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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

Brian Kennedy speaks of ‘special night’ ahead of West Belfast’s Greatest Hits showcase

The singer songwriter will perform at the Devenish Complex on Saturday night The singer songwriter will perform at the Devenish Complex on Saturday night
By Ciara Quinn

TAKING a break from a soundcheck in the stately halls of County Kildare’s Kilkea Castle, West Belfast icon Brian Kennedy told me that Saturday’s West Belfast’s Greatest Hits showcase will be “a lovely moment to just take stock and feel proud of West Belfast.”
Brian, who made his mark with 1990’s The Great War of Words album, as well as touring and recording for a six-year period with Van Morrison, will join fellow musical luminaries Joby Fox, the Miami Showband’s Des Lee, Rab McCullough and The Adventures to celebrate 50 years of musical creativity.
The 53-year-old is nominated in a hat trick of categories including Greatest Singer, Greatest Songwriter and Greatest Single for Put The Message In The Box, which came of the 1996 album A Better Man.
“I’m working on a bit of a setlist to basically honour the fact that people have been so supportive of me up there,” he said.
“I came from a very tricky situation on the Falls Road and somehow managed to negotiate that and get through it and achieve some of my greatest dreams and goals about being a musician.”
The renowned singer has recently battled rectal cancer and announced in June that he was cancer free having undergone several rounds of punishing chemotherapy, radiation and pelvic excavation surgery.
Brian spoke of how he is very much in “recovery” following his grueling three-year cancer fight and his new EP, Recovery, which includes songs written with producer Billy Farrell as he tried to capture what it felt like enduring his cancer treatment.
“I tried not to miss a gig, to just honour all the gigs that were already in the diary as the chemotherapy can be very unpredictable. I did it for six months and the more tired you get, the more exhausted you get, I just tried to pace myself. If I had chemo on a Monday, I’d start to get exhausted by Wednesday and have shows at the weekend. I’d often have shows on a Friday or Saturday. I’d just really did my best. I’d be in bed during the day and then get up to do the show and go straight back to bed again and always have a hotel room if I needed to get back to it to rest. You always kind of pushed through and thought ‘This is not going to get the better of me. I’ll keep going, I’ll get through this somehow’ – and that is exactly what has happened.”
On performing with his musical peers Brian said: “I think the night is going to be very special.”
The Beechmount native and The Adventures were both managed by Simon Fuller across the water and the Broken Land hitmakers provided young Brian with inspiration on his road to success.
“The first time I encountered anyone with any kind of success was The Adventures and this is going back to 1983. The Adventures were the first people I ever met that had a record deal, they were in the charts. It was the first time that somebody from your area was doing it, it was the first time you thought this is actually possible. They were great role models in that sense. I befriended them even more as we shared managers so it will be lovely to see than again on Saturday and say ‘My God here we are now in our 50s and 60s’,” he laughed.
Following the Greatest Hits gig, Brian’s diary to see out 2019 is filling up fast with concerts in Ballygally Castle and New York’s Carnegie Hall. “I’ve been asked to perform in Boston and New York as part of a big Christmas spectacular in Manhattan, it’s all very exciting.”
He continued: “I think Saturday night is going to be very special, there is nothing more moving than playing an event like this in the place you came from. I’m so moved by it and to be nominated is wonderful. I think it’s going to be a very exciting night.”

Limited tickets remain for West Belfast’s Greatest Hits and are priced at £35, including a two-course meal. For tickets telephone Gerard Mulhern on 02890 619000 ext 261.

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