Also Ran (noun)
- a contestant, horse, etc, failing to finish among the first three in a race
- an unsuccessful person; loser or nonentity.
The above might not mean anything to some but for followers of the NI music scene, ‘Also Ran’ means something else altogether – a song and a six-piece web series that’s been described as ‘two losers trying to navigate their way in the choppy waters of the independent music scene’ and gathered somewhat of a cult following. Omagh born singer/songwriter turned scriptwriter Mick McCullagh also known as ‘Son of The Hound’ has had us hooked on ‘The Also Rans’ since episode one and six episodes later, on what is a cold Thursday night in Belfast we’re celebrating its success with ‘The Also Rans’ Party! Son of The Hound with support from Brash Isaac.
Taking to the stage a little later than expected, Brash Isaac start the show, opening with ‘If’ an intense alt rock track that tackles anxiety and the uncertainty of one’s own potential. Moments later, Andrew Cameron welcomes us to the Also Rans party and drops the first reference of the night, “Where are the Barps at?” a cocktail made up of Belfast’s finest Harp.. and a banana. If you’ve watched the miniseries it will all make sense, if you haven’t, well get to it pronto [first episode above]!
Brash Isaac continue their impassioned set, showcasing both new music and old, with ‘See The Light’ and ‘The Radiator’. It’s a solid set from the Belfast-based singer/songwriter and his bandmates who just continue to go from strength to strength. The band close their set with infectious alt/rock track, ‘In The Dark’. Cameron and Kim display their vocal harmonies one final time, charming the crowd once before they disappear of the stage. Cameron has set the bar high in developing and honing a sound that is destined for big things.
The floor fills for Son of The Hound who take to the stage to chants of “Barps! Barps Barps!” (clearly a now iconic Norn Iron cocktail) and open the set with 2016’s ‘I.O.U.’ and judging by crowd reaction, it’s safe to say the party was now in full swing. “This might be the best f*ckin night of my life cause you are all so f*ckin brilliant” say’s Mick to a hyped-up audience. Followers of Mad Notions (Mick’s podcast with fellow musician Nathan O’Regan), followers of The Also Rans and music fans who’ve come out for decent tunes and a beer or two, all under the one roof – The atmosphere is electric!
What’s obvious when these guys are on stage is not only how much talent they all undeniably have but how much fun they have playing together. The hard work has paid off and they are giving it 100%. Mick chats to the crowd once more, asking for a well deserved round of applause for the band, Fearghal, Barry and Dave and not forgetting a round of applause for Ronnie, “RIP”. Fans of the series will get this reference and the room is full of them as they follow it up with chants of “he lives!”.
Up next we have, ‘Sing’ a rock ‘n’ roll number and another new alt/rock track, ‘Stones Across The Lake’ it’s heavier than the others, both highlighting the bands talent as musicians and their ability to cross genres.
By this stage the crowd are fully immersed in the performance. There is an incredible energy on stage, it’s clear to see how proud Mick is of this project and that is clearly resonating with the cheering crowd. ‘Shadows’, ‘I Wanna Live’ are next, followed by Mick shouting out a massive thank you to Colm Laverty, without whom ‘The Also Rans’ wouldn’t be what it is. ‘You Are Alive’ is played next followed by the one we have all been waiting for, ‘The Also Rans’ theme song. However, Mick isn’t singing this alone as the entire crowd join in on every word – You know you have a big hit on your hands when everyone sings along the theme tune.
It’s been an emotional night for Mick and everyone who has been on his journey with him. The level of support and love felt throughout the room is huge. There is hugging, there are tears, to say it’s atmospheric is an understatement.
As the night draws to a close Mick asks the crowd “does anybody feel like there’s something missing?” Roars of “Tony! Tony! Tony!” fill the air and Tony Wright also known as VerseChorusVerse takes to the stage for a performance of his own track, ‘Shakedown Sally’. The gig finishes with Mick joining Tony for a rendition of The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’ before leaving the stage like any true frontman should, with a crowd surf – A fitting end to an incredible night.
Gig of the year without a doubt. Roll on series 2!
You can watch the full series of The Also Rans on Facebook here.