Belfast has plenty of reasons to be pretty proud of itself. It built the Titanic, established itself as one of Europe's hottest food destinations and has a thriving cultural scene. And then there's the music.
Northern Ireland singer (and star of The Commitments), Bronagh Gallagher, explains: “If you are a blues head, if you are a reggae head, if you are a techno head, if you’re just a wee groover – there’s always somewhere in Belfast that’s doing it.”
This is a city that quite literally rocks. And it puts its heart and soul into it. If you want an example, take music icon Van Morrison, one of Belfast's true music greats.
He was playing in bands by the age of 12, hit stardom in 1967 with "Brown Eyed Girl" and is still touring at the age of 70. And when "Van the Man" came home to play a stunning birthday concert in Belfast, he could still move his fans to tears. Now that's talent.
Former Oasis and Beady Eye frontman Liam Gallagher also has a good idea about what makes the city’s music scene so special: “The people in Northern Ireland are always so up for it – they just get it.” Adele opened her 2016 world tour in Belfast, and Rihanna grabbed a microphone and shouted out “I love you, Belfast” while recording a video in New Lodge, in the north of the city, a few years ago.
Nourishing new talent
But Belfast isn’t just a place to listen to great music; it’s a place that’s creates it too. Van Morrison is arguably the city's biggest star but Belfast natives Ash and Snow Patrol have made it on the international stage.
Meanwhile, new talent keeps things fresh – thanks in part to the
Oh Yeah Music Centre. Ticking all the required boxes of music venue, recording studio and music exhibition, the Oh Yeah nourishes new talent on their way to the top and is one of the hottest gig venues in town.
Their most recent success story is Bridie Monds-Watson, a Derry~Londonderry native better known as SOAK, who released her debut album to critical acclaim in 2015.
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Regardless of how many platinum discs on the walls, though, Belfast keeps its feet on the ground. Terri Hooley, founder of iconic Good Vibrations record label and store says, “no matter who you are, when you’re back here in Belfast, whether in the pub or walking down the street, everyone tells you you’re rubbish”.
Luckily the rest of the world knows better.
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