Foy Vance // Ulster Hall, Belfast // 5th December 2016
My first full time job was a youth worker in a church in Bangor. I remember being there for a week or so whenever I heard a song come on someones iPod that I recognised but had never heard the voice before.
'She was more like a beauty queen, from a movie scene'
I was mesmerised and kept hitting repeat. When I enquired about who this guy was singing Billie Jean, I felt like I was being let into a Bangor secret.
Don't know if this mans' talent was ever a secret or I was just late to the party but I have been following and loving the music of Foy Vance ever since.
After being in touch with his management I was invited down last Monday night to the Ulster Hall to photograph the whole night from start to finish including getting photos of the band with their final Movember efforts [well done lads]
This was the first of a two show run in the Ulster Hall, the second being tonight of Foy's three studio albums; his latest, The Wild Swan, is the one I have given least attention to. I don't know why. I just wasn't getting it.
When Foy plays live, he creates an energy in the room that few others can. I have experienced this energy many times. One of my favourites was a surprise Christmas gig he did in a brilliant small pub/club in Belfast called The Menagerie. It was once owned by local DJ and producer David Holmes. During the build up to the gig there was music being played over the sound system that really moved me, I remember going up to the sound guy [who I then later realised was David Holmes himself] and asking what the music was and he, full of animation told me it was a small singer songwriter from America he had been introduced to called Bon Iver. He told me to go buy his new album 'For Emma, forever ago'. So the night after I called into HMV in Belfast and picked up the CD and it has been one my most played albums ever.
Both Bon Iver and Foy have moved their music careers forward both in the creation of music and in public recognition.
Monday I was honoured to witness the best Foy show I have ever seen on almost every level. The size of the venue [sold out over two nights], THE BAND, the production, the arrangement, song selection, support acts [Dana Masters & Ryan McMullan], crowd... etc etc.
People who are heading into Belfast tonight to see the final show of a long tour leg are in for an early Christmas gift. A gift FULL of emotion, passion and traditional Foy humour.
The Wild Swan has been an ever present sound in my ears this week, with a feeling that the trick that I missed on its initial release, I have finally caught the heart of it at this show. I now with slight embarrassment say, I get it!