Keep the faith
LIKE many music fans throughout Ireland and well beyond, Noise Annoys was shocked to hear about the sudden death of Runnin' Riot frontman Colin McQuillan earlier this week.
The gruff-voiced leader of Belfast's finest Oi band passed away in his sleep on Sunday night while on tour in England with The Old Firm Casuals. He was just 46.
Since then, tributes to 'the big man' (as he was known to many, and not just because he sang like a Buckfast-crazed Ian Paisley) from friends and fans have been flooding the Runnin' Riot Facebook page, the dedicated Colin Riot Appreciation Page and various webzines with the taste and distinction to have recognised the talents of Colin and his comrades.
As well as the expected expressions of shock and grief, there are also an ever-growing number of hilarious anecdotes, fond memories and general outpourings of love and affection for this superficially fearsome looking fella who actually was one of the nicest, big-hearted folks some of us were lucky enough to endure a good natured slagging from.
Runnin' Riot lived to play live and I saw them quite a few times over the years in various places around Belfast. I first spoke to Colin properly in 2010, when the band were supporting Dickie 'ex-Leatherface' Hammond's aptly monikered outfit The Dipsomaniacs at Lavery's, along with Scottish punks The Snipes - a Glasgow crew featuring former Cock Sparrer guitar man, Shug.
The Riot's excellent album Boots & Ballads had just come out and Colin made a point of thanking me for an enthusiastic review. I recall him laughing as he told me that his mum had even cut it out and put it on her fridge, which of course I was very pleased to hear.
We got to talking about how good The Snipes were, with Colin insisting on trailing me across the room to meet Shug.
I think his introduction went something like: "This is David, he likes your band. He's alright - for a f**kin' journalist."
Coming from Colin, a life-long trade unionist not known for mincing his words, I took that as a big compliment.
As far as I know, recording for the follow-up to Boots & Ballads began last year. Whether or not we'll get to hear those latest songs is probably the last thing on the minds of Colin's bandmates Marty, Ralph and Eden right now, but like every Runnin' Riot fan I hope that we'll one day get to hear the big man guldering a few more working class protest song anthems at us as only he could. It's perhaps a small comfort to know that Colin died while doing what he loved the most.
Indeed, The Old Firm Casuals, led by Rancid man Lars Frederiksen, have been soldiering on with their previously planned tour dates with the Riot boys' blessing.
Tonight, they hit Voodoo in Belfast for what should be an emotional but hopefully celebratory affair that will double as a fitting send off for one of the music scene's most loved characters. RIP Colin 'Riot' McQuillan - a true Belfast original.
Finally for this week, I've been asked to let you all know that Belfast's first ever Red Bull Music Academy Weekender event has just been announced for the end of September.
Nils Frahm, SKREAM, Terri Hooley, Noel Watson, Greg Wilson, Ashley Beedle, Chez Damier, Ryan Vail, The Juan McLean, Timmy Stewart and Twitch DJs are among those set to perform throughout the city between September 25 and 28.
For full ticket and programme details, visit Redbull.ie/rbmaweekender.
And, when you're finished there, be sure to fill the holes in your Runnin' Riot collection at Runninriot.bandcamp.com.