Titanic Quarter, Belfast
18th August 2016
Once, again Belsonic have offered up a vast and varied lineup for their live music events on the famous slipways that launched the Titanic. In a summer of big names ranging from Tiesto to Biffy Clyro and Madness, it was the turn of The Corrs to light up the stage in the shadows of the iconic yellow cranes.
First, there’s the small matter of Declan O’Rourke and KT Tunstall warming up the Belfast crowd. Scottish songwriter, Tunstall, in particular, gets things going with news of a new record and a return to Belfast later in the year. She mixes new singles like ‘Maybe It’s A Good Thing’ with the infectious riffing of ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree‘, the latter descending into the now familiar ‘Seven Nation Army’ outro.
There are moments of retro, almost glam-rock, brilliance alongside more tender glimpses of the acoustic troubadour underneath. There’s a superb rendition too of The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, and there’s a crowd of a certain age ready to party.
That crowd consists of fans who have camped out since early morning, people who have travelled hundreds of miles, the Generation X folks reminiscing about the mid-90s and curious newcomers wanting to see just what all the fuss is about.
From the thundering drum intro to ‘I Do What I Like’, it’s clear this is not going to be the ballad-fest I’d imagined. Vocals and instrumentation are so on point, I catch myself daring to question if there might be a backing track on somewhere.
The truth is, they’re just damn good at what they do. And what they do has always been huge, catchy, pop singles with folk undertones. ‘Forgiven, Not Forgotten’ is the first of the real big-hitters, closely followed by ‘What Can I Do’, and ‘Radio’. Darkness is drawing in over the docks and Andrea suggests that Jim, Sharon and Caroline get us all partaking in “an outdoor session”.
This is where The Corrs are actually at their best, trading melodies on whistle and fiddle, getting feet stomping down by the lough, as the sounds of old Ireland float out across the water. Caroline, joins her sisters out front on bodhran for the heady reels of ‘Lough Erin Shore’, ‘Trout in the Bath’ and ‘Joy of Life’. There’s time too for a massive singalong to ‘Runaway’, an enduring pop classic, which oddly never troubled the top 40 on its release in 1995.
There are plenty more hits of that era though. The Corrs were, and still are, a singles band. This is the last night of the current tour, it’s a festival date and every single one of those greatest hits gets an outing. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ gets a run-out as does ‘I Never Loved You Anyway’, ‘So Young’ and ‘Breathless’. Regardless of musical tastes, if you ever switched on a radio in the 90s, you know these tunes.
It’s all been good, clean fun. Songs have been sung and a few new fans maybe even won over. There’s still time for one last dance, though. Boundless energy from a band who’ve been performing at this level for over twenty years now. ‘Toss The Feathers’ is one last traditional hurrah, one last chance to swing your partner or swap a good 90s story over a cold beer with friends. I don’t know about anyone else, but it left me breathless.