The Grand Opera House, Belfast -14th, 15th, 16th March 2008

Elaine Martin......
I first came across Brian's voice and music when 'You Raise Me Up' was released and played on Radio 2 - sort of a stop me in my tracks moment.  I decided I wanted to go to a concert and achieved this in the autum of 2002 at The Stables.

My next concert was the recording of the Live In Belfast DVD. Two contrasting venues and two very different perfomances.

Since then I have been fortunate to see Brian in concert many times, at venues as diverse as from a marquee on a Sunday afternoon at Middlewich Folk Festival, small venues such as The Stables or The Platform, St James Church Piccadilly, the Glasgow Concert Hall, and 3 or 4 times at the Waterfront Hall.

Over the years the music has varied, original songs, tradional songs, duets, sometimes with Brian looking oh so smart in a suit and at other times more relaxed in his t-shirt and jeans.  Those accompanying have been from just James Blennerhasset or Calum MacColl to a full band (+ the string quartet who were on the DVD).

Along the way I have met many and made good friends with some.  The Cloudy Bay Club was sort of 'born' in November 2005, the day after the concert in Belfast. The term just came about, from Catherine I think. Now, if the opportunity presents itself, several of us try to go to concerts and meet up, travelling together where possible, staying in nice accommodation, having dinner (as well as a glass or two of Cloudy Bay) and generally enjoying the company.  Then, there is The REASON WE ARE THERE, the concert.

The most recent of these trips was to Belfast on the 16th of February.  We went for the sensible option and travelled late morning/midday rather than in the early hours - stayed at The Europa, (next door to the GOH) had a delicious dinner just across the road, and then went on to the Grand Opera House.

I had an idea of what to expect having read the reviews posted from the Thursday evening concert.  Good though these were they could not quite capture the moment when the curtain went up and there, in the spotlight, was Brian in a bee-oo-tiful  suit, striking striped shirt, and VERY shiny shoes.  He started by singing 'Gaye', originally written and sung by the late Clifford T Ward.  A very different start to many of the previous concerts where Brian and the band have walked on stage and started playing, in keeping with the informality of the venue.  This was a gentle introduction which led onto a mixture of familiar songs including as 'Christopher Street',' Now That I Know What I Want', 'Red Sails In The Sunset' (not heard often enough),' Dangerous' (an ‘oldie’ not heard before live), three of my favourites, 'Message In The Box', 'Different God' and 'Life Love And Happiness', interspersed with several from 'Interpretations.

  I had been fortunate enough to hear 'Gaye' and'Gallileo' in Liverpool last year, both just get better.  And then there was 'Brown Eyed Girl'.  I love the Van Morrison version but the song has been transformed to have a very different ‘feel’ to it.  A compliment I believe to the original writer, whoever has done the arrangement,  and the band and singer on the night.  The audience were invited to join in the chorus to – oooooh it was hard to remember the words. Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la – la-la-la-la te da – la te da.  As the band were also on stage (and very good they were too) Brian left his guitar on its stand for more than usual and ....... we had many of his ‘moves’.  Anyone who has been to concert will not need me to explain any further.

All too soon we were hearing 'You Raise Me Up', followed by (unusually) 'Life Love and Happiness'.  A different ending to the evening too as most of the concerts I have been to Brian has closed with 'You Raise Me Up' – leaving on a calm, peaceful, note.  This time many of the audience were up out of their seats, clapping and singing along.

Post concert in the foyer gave numerous of The Forum members the chance to say Hello face to face.  We nearly missed the signing queue, and hastily tagged on the end.  Brian was his usual amenable self – but the member of staff from the GOH must have had a bus to catch as he rushed us all through – repeating that it all had to be over and done with by 11 o’clock!  A situation I have not come across before at any venue.

I am of the opinion that Brian is a singer/songwriter/musician who frequently challenges himself, taking himself in different musical directions with nearly every album.  This makes his live concerts varied – but a new description came into my head after this concert – sophisticated.  The songs, their presentation and the music. Those of you who are going to the concerts in Ireland later in April – you are in for a treat – be in no doubt.

Jules C......
What a nice way to spend St Valentine's Day (or Single Awareness Day as my friend has dubbed it for those of us without significant others), with a very charming man for musical company.

I'm sitting next to the GOH in the Europa Hotel, thinking back on a very enjoyable show. I have no doubt that Brian is still signing tour books, CDs, books and tickets as I write, bless him. For those of you who care about such things, he was looking very trim and stylish in a dark grey suit coupled with a tailored stripey shirt in reddish and purplish colours.

He was announced, the red plush curtain rose to reveal Brian, James Blennerhassett, Pat Gribben, Liam Bradley and new boy Shane McVicar (I think) on keyboards. Brian launched straight into 'Gaye', which was every bit as beautiful as I remembered from last time. We'll let him off for repeating one verse and missing another completely.

Next came the classic 'Get It Right Next Time', which I think is going to be a real crowd pleaser.

Especially for Valentine's Day came 'For One Kiss' which, frankly, made my evening. Beautiful, beautiful song.

Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together' was next and what can I say but Wow! Stunning. A favourite song of mine and I did wonder if anyone could possiby live up to the original but Brian's version was just gorgeous.

'Galileo' was next, simple and moving as ever. Tara Blaise was sitting next to me on the steps throughout Brian's set and I'm sure she sighed at this one. Or maybe that was me. LOL!

When Brian said he was going to do a Sweetmouth song, I was so sure it was going to be 'A Prayer to St Valentine', given the date but no, we were treated to an amazing version of 'Dangerous'. Fabulous stuff.

Back on familiar ground next with the 'Curragh of Kildare', a guaranteed crowd pleaser with the traditional singalong and wiggling of derriere, then Brian lowered the pace for 'A Better Man', sung perfectly as ever.

Another nod to St V's day followed, with a song which mentions Valentine's night, the gorgeous 'Silver Hearts on Chains'.

'Now That I Know What I Want' was next, followed by another new one from 'Interpretations', the simply breathtaking 'Answer Me'. I may have blubbed a little during this. I certainly was a little moist of eye. It's such a wonderful love song.

A real highlight of the night for me was a slow version of Van's 'Brown Eyed Girl'. It was fantastic. I'm so used to it being an uptempo song that it blew me away. Amazing.

The pace picked up again with 'Get On With Your Short Life', 'Captured' and 'Different God' (Belfast style..."That's a different God to my God, so it is" ) and finished as it so often does with 'Put The Message In The Box'. The encore took a little time to come, as Brian was indulging in a fair bit of banter with the crowd, amid the usual cries of "We love you Brian", one of which came from a very deep voice, to which Brian responded "I hope your cold gets better soon, madam".

'You Raise Me Up' finished the show as usual and, as usual, evoked a standing ovation. A fabulous evening. over far too soon but at least I get to do it all again tomorrow. Brian did ask if anyone was coming all three nights and, on hearing some excited squeals from the crowd, clarified that he meant to the shows. LOL!

I resisted the urge to buy a t shirt but I am now going to settle down with a drink to read through the rather impressive tour book. Nice one, Brian.

Claire George.....

Oh my goodness where do I begin... My first BK concert after travelling 4000 miles and months of longing to see him. The Opera House in Belfast is beautiful, the evening began with Tara Blaise as the support act, she was wonderful, dressed in a black strapless dress with cerise pink tights and silver shoes...... Loved every song fantastic talent....

Then BK took to the stage...The curtain went up and he sang 'Gaye' he said from the soon to be released CD!! Don't ask me what came next I was in heaven.... Songs from the evening where heavily based from the new album..'Get It Right Next Time', 'Let's Stay Together', 'Galiello', and 'Brown Eyed Girl' ( sorry first time not for me!)

The eveing was intermixed with 'Message In A Box', 'Get On With Your Short Life', 'Sliver Hearts', 'Christopher Street', 'Ballard of Killaloe, and 'Different God'.

Sorry my head is spinning from excitement I can't remember much. Although he (Brian) did ask who was there for all 3 nights and me and my friend screamed so loudly he wondereed if an ice cube was involved!!!

Did the signing after, Sonia will prove I exisit!!! Lovely to meet him although my friend was so loud he whispered to me "is she mental!" Looking forward to tomorrow. Brian you said you read this so it was worth the journey you are a huge talent please keep creating!!

Sonia Boylan......
Absolutely brilliant gig!!! Reminded me of 'Live In Belfast' all over !!! Something I wish I had of been at!!! Rite here we go for "my famous" reviews!!! (have to get my creative thinking hat on!)

Started off with Tara Blaise absolutely brilliant singer!! Never really heard of her before !!! and she's sooo innocent the way she acts on stage, its like your looking at a wee 12 year old!!!

Then curtain went down after Tara finished for a 15 min interval. I sat there in the front row sooo excited!!! and it was actually 20 mins i waited cus i kept on looking at my watch!! ( and I had nothing to nosy at because i was in row 1 right in front of the microphone!!)

Then all you can hear was the band starting up and the curtain lifts for us only to see Brian and his band standing there!!! ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my God!!! is all i can say!! Nw suit and a purple shirt!! (you'll say the same when you see the pictures!!) He has lost some weight and he is just scrumptous!!! The band was Liam Bradley, James Blenerhassett, Pat Gribben and Shane McVictor.

Started with:
Get It Right Next Time
For One Kiss (Nearly died when I heard this one!! I've waited so long for that song to be played!!!)
Better Man
Answer Me, My Love (Never heard of this song but absolutely gorgeuous!!)
Let's Stay Together (Karen can back me up on that one!!)
Now That I Know What I Want
Brown Eyed Girl (and Im not saying in a bad way here, but he did get one line wrong and he was really kickin himself over it, cus i could see him tellin James once the song had finished, cus james wasnt on stage!! but believe me Brian you did wonderful!!!)
Silver Hearts On Chains
Curragh Of Kildare
Different God ( What I found soo funny was at the end of the song he went in a Belfast accent "Thats a Different God from my God!!!) sounds better if u say it out loud!! and what was good was when he sings the part about the devil he puts his hands on his head to pretend hes a devil so funny!!)
Dangerous (He said he wanted to sing this because the last time he preformed in the GOH was with Fairground Attraction)
Christopher Street
Ballad Of Killaloe ( This is such an emotional song for Brian I just dont know how he sings it!! you can actually see the pain in his face when he sings it! )
Get On With Your Short Life
Put The Message In The Box

A a jam packed nite full of so many songs i havent heard live before!!! Throughout the show he was having the craic with every1! even asked "is there any1 comin everynite????" and couple of people screamed and he said " i meant to the gigs!!" and when he did a woman screamed sooo loudly that he thought it was an ice cube moment or a cold hand touching somewhere! (which i later guessed correctly was Sandy). Also towards the end 2 people threw up roses which he kissed and said "two roses belong together!"

He then went off stage and was greeted with screaming to get him back on stage!! where he started talking to the audience about how nice it was to be back in Belfast and that he felt so proud to be bringing back this album, he then accused people of being drunk as he could hear the vodka bottles hitting against the hairbrush in a womans bag! (dont no how he knows that but anyway...!) Somebody then shouted up its the sound of Belfast!! to which he laughed to!

He then finished with 'You Raise Me Up' where at the end he got a standing ovation! which I thought was very nice and well deserved !