I think it’s safe to say in Northern Ireland we are blessed with a fantastic music scene. With a captial city small enough to unite everyone when in need and venues in all sizes to cater everyone from the singer/songwriter or the global touring act. We have seen many bands try and conquer – some have been successful, some have unfortunately disbanded. We have surrounding towns and cities who are trying to make their own mark from Warrenpoint to Portrush. Since our launch onto the scene, we revisit and have a look in depth at the local music scene and go through a series of the Most Influential Things since launch in 2009. Without further ado, let’s us begin with our Top Ten Most Influential NI Acts.
10. Runaway GO
I think it’s obvious already that we are big fans of Runaway GO. They have lately been creating one hell of a storm supporting some big acts such as BAFTA-nominated Bastille and going from strength to strength with festivals to boot. But our reason for including them is the fact they show how hard work and determination will make you succeed. When I look back to all of the gigs I have attended, Deadlights EP Launch will never leave my head. Kagura supported them that night, now known as Runaway GO. The electrifying vocal combination of Fiona O’Kane and Dave Jackson, coupled with pop hooks and deliciously crafted songs, never leave your mind and left shivers rolling down my spine. 2014 will be a strong year for Runaway GO and their presence for the last 4-5 years cement their place in my Top 10 Most Influential Artists.
9. Team Fresh
A band who completely forgot to read the book on “How to be a generic act who fades into the background”. And we love them for it. Team Fresh’s brand of passionate rap fused with guitar leaves the country eating out of the palm of their hands. From the North, this act is equipped with the talent and intentions to try and conquer. Since 2009, we’ve known them to be a collective of musicians from other bands and a handful of friends. Their Northern Irish twang reverberates through their tracks and would prove to be a true example of original Northern Irish music beyond these waters.
8. Trucker Diablo
Working their way through Northern Ireland faster than a 18-wheeler, Trucker Diablo’s brand of whiskey-influenced rock make you pump your fists into the air to the sound of now-legendary tracks such as ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ and ‘Juggernaut’, featuring Thin Lizzy frontman Ricky Warwick. The classic rock scene in Northern Ireland was already well-placed to take on further afield when the developing Trucker were still working hard at it. However Trucker Diablo’s rise to festival appearances and huge supports slots are no surprise when riffs and gritty vocals succeeded in catching the consumers grip and the attention of radio listeners nationwide and afield.
7. Panama Kings
The now disbanded Panama Kings left a legacy behind. The act had a huge collection of passionate followers who followed them everywhere just waiting to hear tracks such as ‘Children’ and ‘Golden Recruit’ played live to the masses. Lead singer Niall Kennedy’s moustache and high-pitched vocals acted as their brand and helped distinguish them from others. Now split up and into their own ventures, including some exploring with other bands, Panama Kings will live on through their music and the memories of gigs past.
6. Duke Special
Easily identified with the dreadlocks and grand piano, Duke Special’s emergence on the music scene many years ago led the rise of acts all around the country. Still seen as one of the country’s greatest acts, Duke Special’s knack of creating a catchy tune never goes unnoticed as hundreds flock to each show that is announced and continues the special unity with his fans and the people of Northern Ireland. With shows in venues such as The Empire, Grand Opera House and appearances at festivals nationwide, Duke Special will be remembered as one of the greats that will go down in Northern Irish music history.
5. Mojo Fury
With a crazy addiction to crafting complicated delightful songs with basslines and riffs suitable for a wizard, Mojo Fury have come from a reasonably modest past and went on to become one of the country’s finest acts. With songs like ‘Origami Bird’ and ‘We Should Just Runaway’, the Lisburn act have influenced bands, new and established, to create their own brand of alternative rock and try to recreate the delicately-poised rhythms and timings to encourage those alike to hop on their bandwagon. As original pioneers, and talented musicians with a vision, Mojo Fury easily make it into our Top Five.
4. A Plastic Rose
If I was to ask you to listen to only one track to summarise Northern Ireland’s music scene, it would be one from A Plastic Rose. With festival-powering songs like ‘All You Know Will Love and Die’ and ‘Kids Don’t Behave like This’, the four-piece easily fit into our list as we confidently believe they have inspired the bands who we are witnessing now to take the first step into music and try to become a successful band. With the release of their debut album “Camera. Shutter. Life.” and taking life to Nottingham, the band’s pursuit of success continues to further demonstrate the persistence and sacrifice needed in order to live the dream.
3. And So I Watch You from Afar
No words are needed. That’s their motto. The rise of instrumental act ASIWYFA was one of pure excellence and their relationship with Northern Ireland is tight-knit. From ‘Set Guitars to Kill’, the band have went on to travel the world showcasing themselves at every opportunity whether they find themselves in Russia, western Europe or North America. Their endurance and determination to play is unrivalled and no doubt regularly find themselves feeling on top of the world when playing at shows, adored by their fans whatever the conditions or venue.
2. Two Door Cinema Club
A band that when we launched in 2009 were supporting an act in the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast. We still think it is crazy at how fast they were forced into stardom and fame. Kitsuné, the French label, are responsible for this. Taking the band from venues sold out at 150 people to stadiums and fields conquering the tens of thousands, it’s hard to take in. ‘Undercover Martyn’ and ‘I Can Talk’ went on to become sensations and adored by millions worldwide. Easily one of the best Northern Irish bands and sparked the creation of many similar bands around the country, some who look destined to replicate their success. Another inspiration to many.
1. Snow Patrol
Holders of the biggest music concert in Northern Ireland with over 40,000 at Ward Park, it was Snow Patrol’s homecoming show after platinum-selling album ‘Eyes Open’ featuring the classic “Chasing Cars”. From their near break-up and playing to a small number of people in bars in Glasgow, someone finally took a chance and the rest is history. With persistence and the love of music, ‘Run’, ‘Spitting Games’ and ‘Take Back the City’ are only a small number of the band’s epic hits that will never be forgotten by fans around the world and easily cement the place as Northern Ireland’s number one most influential band and the leading example to show why persistence always pays off.
Thanks for taking the time to read through the list. We hope you enjoyed reading and hopefully agree with us on some. If you don’t, I hope you create the discussion and bring it up with your friends to realise the list could be huge. Don’t forget, please tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter. We love a chat!