Tennant's Vital

Comebacks, comedowns and complaints: there was something for everyone at Boucher Playing Fields

When pop and rock royalty come to town, the people of Northern Ireland sure do like to stir up a fuss.

It happened when Rihanna filmed the video for 'We Found Love' at a County Down farm – when the songstress stripped down to her undies, the Christian farm owner was not best pleased – and it happened again this week when Tennant's Vital returned to Belfast.

A barnstorming performance by the Foo Fighters on Tuesday night was later overshadowed by 120 complaints made by members of the public from nearby residential areas, half of those formal complaints made to Belfast City Council.

Music magazine NME subsequently posted on their Twitter page: 'Foo Fighters draw huge noise complaints at Belfast Festival ahead of Reading and Leeds.'

Dave Grohl


On Wednesday morning, the organisers of Tennent’s Vital were in the firing line. A caller to a BBC Radio Ulster talkshow complained at being 'incandescent' with rage due to the noise levels at the concert. Reports suggested that the 'racket' could be heard 10 miles away in Ballygowan.

Yet not everyone was put out by the rocking and the rolling, with one Facebook user posting the following pertinent comment: 'For years we've listened to the sound of bombs and violence in Northern Ireland, surely having the world’s best performers on our doorstep is a good thing. What's the big deal?'

Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl evidently felt sorry for the audience at the Boucher Playing Fields, asking 'Do you get many concerts over here?' The response: a bellowing groan of negativity. 'So that's why you guys are so much fun!'

Grohl then apologised for taking so long to return to Northern Ireland, having only once played the King's Hall with his previous band, Nirvana, in 1992. 'We'll make a new record, come up with some songs that you guys like, and I promise it won't take us so long to return the next time,' he added.

'I like to play my music loud,' Grohl later declared prophetically, as if aware of the furore that was to come. 'That's how proper rock and roll should sound.' This, of course, was greeted with a rippling cheer from the 30,000 strong crowd.

The following morning the Foo's were splashed over the front pages of the local newspapers, branded 'nuisances'. The band shared a BBC News story on their Facebook page, which attracting 25,000 likes, 1,400 comments and over 1,500 shares from their fans.

Ian Brown


So will the Foo Fighters return to Northern Ireland? Let's hope the emotional trauma of their first Belfast show doesn't lead to internicine power struggles within the band and an eventual split – with a reformation 15 years later, just like, err, the Stone Roses.

The 'Madchester' band headlined day two of Tennent’s Vital, another great coup for the promoters who brought Eminem to Ward Park in Bangor in 2011.

Following their two Manchester comeback shows – and selling out 150,000 tickets in 14 minutes – Ireland was next on the list for frontman Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, drummer Reni and bassist Gary 'Mani' Mournfield.

Their wednesday night performance featured lots of neon lighting and hazy visuals. The setlist included crowd favourites like 'Waterfall', 'I am the Resurrection' and a feature-length jamming version of 'Fools Gold'. You would have thought you were listening to the record – aside from Brown's wavering vocal.

In support was the pixie-like Florence Welch, who made the audience embrace each other with sporadic hugging. 'This is a special place,' she yelled between songs. 'Florence and the Machine were here [in Belfast] when we found out that our latest single, 'Spectrum' reached number one in the charts.'

There were few noise complaints following the final Vital performance, and the famously grouchy Ian Brown even managed to charm Belfast by claiming that 'this is the best little town in Ireland'. Dedicating a song to 'Georgie the Belfast Boy', Mani looked at home as the Stone Roses closed the festival on a high.

Festival goers of all ages and musical preferences experienced the Foo Fighters playing every song like it was their last, The Black Keys, Maverick Sabre and the Latino sunshine sounds of Rodrigo Y Gabriela.

But Tennant's Vital 2012 was not all about the headline-making international acts. Local bands such as Havana House Party and Trucker Diablo (pictured above) warmed up before their heroes, with the latter later telling the media that sharing a stage with Dave Grohl was a 'dream come true'.

Florence Welch