A few weeks ago, I started posting YouTube montages of period cuttings, pics and audio from bands I enjoyed in the mid-90s in Belfast – often at a now legendary 18-month venue called ‘The Warehouse’, near the docks. That online activity led to renewed coffee shop get-togethers with a few people from back in the day… which led to a ‘Warehouse Remembered’ concert, featuring reunions and repertoire resurrections, at a current local venue (The Pavilion) in September!
It was literally an old warehouse, opposite The Rotterdam Bar – an isolated, down at heel old bar in the middle of nowhere that had become famous among the cognoscenti for hosting local and touring troubadours, folk, trad, soul, country,local rock and blues acts. Chris and Ernie, the proprietors of the Rott, vaguely planned to renovate it to moved their license to what became ‘The Warehouse’ in late 1994. (They never did – after 18 months or so they just moved back to the Rotterdam and it rumbled on for a couple more years, before everything around it was redeveloped or turned into car parks.)
The Warehouse became a fantastic venue – several times the size of the Rotterdam, coinciding with a vibrant scene of local music of all types at that time. In April 1994, I ran a multi-artist live recording session over four nights and we created a 2CD set ‘Alive in Belfast: The Warehouse Sessions’. It was the first place, for example, where one could hear singers Cara Dillon and Foy Vance, jazz instrumental icon Linley Hamilton, and an early showcase for several others who went on to sustain full-time careers in music, such as backroom songwriter Iain Archer, Snow Patrol drummer Johnny Quinn and the amazingly prolific Brian Houston.
Also featured were Paul Archer’s psychedelic rockers DISREALI GEARS and West Coast ‘yacht rockers’ the BUSH TURKEYS. Not on the album but around on the Warehouse scene just a little later were STRAWMAN (Neil Young distilled into radio-friendly pop-rock with vocal magic from Bruce McClements) and the mighty STONEFISH – a veritable cauldron of molten rock power trio led by the legendary Norman Boyd.
STONEFISH and STRAWMAN will reunite for the September gig and PAUL ARCHER and ALI MacKENZIE (plus original Bush Turkeys vocal sensation LUDO) will recreate the repertoire of their old bands for one night only.
We’re giving all the proceeds to Flora & Fauna International.
It’ll be legendary!