LIVE: Richie Sambora – Ulster Hall, Belfast

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I went to a night in the Ulster Hall with the desire to hear some blues and good old fashioned guitaring from a legend in Rock ‘N’ Roll, and I was not disappointed.

Coming into the venue I had previously heard that there was a competition for local talent to showcase songs for Richie Sambora, and the best one would fill the supporting slot for the evening. However that was not the case. Instead we got all five performers playing a song each, and making the most of an opportunity that Richie Sambora gave them.

The five artists and their tracks were a delight to watch from the soothing voices of Matthew Duly, Jonny Reid and Peter McVeigh, the echoing and sheer power of Ryan McMullan to the fast paced and rhythmic DBM.

Peter McVeigh was the first artist up with his song ‘When We Kiss’ and it was a great worked song with great vocals. Second was Ryan McMullan with Holdin’ Me Down and the stuff he does with a loop petal is outstanding mixed with his vocals, the Ulster Hall was a fantastic venue for him.

DBM was next with ‘Propane Nights’ and the stuff that guy can do with an acoustic guitar is fantastic, keeping very fast pace mixed with a great rhythm. Matthew Duly’s ‘Ghost in your Memory’ will be stuck in my memory for a while as it was as catchy as the rest of the songs and he performed it well.

Finally Jonny Reid’s ‘The Lights Will Shine in Tara’ was the last song of them all and it’s a great song, very catchy and just like Ryan McMullan and all the guys who performed, the Ulster Hall really amplified their tracks and their vocal abilities and made them shine like the true performers they all are.

After everyone had their moments on stage the crew prepared the rest of the stage for Richie Sambora’s band featuring Orianthi. As they took to the stage and opened with ‘Song for You’ followed by ‘Burn That Candle Down’ and ‘Every Road’  – you knew you were in for a treat.

During the set Richie Sambora gave the stage to Orianthi who is a fantastic guitar player and has her own collection of songs. She performed ‘You Don’t Wanna Know‘ acoustically and her vocals are fantastic mixing with her guitar playing ability, it was a great choice.

Now the night wouldn’t have been complete of course if Richie Sambora didn’t play any Bon Jovi songs. He played a few songs which were ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’, ‘These Days’, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ and the encore with ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’. But the best song of the night for me was a cover of Bill Withers ‘Lean on Me’ in which he invited all the five acts that opened for him back on stage to sing with him, and also praise them about their musical talents.

The whole night was a joy to behold not only for the power performance that Richie Sambora, Orianthi and the band put in, but also for the fact that Richie himself gave not one but five exceptional artists from Northern Ireland a chance to show Belfast, on probably the best stage in the country, what they do best. Matt Halliday, GiggingNI.com