ulster life


by • August 29, 2019 • Entertainment, FeaturedComments (0)948

FOUR Belfast bands popular on the mid-90s live scene – centred around the short-lived and now legendary Rotterdam Warehouse on Pilot Street – will reunite on September 20th for an exclusive, one-off show at The Pavilion on Belfast’s Ormeau Road, in aid of nature charity Fauna & Flora International.

Those reuniting in full are STRAWMAN (Neil Young meets power-pop), STONEFISH (the Belfast Pearl Jam), THE BUSH TURKEYS (the Belfast Doobie Brothers) and in part, with key members, DISREALI GEARS (funky psychedelic rock).  PEACEFROG founder Davy McLarnon will appear in a guest spot.

The event is organised by music historian and author Colin Harper:

“I wrote for newspapers in the 90s and chronicled what now seems like a golden age for live music in Belfast,” said Harper.  “There were several great venues but the one that seemed to chime with the times was ‘The Warehouse’ on Pilot Street. It only ran for 18 months – late 1994 to early 1996 – and was a temporary home for the Rotterdam Bar, while publicans Chris Roddy and Ernie Magennis supposedly refurbished it.  They never did get around to that refurbishment but they unwittingly created a magical new environment – albeit for a moment!”

A glimpse of that moment was preserved on the double CD Alive in Belfast: The Warehouse Sessions, recorded in April 1995 and released locally that summer.  It captured sensational early performances from the likes of Cara Dillon, Foy Vance, Brian Houston, The Minnows, future Ivor Novello award-winner Iain Archer, future Snow Patrol founder Jonny Quinn, jazz guru Linley Hamilton and the late Henry McCullough, already a revered veteran on the scene.

Pavilion reunion acts DISREALI GEARS and THE BUSH TURKEYS were both on the album.  STRAWMAN and STONEFISH didn’t appear on the album but played the Warehouse many times and released a series of EPS and/or albums during that era.

Colin Harper continued: “I’ve recently been uploading a lot of local music to YouTube from the mid-90s Belfast scene – as a public service, really, often digitising stuff from long-forgotten cassette EPs – and this had a remarkable effect.

“Within half an hour of remastering and uploading the complete works of Stonefish, all three ex-members were ‘befriending’ me on Facebook.  I hadn’t seen any of them in 20 years!  A number of jolly pavement café get-togethers resulted from all this activity and the idea for a reunion event, for the fun of it, just came up naturally.  Warehouse publican Chris Roddy will be there. We may even put his name on the door!”

The four bands reuniting on this occasion were simply the first in the queue.  If the event proves popular, Harper will repeat the exercise, with further acts reunited.

Fauna & Flora International is endorsed by Sir David Attenborough: https://www.fauna-flora.org/

Tickets for the event are £11, limited to 150, and are available (search for ‘The Warehouse Remembered’) at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/

MAIN IMAGE: Colin Harper



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