No Alibis Presents: Watch Video of the Best Performances of 2010

David Torrens, owner of the crime bookstore, presents 2010's best performances, and anticipates the year ahead

For No Alibis, 2010 proved to be a very special year, both in music and literature. Established international musicians like Stephen Fearing, Brooks Williams, Dean Owens and Sara McQuade returned to the shop to full houses. Given the style and nature of these musicians, the venue afforded an intimacy that appealed to a listening audience.

On the 'dreams do come true' front, No Alibis managed to bring two giants of the indie/alt folk genre to the shop. In March, Willy Vlautin, front man of the Oregon-based band Richmond Fontaine, came along with Dan Eccles on lead guitar for a special, one-off gig with book reading: a magical evening made all the more special by the fact that Willy and Dan are two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

At the end of the year Robert Fisher, aka, The Willard Grant Conspiracy, played the store to another full house. And Northern Irish acts have had an equally exciting year. The economy may be shot, but the creative wealth of this small country is immense.

Ruby Colley continued to enthral audiences with her mesmerizing violin pieces and energy. Probably one of the most inventive and creative bands in the country have become regulars at No Alibis: Cat Malojian, with their mix of Californian cool, fiery banjo, 80’s synth and songwriting that Nick Drake would have been proud of, deserve to go very far indeed.

John Deery and the Heads, the Derry-Londonderry-based band, were a new addition to the music scene at No Alibis. Having originally played in support of a charity event in the bookstore, they were soon back for a solo show, and will be a regular feature for 2011.

A truly memorable night saw Mojo Fury play a sublime acoustic set, which had regular fans silent in wonderous awe. Joined by upcoming musicians Allie Bradley and Naoimh O’Hagan, it was a night of Northern Irish talent at its best.

Our final concert of the year featured two very exciting musicians, John D’Arcy and Isobel Anderson. D'Arcy's energy, style and lyrical quirkiness is reminiscient of early Elvis Costello. At the same time, the deeper more intimate nature of his songwriting gives pause for thought and reflection; a rare talent in a songwriter so young.

Isobel Anderson hails from Brighton, but has been studying in Northern Ireland for some time. Exhibiting the qualities of an early Suzanne Vega, but with the folk tradition of Ann Briggs, she not only manages to lend her own voice and style to the songs she has written but also to the cover versions she plays: a unique talent.

Of course No Alibis is also a bookshop. Last year we welcomed Jeff Lindsay (creator of the Dexter character); Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs, two of the world's leading forensic/medical thriller writers; Benjamin Black, aka John Banville; and long-time supporter of No Alibis, John Connolly. LA Times Award-winning novelist, Stuart Neville, who happens to hail from County Armagh, also launched his blistering new thriller Collusion, to a packed shop in June.

A major highlight was the return of James Ellroy, who launched his powerful memoir, The Hilliker Curse, this side of the pond. On that night, Neville interviewed Ellroy in front of almost 200 fans at the Waterfront Studio.

What, then, for 2011? Well, the programme is well under way. On the music front, Ursula Burns will be starting off our year on January 21. Red hot new talent in the form of Rainy Boy Sleep will perform the following week, on January 28.

On the crime writer front, February kicks off with a book launch: Simon Kernick's Pay Off. Kernick is the leading thriller writer in the UK, who regularly tops the bestseller lists. This will be his first visit to Belfast. For more information on upcoming appearances at the bookstore, visit www.noalibis.com.

In March, internationally acclaimed crime writer Robert Crais will be back to launch his latest novel, The Sentry, whilst Steve Tilston, a true giant in the world of singer/songwriters, will be playing and reading on March 18… and that’s just some of the fun ahead for 2011 in No Alibis.

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