to listen, all the while staring you down and daring you to think different. I remember when I first heard it, blaring from a car stereo as the sun blazed down and the fields South of Belfast shot past the windows. Aside from spreading their brand of rock via the airwaves, they’ve also been pushing out into the world with tours of Europe, and the mainland UK with Helmet. What’s yet to really hit home I think, is the potential scale of their audience, who seem preternaturally playing catch up with them. One day hopefully, they will.

2. And So I Watch You From Afar

Striding out into the depths of both America and Europe, the four audio-hallions of the apocalypse have been working hard in 2010 – leaving no less intense a stream of flotsam and jetsam in their wake than they usually do. Then of course there’s the matter of ‘that’ tour with Them Crooked Vultures. We’ve been looking forwards to that moment when ASIWYFA jump into a more public consciousness (and fuck knows what happens when it does, I cannot fathom the unified power-bulb of thousands joining together emotionally at their hands) and it is in sight on the horizon. Perhaps it will come in 2011 alongside more touring, an even more epic gathering of far flung souls and the release of their new album. Excitement, is an undervalued word as the North coast machine rolls ever on.

1. Two Door Cinema Club

Bursting into the Summer months with a fabulous album in Tourist History, which I think has since been worn into oblivion – or at the very least soldered into my brain for ever more – Two Door Cinema Club have surpassed all that you could realistically hope for the lads from Bangor. In amongst their far reaching touring throughout 2010, the band have also clocked up appearances on Later With Jools Holland, the Jimmy Kimmel Show, Le Grande Journal and played the inaugural gig at Twitter HQ.

Nuts.

So there you have it. My little, quite insignificant but none the less hilarious viewpoint on local music over the last year. And, as with everything more fuzzy than it is quantifiable there are many omissions I’d probably prefer to have in there, many which almost didn’t make it, and many which actually didn’t; and of course those which I may have forgotten about because I’ve been known to do that.

Special mentions go out to A Plastic Rose, Colenso Parade, General Fiasco, Fighting With Wire, MojoFury & Pocket Billiards – who have all been up to no good this year in many different capacities, be it blowing festivals away, recording, releasing, touring and generally frolicking around the country plying their individual wares in the maddest way possible.

Also, in light of all the good and the great that has happened this year it is with more than a little touch of sadness that I say goodbye to the CutawaysPanama Kings & Skruff; three of my favourite bands to create rumpus around my lady parts.

Here is to 2011 being yet another step better.

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Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas

…wonderful.

August 26, 2010 | No comments

Paddy Nash

“We used it for a practice for Glasgowbury so it saved us forking out for a room. I told this to the numpty on the phone and the rep at the gig and they still phoned me afterwards and offered us a wild card slot. I said wild card? You’re the joker now fuck off and tell Arthur to suck my balls.”

…on the Guinness sponsored ‘Arthur’s Day‘ ‘Battle Of The Bands’.

August 19, 2010 | No comments

Many things come to mind post-Glasgowbury – not least of all that I get the blues after such an all-encompassing high point as standing up the Sperrins (ahem, aye so I’ll admit my geographical misdemeanour in calling it the Mourne mountains for the last few weeks – not sure where that verbal balls up came from – we’ll just say enthusiastic swift ignorance) listening to some of the best music in the world. It’s also hard to top the connected social feeling from seeing all and sundry, reeling back down to normality can be a tough transition.

Aside from the obvious thank you to each and every person involved and in attendance at the festival, there was a number of other memories which stood out as making this year’s Glasgowbury particularly sentimental.

– receiving a dedication from the cheeky sods that make up More Than Conquerors. Meant the world, genuinely.

– getting to sit in the throat of And So I Watch You From Afar’s performance whilst all buzzed and whirled around me.

– proudly seeing Team Fresh and Pocket Billiards début at the festival to a practical riot respectively each.

– running into Electric Mainline’s Stephen McCauley in the campsite, whilst towing two chairs along at a sprint. At the time I don’t quite think I realised just how that must have looked.

At this point I thought it pertinent to pass over the reigns to a few of the masses, the collective music community that I rattle on so much about – each and every one of us has a story to tell, and an experience to share; individually they mean something to each of us, but together they hopefully become so much more.

Brian Magill

What a great day. The festival just gets better every year. I know most of the plaudits will be reserved for the blistering sets from Fighting With Wire, LaFaro & ASIWYFA, but for me to wax lyrical about those three would just be laziness, really.

For me, the three bands that stood out were Pocket Billiards, Team Fresh and Adebisi Shank. Pocket Billiards were so up for it, and you could tell from the moment they walked out on stage that they were there to have a great time. I hate this ‘too cool for school’ shit you get with a lot of bands nowadays; it’s ok to enjoy what you’re playing (!). They are the quintessential party band and really deserve a bit more exposure.

As for Team Fresh, they had the unenviable task of hitting the stage at the same time as And So I Watch You From Afar. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a) they might be playing to an empty tent and b) that it would rub off on their performance, but they gave it everything they had, and a lot of people (myself included) were sucked in by the racket emanating from their tent. Another bunch who know how to have a good time and entertain. We’ll need to get them up to Derry soon!

Adebisi Shank are a phenomenon. They confuse and delight in equal manner, and are as punk rock as you’re likely to find in this day and age. The new tuneage was head twistingly superb, and the old favourites were there in force. You know you are seeing something special with these guys, when someone as talented as Jonny Black turns to you mid-set and shakes his head in both envy and disbelief.

Oh, and it didn’t rain. What a bonus!

Colm Laverty

Like Christmas for NI music. Dozens of my favourite local acts, veterans and newcomers alike, all helped create that feeling of unity (a rarity for festivals). My love for the day can be epitomised in one moment, where I faced the sky with my eyes closed, just as the last chords of Fighting With Wire rang out, thinking, “These aren’t just songs, they’re the soundtrack to our lives”.

Danny Morton (More Than Conquerors)

Although it was Glasgowbury’s tenth anniversary it was my first time at the festival, or at any festival for that matter; so needless to say I was uncertain about what the next twenty four hours held in store for me. Apparently, ‘a lot’ of free booze, loud music and the absolute best of banter! It would be so easy to fill a week or month with great gigs in Belfast during term time, but you don’t actually realise the amount of incredible bands that we have knocking about until you hear most of them in only one day!

The only bad thing about Glasgowbury seems to be that you’re completely spoilt for choice – how can you choose between Strait Laces, ASIWYFA and Team Fresh? You do your best and no matter where you end up you’ll have a pint, a group of mates and memories that will last a life time…

Diane Greer (Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas)

We had high hopes for Glasgowbury 2010 and we had a fantastic time. I couldn’t believe the crowd we pulled, all ages, shapes and sizes, the place was packed. There were moments when I looked into the crowd and they were all singing and smiling back at us and I felt really moved. I know our album (When We Were Brave) is doing really well, I know the reviews are great, I know we have good things ahead but nothing, absolutely nothing will ever compare to what I felt, in fact we all felt it… and it was mighty!

When people know the words of your songs it stops being an ‘us’ and ‘them’ thing and becomes a shared experience, one which everyone plays a part in and I was definitely overwhelmed by it. We are gaining a reputation for making people feel good, and that’s a two-way thing. Paddy writes great songs but unless people like them then they are just that – good songs – it’s something when people start to tell you how they relate to them, how they make them feel. Glasgowbury 2010 will live forever in the memory of Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas – and we are grateful for that.

Graham Smith (Music Photographer)

Having attended Glasgowbury over the past six years I have been able to watch it grow, in every respect, in to what it is now: a vibrant, entertaining, relaxed and exciting showcase for the incredible talent this country holds. I have said it every year and I will say it is again for 2010….this really was the best year yet.

Jason Hawthorne (Yes Cadets)

Playing on the mainstage was such a buzz, seeing people dancing to our music in the sun; that has definitely made my Summer so far (thank you weather god!). Given the weather and the lovely response, clashing with two of my favourite bands (Adebisi Shank and Not Squares) didn’t seem to matter anymore, apart from the fact that I didn’t get to see them rock out.

Roll on next year!

John Gribbin (Building Pictures)

When I landed at the festival site around eleven on Saturday morning there were a few ominous grey clouds floating around the Sperrin Mountains, but thanks to a few strong gusts of wind and a bit of the old Irish luck it cleared up and the weather was glorious!!

As a wise man said to me, “Only Paddy Glasgow can get good weather in July“…such is the unpredictability of our bloody Summer! I parked up the car, and took a walk down to the festival site just before the doors were opened just so that I could take in the spectacle of the setting. It really does amaze me to think that four thousand people descend upon a mountain to dance their socks off to a load of local bands!!

It really is very special!!

Lisa Byrne

As far as birthday parties go, this has to have been the best I have been to! My fourth year at Glasgowbury didn’t disappoint. The best year I’ve had to date. I squeezed in as much music as I possibly could in the twelve hour running time and loved every minute of it. Not Squares were an absolute treat of a find and I’ll be going to a lot more of their gigs in future.

Here Comes the Landed Gentry, Furlo, Colenso Parade and ASIWYFA amongst too many others stood out for me; along with the mighty Cashier No.9!

O.M.G!

Niall Lawler (Axis Of)

For something we’d been building up for over a year, Glasgowbury completely blew away our expectations. Landing a slot on the main stage was something else. For a hardcore band like us, getting slots like that simply shouldn’t happen, getting the crowd the size we did furthered the general absurdity of it all. The only downside of the whole event was some amazing memories which were forgotten due to the later celebrations. I think it goes without saying, but we are massively grateful to Paddy, Dermot and the rest of the team for recognizing our hardwork and believing in us. No festival has come close to Glasgowbury in my eyes, long may it continue.

Rion McCartney (Here Comes The Landed Gentry)

As both a punter and musician, I have been attending this great festival since 2003, and this year like so many had again another diverse and exciting line up. For me it’s great to listening to bands who you never hear but always see/hear their names being mentioned, meeting people from other parts of the country who dig what the band are doing and having a good old booze up and a boogie!

Another personal highlight for me this year was HCTLG headlining the Spurs Of Rock stage to a jam packed capacity crowd, with people singing the words of the songs back to you.

The amount of preparation put into the process of the festival deserves a tip of the hat to Paddy, Stella and all the hard workin’ crew, without these people doing what they do who knows what I would have been doin’ last weekend…

…for this, I Salute You All!

Slaine Browne (Team Fresh)

First time playing Glasgowbury; we were a bit worried that no one would come to see us as it was our first time here and our older, wiser brothers were playing in the G-Sessions tent right beside us. By the first few bars of ‘Trojan‘ the tent was half full, by the end it was full to the brim, people crowd surfing, a mosh pit going for the entire set, the smoke machine blew up making Niall and Chops invisible for most of the show.

As soon as we finished we ran outside and across to the G-Sessions tent to catch the end of our comrades set, Dunbar ran up and stage dived into the crowd. We all reconvened in the camp site and got dinner, got our energy levels back up for Pocket Billiards and continued to crowd surf for the rest of the night. I remember leaving their set and collapsing on the grass in front of the main stage where I remained for the rest of the evening smiling at all passers by – then back to the camp site for more ‘Craic Fuel’ (tropical juice and vodka) and general ganch and bantering with everyone there.

Wish it was three days long…

Stephen McCauley (BBC Electric Mainline)

Glasgowbury has always been the temperature gauge for Northern Irish music but this year was extra-special! Maybe it was just that everyone wanted to celebrate the 10th birthday together but it felt like anything was possible! It felt truly joyous! As long as I live, I will never forget the atmosphere in the G-Sessions tent when And So I Watch You From Afar played. Fans were swarming around the outside of the tent trying to get in and this was before the band came anywhere near the stage! It was the worst kept secret in history that they’d be the surprise guests on the day and the sense of anticipation was electrifying! I watched it all from the back of the stage, speechless once again!

I was busy in the early afternoon trying to record a special edition of Electric Mainline from the artists’ car park and my abiding memory was LaFaro arriving in their red van straight from the ferry, on their way back from a gig in Glasgow the night before. They’d barely slept, they’d driven for hours, Alan climbed out of the van in crutches, they borrowed two guitars, crowded around a few microphones and played an absolutely heartstopping acoustic version of “The Ballad of Burnt Dave“. It was so great just to see everyone again!

It’s a festival like no other – may it last forever!

Steven Rainey (BBC Introducing)

It’s fast becoming a cliché to say, but this year Glasgowbury exceeded all expectations, taking this uniquely Northern Irish experience into uncharted territory. After ten years of supporting and promoting music in Northern Ireland, the festival has become the ultimate showcase of what this country’s musicians are capable of.

Looking around during Fighting With Wire’s headlining set, pride swelling within my bosom, I couldn’t help but think, “I wouldn’t swap this for any other experience in the world”.

Thomas Camblin (MojoFURY)

Glasgowbury, what a day! I love the fact that a small (but massive) festival can generate so much excitement with in a community.

My festival highlight was standing on the ‘smallbutMASSIVE’ mainstage while LaFaro blew the place apart…Alan Lynn is an absolute hero. The man, with damaged tendons in his kick drum foot, just back of a week’s tour, still beat the shit out of the kit.

Truly extraordinary!

With all of this said, from bands, fans, photographers and writers, there is only one last thing to re-state…

Paddy, Stella, Dermot, Niall, Sharon, Bobby and all the rest – from the very bottom of all our hearts, thank you for all of the efforts you have put into making the Glasgowbury Music Festival what it is.

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As this year’s Glasgowbury Music Festival looms down from the mountains of Ireland – with the recently released news that Fighting With Wire are set to retake their (most welcome) mantle as headlining act – I’d like to take a quick look back at ten of my own favourite moments from documenting last year’s festival.

On reflection at my choice of photos I’ve noticed that they are all black and white. No reason is genuinely implied, although I’m sure subconsciously as I got about halfway through I began to stick to the aesthetic with some vigour.

Paddy Nash & Pizza

Lifting spirits and minds alike, we sat in the Cellar Bar with some pizza and beers – our heads transported forward to the weekend at hand by the tunes of Paddy Nash and Junior Johnson.

A Plastic Rose In The Campsite

The lads from A Plastic Rose made every single attempt possible to promote their slot, including show-boating around the camp site in the hours before they were due to go on, and it worked – the tent was packed out.

LaFaro’s Onstage Antics

It’s hard to think of anyone more suited to a performance on the main stage than LaFaro. Equal parts dirt, sex and spit, they tore the entire place apart aurally.

The Crowd During Skruff

There are crowds, and then there are entire rows of people bouncing along in time to the music at an almost professional level – fucking apt. Skruff are lethal.

Gerry Norman Crowd Surfing

It was almost considered impossible in the minds of some, but due to the crowd that they managed to bring into their tent, A Plastic Rose’s amiable guitarist was able to ditch his weapon and launch himself around the cheering mob during Kids Don’t Behave Like This.

Colenso Parade

In a day highlighted by outright rock and roll and sharper fare – Colenso Parade’s friendly music soared far and wide, punctuating the day with some well natured and delightful sounds.

Paul McCarren’s Big Day Out

The lord of the manor, Dungannon branch, was out in force during the weekend spreading his charm to many a heart. His trusty minions were also never far from the action, in many cases cheering, diving, moshing and generally causing the crowds to rock out.

Jonny Black & Herb Magee

…because…er.

Just look at them. They look like they’ve landed in from planet ‘iRock’.

And So I Watch You From Afar

Knowing the dedicated following that they have entranced with their brand of ‘awesome’, and being one of them, watching And So I Watch You From Afar headlining Glasgowbury was a particularly delicious fruit to digest – for all.

The Stage Invasion

Watching the reaction of the crowd, the bands on stage and in particular Tony Wright of And So I Watch You From Afar, was truly something I hope never to forget. I was awed. Which happens regularly with those eejits from the North of the North.

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