Tennent’s Vital takes over Boucher Road Playing Fields for another year as it opens its gates to over 40,000 music lovers ready for another two days full of great music.
For yet another year running we were treated to a diverse and star-studded line-up, catering to a variety of music tastes with both days boasting 5 acts each.
Sunday 30th August concluded the concert with The Script taking to the stage for round 2, having previously headlined in 2011. Along with the Irish pop rock band the crowd, armed with wellies and floral head-bands galore, had Kodaline, Annie Mac, Clean Bandit and Jack Savoretti to look forward to.
Accompanied by the sun, his guitar and a filtering in crowd Jack Savoretti kicked off the day. Providing both music for those still entering and a fantastic set for those already in and waiting, the Italian English acoustic singer performed hits such as ‘The Other Side of Love’ and ‘Written in Scars’ from 2015 album ‘Written in Scars’.
The sun got brighter and the crowd only grew as next act Clean Bandit bounced onto stage armed with a plethora of instruments. The band’s familiar classical music sound founded upon and intertwined with electronic bursts was a perfect welcome to the still entering crowd. Playing hits like ‘Real Love’ combined with a cover of classic ‘Show Me Love’ the band demonstrated their genuine talent as well as their obvious love for what they do.
They were in no way hindered by the crowd not being at full capacity and the main encouragement for those that were there was the band’s intoxicating energy and enjoyment of being on stage. It was like we had walked into a jam session between a group of friends and we were all welcome – the crowd dancing to every beat.
There was no doubt surrounding who was to follow as neon palm trees and a huge banner appeared, decorating the stage for Annie Mac. Perhaps the act people would point out as least fitting in the lineup, (but a treat nonetheless), the DJ set immediately launched the whole crowd into steady dance frenzy maintained throughout. Whether they had set up camp with a picnic blanket or were running towards the bar everyone in the crowd couldn’t help but give at least a vigorous head nod, with the sun shining and music vibrating from one side of the field to the other. This was the point of the day when the half-walk, half-dance was in its prime with people trying to get a mix of both going as they made their way across the field – feelin’ that beat all the while running for a pee, ain’t nothing stopping the party folks.
Continuing the Irish trend, Kodaline dandered onto the stage to a screaming crowd and introduced their set as a mix between both their second and debut album. The crowd were hooked from the first song and the encouragements from the band only reeled them in more. The intimacy that usually comes along with Kodaline gigs is one big fans would hold onto and only begrudgingly let go of, but the command the four guys have on even a crowd as big as this soon dissolves that. The set demonstrated perfectly how the band can make music so delicate still hypnotise a crowd of over 40,000 people, with the people from the very front to the very back still immersed in the emotion of their songs.
They swapped between soft acoustics like 2015 hit ‘The One’, written as a wedding present to the band’s good friend, and well-known singles that crescendo into powerful instrumentals and singalongs from the crowd like ‘High Hopes’ with complete ease and the crowd were more than happy to shout back every word. The band then had to depart but we soon learned it wasn’t goodbye with the announcement they will be stopping in Belfast for their UK tour to play at the Waterfront in December (tickets out Friday 4th September boys and girls.)
As time passed the crowd of thousands knew it was time to take their place in anticipation for the day’s headliner. The playing fields were plunged into darkness and a video of a live handheld camera flashed up on screen as heavy music began to get louder and louder.
Against the screams and rising music a countdown began, only making the screams louder and the suspense almost unbearable. The video switched from the band’s faces to what appeared to be a row of green flags covered in lights walking through a crowd. It took the crowd about 0.5 seconds of ‘what the hell is that’ before the crowd realised The Script were somewhere in the middle of us and the screams got louder.
The band stormed onto stage to ‘Paint the Town Green‘ bursting through the speakers with the crowd right in the palm of their hand. It was evident from the beginning this was a new version of The Script – not a replacement for the band we know and love but simply a heavier twist on their music that was whole-heartedly welcomed by the crowd. From there we were delivered a beyond satisfying mix of classic script and new hits with just the right amount of in between.
Danny charmed the crowd, harking back to the last time they played here and exclaiming how happy there were to be back to such familiar faces. He reminded us what a Belfast crowd is known for – their keenness to snatch literally any opportunity to yell songs as loud as humanly possible and create the atmosphere that makes a concert. When it comes to classic Script songs there seems to be literally no refusing the dark force in your body that insists on singing every word like you’ve just lived the most emotional moment of your life. With that in mind the crowd needed little encouragement to make the songs their own and happily dived into a good old fashioned sing-off. Danny split the crowd for ‘Together We Cry’ and each side battled it out as Danny exclaimed ‘that’s the Belfast we know!’
Danny soon made thousands of girls (and boys – he’s a charmer) dreams come true by throwing himself into the crowd. During ‘You Won’t Feel a Thing’ he made his way through the crowd as the rest of the band played on – half plunging towards Danny to touch his sweet skin and the other half creating enough noise for everyone, singing along to every word.
The whole set went like this – there wasn’t a moment of waiting but instead complete suspense – after nearly every song we were plunged into darkness again almost holding our breath to see what would come next.
After a brief encore that only the most idiotic (drunk) of us could have believed was the end of the set we were treated to songs we were all holding out for. ‘For the First Time’ is almost definitely a song the band will always sing live mainly because of the response it gets from the crowd (/if they don’t want to die at the hands of thousands of fans) – a response that even had the whole band standing in awed silence. It’s a song that constantly creates moments like this but you can tell how much they appreciate every one.
Following this came strict instructions from Danny – ‘What I want everyone to do is everyone get their phones out for this. I want to make a fucking moment here. Not one just for Tennent’s Vital, not one for just a month, not one for just a year but one for the rest of our lives.’
Introducing it with a speech about the importance of music as a way to unite a crowd the band exploded into ‘Hall of Fame’ – evidently the song a majority of the crowd were holding out for.
It was an end to the set but there was no one that could walk away unhappy. The band bowed and thanked the crowd and Danny informed us they will be taking a break to make some more music but vowed they will back even better. The roar of the crowd slowly dwindled as The Script exited the stage and left hanging in the air was the falling confetti and lingering energy that always follows such a highly anticipated and highly enjoyed show. Until next time! Clare Hogarth, GiggingNI.com