Noise Annoys: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Belfast offers feast of musical fun

This week, a trawl through Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Belfast's multitude of upcoming Noise Annoys-friendly musical engagements

Limerickian indie popsters Whenyoung are at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival next week

BELFAST'S Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is upon us once again, bringing with it another fine crop of old favourites and up and coming music acts for our consideration in this its 20th year of existence.

Of chief interest to this column are the imminent shows by Noise Annoys favourites Teenage Fanclub and Echo & The Bunnymen, who will be bringing their vast arsenals of top tuneage to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival Marquee on Thursday May 2 and Friday May 3 respectively.

Sadly, the former act have now apparently retired Gerry Love's myriad contributions to their canon in the wake of the bassist's recent departure from the Teenage Fanclub ranks, so don't be expecting to hear Sparky's Dream, Ain't That Enough, I Need Direction, Star Sign et al in the big top next Thursday night.

It's just as well the Fannies have plenty of other top tunes to sub in, including their first post-Gerry recording Everything Is Falling Apart, a Raymond McGinley-penned number featuring their 'new boys', keyboard maestro Euros 'Gorky's Zygotic Mynci' Childs and former keys man turned bassman (keep up at the back there) Dave 'Belle & Sebastian' McGowan.

Look out for my interview with Ray about all things Teenage Fanclub in next Thursday's Irish News.

The new-look Teenage Fanclub play CQAF Marquee on Thursday May 2

As for the Bunnymen, Mac, Will and the rest of the band most recently put out The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon, an album of reworked Echo classics plus two new tunes which was actually pretty great – even the new version of The Killing Moon, sacred ground for fans of the band, successfully re-imagined as a ghostly piano 'n' strings-based ballad (though just Mac and the piano would have been even better, imho).

The band are currently back in the studio recording the follow-up to their last full collection of new originals, 2014's Meteorites, so next week's gig in Belfast should provide an excellent opportunity for them to blow off some steam.

There's plenty more musical gold to be panned from the 2019 CQAF programme, including Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb, who will be taking a break from leading his revived Americana heroes on their current tour to come and play solo at Ulster Sports Club on Thursday May 2 – sure to be a painful clash with Teenage Fanclub for many fans.

The same is true for the Echo & The Bunnymen show and Grandaddy man Jason Lytle's solo stand at 1st Presbyterian Church on Friday May 3, with support from our very own Malojian.

Grandaddy man Jason Lytle plays a sold-out show at CQAF on Friday May 3

Grandaddy's show at The Front Page (RIP) around 1999/2000 still stands as one of the finest gigs ever staged in this city, an opinion I'm fairly confident the majority of the other folks who witnessed the band's fantastic performance will share, so it's little wonder that Jason's upcoming solo spot has already sold out – a situation which will now become the deciding factor for those who hadn't yet bought tickets for either him or the Bunnymen: the latter are still very much on sale at time of press.

Alternatively, Friday May 3 also finds top northern soul outfit The Gold Tips making their hometown debut at The Duke of York. That's 'northern soul' as in they play soul and they're from the north of Ireland - Belfast via Ballymena, to be exact - not the Wigan Casino and all that. Hit up to check out Midnight's Gone from their 2018 debut LP Parade and see if they make you wanna testify.

J Spaceman returns to Earth/Belfast on Saturday May 4 with Spiritualized for a show at CQAF Marquee, which they will of course be transforming into a psychedelic gospel tent for one night only, while Washington DC up-and-comer Sneaks brings her experimental bedroom-brewed post-punky sounds to The Sunflower on the same night.

Sunday afternoon finds Bangor-based electronic musician Hannah Peel teaming up with London poet Will Burns at The Black Box (3.45pm) for a live performance of material from their recent Chalk Hill Blue team-up LP – expect synth-powered verse flecked soundscapes galore – before acclaimed local singer/songwriter/experimentalist Joshua Burnside plays an intimate gig at 1st Presbyterian Church in the evening.

Joshua Burnside plays an intimate gig at 1st Presbyterian Church on May 6

Belfast just can't get enough of Rufus Wainwright, it seems: both his upcoming CQAF appearances on Monday May 6 at the Marquee and Tuesday May 7 at St Anne's Cathedral sold out pretty much instantaneously, no doubt partially because both events are of an 'intimate solo performance' nature.

If you missed out on tickets for the former show, console yourself by checking out hotly-tipped Irish trio Whenyoung at McHugh's. This reliably colour coordinated combo are coming straight outta Limerick via that London, peddling a nice line in catchy, dreamy indie pop – they've even been known to do a pretty mean cover of Cranberries classic Dreams on occasion.

And, if you tried and failed to secure Rufus tickets for the Tuesday night show, you can now snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat by seeing the amazing Anna Calvi instead: the petite guitar-toting musical powerhouse will be playing solo at the Marquee, so for the love of Zod don't miss her.

The awesome Anna Calvi will be playing a solo at CQAF Marquee on Tuesday

If Anna's not your bag, be advised that Squeeze legend Chris Difford is also in town on Tuesday evening for a solo performance at McHugh's, featuring songs from Squeeze and his solo work interspersed with potentially illuminating extracts from recent musical memoir Some Fantastic Place.

Anyone who makes it that far through CQAF's nightly programme of musical ents will likely already be feeling pretty wrecked, but those with deep reserves of stamina (and deeper pockets) would do well to try and get along to shows by the reliably entertaining Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Thursday May 9, CQAF, Marquee, 8pm), gospel-blues rocking throwbacks Daddy Long Legs backed by original Belfast punks Protex and rockabilly stalwarts The Sabrejets (Friday May 10, The Black Box, 8pm), South Korea's finest/only surf-rocking indie kids Say Sue Me (Saturday May 11, McHugh's, 8pm) and/or ex-Factory Records post punk groove merchants A Certain Ratio (Saturday May 11, The Black Box, 8pm) before crossing the finish line in fine Celtic rock style at the second night of Horslips Con 2019 (Sunday May 12, CQAF, Marquee, 7pm).

Indeed, there's plenty more where that lot came from, so hit up to get your plan of attack in order and be sure to raise a toast to 20 years of CQAF-promoted alternative music arts and culture in Belfast – and hopefully many more to come.

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