Festival season has arrived! Belsonic kicks off once again in full force with the arrival of none other than one Mr Saul Hudson and friends for a night of debauchery on the Island of Ireland, pity they didn’t bring the weather.
Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators are tonight’s headliners on Belsonic’s opening night of 2019, Blackberry Smoke bring their southern charm and two local Rockers in No Hot Ashes and The Screaming Eagles warm up proceedings before all holy hell breaks loose come 8:45pm.
An early kick off at 5pm, yes 5pm! Means chaos for some, fighting against the teatime traffic for many, crappy weather influx of human beings in one area and an already busy area means a modest enough crowd for tonight’s openers The Screaming Eagles, a bitchin’ band with a swagger and a style to get this party started! Slamming riffs and big hooks are the name of the game where these guys are concerned, riffage and anthemic tuneage make for a very tasty start to the night indeed, a modest crowd it may be but they make enough noise to show these local lads some deserved love and appreciation, the guys are in fine form knocking new and old tracks outta the park. A short and sweet set it may be but they have grabbed the attention of each and everyone here and made their mark amongst a quality line-up.
6pm sharp and No Hot Ashes ring out across the grounds of Ormeau Park, back again playing to a local audience these guys are a quality act with years of experience all coming together to form a well oiled machine! Signed to Frontiers and having dropped a long awaited debut album these guys have a hefty back catalogue that they can pull on, as the people start streaming into the grounds a more sizeable crowd has amassed to lift things to the next level, just as well as NHA have a collection of banging tracks with wailing guitars and serious hooks to grab the attention of those down below.
Yet another short break and quick turnaround for Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke take the stage at 7pm on a damp night in Belfast, back after their highly successful visit only last year selling out the Telegraph building the guys find themselves on a gargantuan stage with an appreciative audience in waiting. With an easy in the ear style and fluid melodic music, their set just flows across a wet Ormeau Park with the Irish crowd lapping it up! The guys ooze class and quality from the off and with a southern charm and bluesy licks they have the Belfast crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. A fine musical display makes a cold damp night in Northern Ireland feel like a warm southern breeze in Atlanta Georgia. It’s hard to not to fall in love with a band like BBS live, give in, let go, and let the guys take you on a sonic journey like no other. Mixing it up they guys throw in a few Irish ditties to play to the locals from The Pogues and the likes and the odd Classic Rock cover to make sure everyone was paying attention. A first class quality set from a first class band.
Time to catch out breath as a short break between BBS and our main headliner gave us time to take stock and appreciate the sea of people who have now gathered at Belsonic’s opener for 2019. Regardless of the weather Belfast has delivered and a cacophony of raincoats, poncho’s and Buffon’s, very, very wet Buffon’s as far as the eye can see. These events though for many are more than just about the music, it’s a community getting together once again to celebrate artists whom we have grown up with like the hardcore support for The Screaming Eagles and No Hot Ashes, to the long time aficionados of Blackberry Smoke and the kids whom Slash was god when they were 19, now in their 40’s still showing their love and appreciation for a lifetime and legacy left for all to see. It’s a party atmosphere regardless of the weather, and Belfast knows how to party.
Right on Q, the crowd roars as Slash and the gang hit the stage, in his signature Top Hat and leathers, Les Paul in hand Belsonic erupts once again. Myles adorned in a green leather biker jacket will no doubt keep the ladies happy once again, as more than a few had commented they were looking forward to catching an eyeful again. #hedoeshavefeelingsyouknow The guys energy level is through the roof, especially off the back of a laid back Southern swagger from Blackberry Smoke, Slash and Co, are a very different affair and the crowd love it! With four solo albums now under his belt, work with Velvet Revolver and of course that little known band Guns ‘N’ Roses there is no shortage of material to pull on for the guys, and regardless of whether it’s a track off their first self-titled album of their latest Living The Dream Belfast is in fine voice warbling along.
For many just catching a glimpse of the man live is worth the ticket price alone, those guitar licks and signature sound has an army of six-string slingers in tow wherever he goes and he has inspired more than a few to follow in his footsteps, as they rip through their set air guitars can be seen held high in homage to the great man himself. Myles vocals as always are on point and with a solid backing band Slash Feat Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators make a formidable proposition live, the band have a killer sound and live it’s even stronger, you get that in your face impact of the combo of Slashes gnarly riffs and Kennedy’s vocals and it has Ormeau Park bouncing.
A banging night for the first of many for Belsonic 2019, the chance for many to capture one of Rock’s legends in the flesh and he doesn’t disappoint. It may have rained from gates opening to gates closing, but it never dampened the spirits of the Northern Irish crowd, determined, relentless and some may say crazy? But we gave everything back to those guys on stage and more. Safe trip ladies, we’ll see you again soon.
Review & Photography: Mark McGrogan
#flashartmark // @flashartmark