Steven and Sean paid the SSE Arena a visit last Friday to check out Irish pop sensations Picture This perform the first Arena show as part of their 2017 UK and Ireland tour. The band were supported by Dublin’s finest The Coronas and homegrown talent Catherine McGrath. Here’s what Sean had to say about the night’s proceedings…
Young NI local Catherine McGrath opened up the night with her delightful country tracks that put the early birds in the SSE in a great mood for the acts to follow. An exceptional talent, Catherine has already started making waves in the UK and Ireland, receiving praise from Picture This themselves in an interview with Treason magazine in September. The duo hailed her as one of their favourite emerging Irish artists and it was fitting that she would be the one to open up for them on the first leg of their tour.
Read our interview with Picture This by clicking here
Dublin boys, The Coronas, kicked things into another gear, starting their main-support set with 2 of their upbeat indie-rock tracks; ‘Real Feel’ and ‘Get Loose’. The latter track laying the platform for an energetic atmosphere in the arena with strong riffs and disco beats on the drums. They used their vast live experience to allow the middle part of their set to settle down into their more subtle anthemic tracks which was perfectly demonstrated with the fan favourite ‘We Couldn’t Fake It’. This is the time in the set where The Coronas seem to thrive, their sound is made for filling arenas effortlessly.
Songs like ‘What A Love’ draw incredible affection from the audience towards the band, allowing Danny O’Reilly to control them to clap and chant when he wants them to. The crowd which continued to fill up the SSE Arena, got more involved with the music as the set went on. When The Coronas finally broke out into ‘Just Like That’ to conclude their slot, you felt that the crowd would have been more than happy for them to stay on for another half hour. I suppose this will serve as a teaser for those in the crowd wishing to see them at their Ulster Hall show in a few weeks time. As that atmosphere continued to grow for the band there was also the feeling of increasing anticipation for who they themselves described as “one of the most exciting bands in the world right now,” Picture This.
I almost lost my hearing from all the screaming as the lights were turned off to indicate Picture This‘ arrival to the stage. You would be excused for thinking you had travelled back in time to the height of Beatlemania as the band’s logo, accompanied by a compilation of videos of their previous tour, was projected on the massive screen that covered the stage. When the curtain dropped, the band emerged as silhouettes in front of a bright white screen on top of a 2-tiered stage to kick off their first headlining arena show with a track called ‘Let’s Be Young’ followed by ‘I Don’t Why’. These 2 songs issued a statement to the audience with confetti cannons being fired at the end of the first and the second being the first time Ryan had waltzed the walkway to address the fans personally. I believe that this was intentional, they wanted to let the crowd know that they weren’t easing their way into Arena shows, this is where they belong and they were going to do it the right way from the beginning. It’s incredible that the band played Belfast for the first time just over a year ago in a comparatively diminutive setting in Mandela Hall to their now sold out gig in such a large arena. The occasion felt like a milestone in the rapid development of an act that continues to raise their own bar to extraordinary levels.
Something that must be pointed out is the musical abilities displayed by Ryan, Jimmy and the rest of their band during their performance. Jimmy in particular is an exceptional musician, the fifth song in the set ‘Carry On’ was a particular demonstration of some of his best traits. He continued to be the main contributor to the vocal harmonies in the song while simultaneously carrying out some of their most complex sounding drum fills. During ‘Pretend’, he even took guitar duties off Ryan. This was during a period of the set that the band had set themselves up at the end of the walkway to play right next to the fans. The performance became a lot more intimate here which is an atmosphere the band have regularly tried to create. In my interview with Ryan and Jimmy, they told me that they enjoy playing intimate shows in small venues for their biggest fans to give them thanks and I believe made this move for the same reason.
They went on to generate an electric atmosphere with their new single ‘Addicted To You’, ‘Saviour’ and the hair-raising ‘Smell Like Him’ which was performed with great emotional effect. Ryan went full on ‘TAPS AFF’ (as they say around here) during crowd favourite ‘You and I’. The band came off stage but were quickly called back with chants of OLÉ OLÉ OLÉ. If anyone hadn’t been standing already, they were now. This was Picture This in their zone. Rain poured down on the stage during the song ‘Never Change’ and Ryan just soaked it up as he had soaked up the gratitude of the crowd all evening.
Their last song was the one we had all been anticipating, the one that sums up the band’s dramatic rise and journey to where they are now, the incredible ‘Take My Hand’. At this point the band were seriously competing with the crowd to be heard, every corner of the Belfast venue was belting out the lyrics. It served as the perfect way to see out a massive and successful night for the Irish duo who should be very excited to see what their future holds, but for that night at least, Picture This ruled Belfast.
Click the photo below to view the full gallery on our official Flickr page!
Words: Sean McDonnell
Photos: Steven Donnelly
Special thanks to Aiken Promotions for letting us cover the event!