Queen’s Hall, Newtownards
7th April 2017

It’s hard to believe that 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Fleetwood Mac’s legendary ‘Rumours’.

The songs are timeless and have become famous the world over thanks to constant radio play and TV’s Formula One coverage.

Tonight finds us in the comfortable surroundings of the Queen’s Hall in Newtownards, Co. Down for a unique event staged by the Ards International Guitar Festival to celebrate the record release all those decades ago.

The house band for this show weighs pretty heavy on talent for the Northern Irish music scene. Anthony Toner, Matt McGinn, Suzy Coyle, Ken Haddock and Ellen Weir are among the many to grace the stage as the band plays the first half of the record.

Highlights are many but having to choose we’d go for Brigid O’Neil’s vocal on ‘Dreams’, Ken Haddock’s mighty take on ‘Don’t Stop’ and the Matt McGinn and Suzy Coyle version of ‘Go Your Own Way’.

At this stage, we also reckon Anthony Toner deserves a shout out for some fine electric guitar solos.

At the half way point in the album, the show takes a short break before launching into a musical interlude again featuring solo artists and bands from the Northern Irish music scene.

During this segment of the show we are treated to some instrumental and technically proficient guitar versions of songs from the record, but once again it’s the bands/singers who come out top.

Una Clarkin delivers a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘Songbird’, Wookalily treat us to a deep and melodic version of ‘Gold Dust Woman’, while The Lazy Flies give us a slightly melancholic ‘You Make Loving Fun’.

The surprise of the night goes to rock band Mosmo Strange who, with youthful energy, deliver a punchy version of ‘Never Going Back Again’.

Side two of the record sees the house band return to the stage with singer Ellen Weir taking prominence on the early tracks which more or less follow the running order of the record.

Again, we find it hard to single out individuals within the ensemble for praise, but when Becky Baxter steps up to the microphone to sing ‘Gold Dust Woman’ the whole audience takes notice. This youngster has talent and we’ll be watching out to hear more of this stunning voice.

When the end comes it is delivered in style. Held back in an almost teasing fashion ‘The Chain’, a favourite of bassists and Formula One fans around the world, sees almost every performer and band take to the stage to join guest vocalist Cormac Neeson from rock band The Answer to give us a stunning six guitar rocking version of the song that gets the audience out of their seats.

Putting a project of this scale together has obviously taken a lot of time and energy and full praise has to go to festival organiser and stalwart Paul McMordie.

It takes a lot of courage, belief, and cajoling of musicians to make something like this work and it was clear for all to see that anytime he was on stage he was having the time of his life playing those songs with some very talented musicians.

If you missed it this time, the show will be performed again on the 6th August in Belfast’s Black Box as part of the Belfast Guitar Festival. We wholeheartedly recommend checking it out.