Anarchy in Northern Ireland!

Anarchy in Northern Ireland!

Date: 24/04/2020 11:22

It may have arrived somewhat late to Northern Ireland but, by the late70s, the punk scene was soon thriving in Belfast and Derry. What the scene have lacked in style, it made up for in passion and, as NI punk svengali, Terri Hooley stated, “when it comes to Punk, New York has the haircuts, London has the trousers, but Belfast has the reason!”.

What was unique to the Northern Irish punk scene, was the amount of inclusivity that it afforded. This can be seen in the cross-community mix of people it attracted. When it came to punk, sectarianism had no place. Even more astonishing is the number of children that could be found at punk events, brought along by their parents. This is evidenced in Belfast photographer, Ricky Adams' book,  BELFAST PUNK - ‘WARZONE CENTRE 1997 - 2003’. 

During The Troubles, punk provided a form of escapism. For many, the appeal was in its sense of rebellion, of refusing to subscribe to an older generation's outdated views. This is conveyed in John T. Davis’ seminal documentary, Shell Shock Rock. Filmed in 1979, it captures the first wave of the punk scene in NI and featured key bands, such as Derry legends, The Undertones, and Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers.

To watch Shell Shock Rock for free, click here, to head over to the BFI Player. 

Davis would also document The Outcasts at their incendiary best in the thrilling concert film Self-Conscious Over You. This legendary gig found almost 1,800 people cramming into The Ulster Hall, the events depicted later immortalised in the 2013 film, Good Vibrations.

Coming later was Giro’s, which was started by the Warzone Collective in 1984. A DIY punk social centre and counter culture hub, it was a drop-in centre, boasting a vegetarian/vegan café and also provided a practice and office space for bands, as well as being a venue in which those acts could perform. This shared space would soon become a focal point in Belfast's alternative culture as can be seen in the below footage, from  the NVTV documentary, Our Generation: Giros.