the Duke at the waterfront hall

For those of you not in the know - the gentleman above is Duke Special aka Peter Wilson, a Belfast based singer who has had a truly amazing year. He's always had a very faithful local following - one of the first fun things Julie and I did when we moved to Belfast was go see him play at The Empire - I think it was October. Anyway, since then he has signed with V2, played some huge gigs and travelled the globe to perform his incredible songs. Last night he played with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast's Waterfront Hall - it was a special free concert organised by BBC Radio Ulster, the cathedral Arts festival and I think there was some lottery money in there also (thanks Jul).

The duke's set was amazing and his songs sounded so good with the full orchestra. Another local act on the rise, Foy Vance, also played a short set - On the basis of last night things will be getting big for Foy - incredible voice and some great songs. He's already been handed the accolade of having one of his songs used on Grey's Antanomy (read: worst show ever, but loved by my wife - oh mc Dreamie etc, Meredith Grey - did I hear you say narcissistic?) - anyway don't think badly of Foy if you hate Grey's - his, as yet unnamed, debut album is out next month.

Speaking of narcissistic - the award winning Julie Feeney was also on the bill. According to the blurb - Julie Feeney has 15 masters degrees and composed, arranged and probably decided on the seating plan for the entire event. One review of the event suggested "The music is also edgy and this informed classical scholar resists the temptation to put fluffy strings on everything."

I think this misses the point - if you've got a 65 person orchestra you should make the best possible use of it - I could see some of the underused members of the Orchestra sitting looking pretty fed up for long periods of Julie's song cycle - More Foy and more Duke would have been better - perhaps they don't have the classical training and numerous masters degrees, but they've got the tunes and dare I say it, the soul.

Anyway - it was a great event - of course this is Belfast so within 5 mins I'd bumped into my old boss from Starbucks and saw a bunch of other people I knew.