Celebration of punk as Open House Festival prepares for final weekend

John Grant performing at the Open House Festival in Bangor
John Grant performing at the Open House Festival in Bangor

Perhaps the centrepiece of this year’s Open House Festival in Bangor was Sunday night’s show by John Grant

Performing against the backdrop of the town’s marina, the American-born, Iceland-based musician entertained a good crowd with a hugely entertaining 90-minute journey through his back catalogue.

What was particularly impressive about Grant, 50, was the sheer variety of the songs, from the moving piano ballads like Grey Tickles Black Pressure, to the humour and big chorus of GMF, to the electronica of closer Blackbelt which had an initially reserved middle-aged audience hiving as dusk came down.

Even if you weren’t familiar with Grant’s songs, and there were many in the crowd who weren’t, he dragged you irresistibly along with the warm of his personality on stage and the sheer quality of the performance.

Grant may have a new album coming out in October, but he limited the new material to the current single Love is Magic, but there were no complaints from the crowd.

Meanwhile, the Open House Festival will draw to a close this weekend in Bangor with a celebration of punk on Saturday, culminating in an open-air concert overlooking the marina headlined by Public Image Ltd. The stellar support line-up includes legendary NI punk bands The Undertones, The Outcasts and XSLF.

The final full weekend of the month-long festival kicks off on Friday with a show by Wreckless Eric, best known for his 1977 Stiff Records hit, Whole Wide World. There’ll also be a series of free gigs that evening in bars throughout the town, including a set from punk collaboration, A.R.S.E in the Hop House.

Gates to the main event at the McKee Clock arena open on Saturday at 4pm with music starting at 4.30pm. Following the concert, four central Bangor bars will host free after-show gigs, and Translink are operating a late express train back to Belfast at 23.50pm.

Some tickets for the concert are still available at: www.openhousebangor.com