Remembering 2022 – Belsonic 2022 // Iron Maiden // Shinedown // Airbourne // Tempt // Live Review // Belfast

So we are finally here, 2020 v.2.0 or v3.0 I can’t even tell anymore but we have all been through the wringer waiting on this stellar lineup finally taking place here in Belfast. A HUGE acknowledgement has to go out to the team at Belsonic for keeping this train on its tracks, After a crazy few years, the music industry plunged into absolute chaos and here we are, 15,000 metalhead’s all gathered here together in Ormeau Park in Belfast to embrace the mighty IRON MAIDEN

The guys are playing only two UK dates this year and tonight is night two, having come fresh from Download UK just this past weekend, I am confident they will riding a high right now from a blistering headlining performance.  But tonight it is all about Belfast, and we have a cracking lineup before us this evening with the mighty American heavy-hitters SHINEDOWN in support, the manic Australian AIRBOURNE and New York City’s TEMPT complete the lineup this evening. 

TEMPT are tonight’s openers with the tasty brand of 70’s & 80’s classic rock, NYC’s own bad boys who are coming straight from Download too bringing their own brand of hair metal all in the best possible taste of course. These crazy kids are off to the Netherlands from here and then Graspop in Germany before Hellfest in France, so to say they are on an upward trajectory right now is an understatement! Let’s see what all the fuss is about!. 5:45 arrives and Tempt takes to the stage, the arena has a healthy splattering of bodies already in for the early start, it is a school night after all and sheeple will be driving home from work to get changed and out the door for the first major outdoor metal event in the city for years. I would say there will be a healthy proportion from down south also making the trek up north, so by the time Maiden takes the stage this place will be rammed. Now about Tempt, the guys have a melodic quality to their music, easy on the ear with an ear worm-like quality that embeds itself in your head. The guys are in fine form and coming off the rush of playing Download this weekend they are well up for a party, thankfully the Belfast crowd and those here in attendance are more than happy to oblige. School night or not, Belfast is here for a good time!



Speaking of party, Australian mayhem maestros AIRBOURNE land on stage a little earlier than expected and the sound of The Terminator soundtrack bellows out of the arena. Which ain’t good cos we’re still outside the pit waiting on access to photograph! But a quick dash and we’re there with the wall of Marshall’s pushing out a serious sound as Airbourne absolutely have the Belfast crowd eating out of the palm of their hands in no time at all. Beers are being tossed out from the stage, left right and centre, as people clamber up on top of each other to grab one from the sky. Airbourne frontman O’keefe is right out into the crowd and that sets the bar for the set itself, an assault on the senses that leaves you breathless and begging for more, blistering energy, a cracking tight performance and all delivered by one of Australia’s finest exports which if you ever get the chance to catch them live, you simply have to. 

If ever a band can light up a festival it is Airbourne and their highly addictive and enduring energy that just resonates with the sizeable Belfast crowd, if you arrived here this evening with your eyes only for Maiden, you’ll leave an Airbourne fan.




America’s finest SHINEDOWN grace the stage at 7:40 and as we wait patiently side stage to get out and shoot this band for the very first time, I wonder how many are here for these Shinedown, it’s Shinedowns first ever show in Belfast and possibly Ireland so they are absolutely pumped for tonight and like the other bands have just completed a powerful set at Download 2022. Having just announced a European tour, sadly Ireland is not on that run of shows – so the guys are keen to make an impression and right from the off make their mark with a polished, contemporary industrial/electronica vibe infused in their heavy rock set. Having just dropped a new single ‘Daylight’ and a new album ‘Planet Zero’ arriving July 1st, Shinedown is energised and bringing the noise with their own brand of heavy rock, Brent Smith is one hell of a frontman, engaging with the crowd throughout, taking time to appreciate the sizeable crowd on a Monday night and actually fist-bumping the photographers in the pit as they play. A hefty set grabs the attention of the Belfast crowd and for many SHINEDOWN was an unknown quantity before this evening but afterwards will be a band on the tip of their tongues as they recall tonight’s festivities. A stellar performance from one seriously polished act.




Cometh the hour, cometh the band and back in Belfast for the first time since 2018 that band are the mighty Iron Maiden, now I have a confession …. I am a Maiden virgin, 48 years young and this is my very first time catching them live. I know, I know I’m a disgrace! Everyone I speak to raves about Maiden, Maiden live, Maiden albums and tonight for the very first time I’m having my wee Maiden cherry popped! Oh, and it feels good! Getting over the initial chaos of the first two songs in the pit I am free as a bird now to enjoy the set and take it all in its glory. The Legacy Of The Beast Tour has finally arrived. 

Having just recently released their new album Senjutsu, Tonight’s set will be a mixture of old and new Maiden and as a virgin, I’m just gonna take all that Maiden goodness like it was all made for me. The energy level of the crowd is immense, as Bruce says himself there are flags from all over the world in the crowd here tonight and people have travelled far snd wide to be here and it is appreciated… off the back of two shitty years, a gathering this size maybe be like a Downing Street party on steroids, but we’re defo gonna party like the Conservatives tonight! 

It’s such a pleasure to see how much this band means to so many, men women and children as far as the eye can see, young kids with ear defenders on, some experiencing Maiden as their first gig ever – I actually met one earlier, what a story to tell eh #toocoolforschool 

The drama and Theater that Maiden brings to their stage show is a story all in itself, from gothic backdrops and cloaks to flamethrowers and of course Eddie, the beloved Eddie that stole the hearts and minds of Maiden fans from the day dot. It is a visual extravaganza and as the skies darken the stage comes to life even more as all-around bellow out the song lyrics at the top of their voices in unison with Bruce, harmonising guitars and wailing solos scream out into the night air as Belfast approves this message. Maiden are back and as good as ever, we may have all been robbed two years of our lives but tonight that is all put to one side as 15,000 metal heads are here tonight to celebrate life, celebrate living in the company of old friends and new and the best of friends in Iron Maiden. The arena is in fine voice, and the noise is incredible as the large Belfast crowd cheer and applause every move Dickinson makes, and every time the guys gather together on stage to toss out another solo. A fantastic spectacle to see as flames toss upwards at the back of the stage, fireworks explode above them and the Belfast sky is lit up with the majesty of Iron Maiden on the Belsonic stage. 

A musical education indeed and as a live entity, one of the finest metal bands and performances I have had the pleasure to see, cherry popped and feeling all naughty where do I go from here? #answersonapostcardplease

Thank you Belsonic, thank you Belfast, thank you, Iron Maiden, till next time.


Review & Photography: Mark McGrogan 

#flashartmark // @flashartmark