QUIET on set! Dancing is back, baby! Welcome, readers, to the first edition of Northern Winds on the road – coming at you from the mean streets of Bolton, England, where I type words from a hastily arranged one-night stop amidst one of the first UK tours from an Irish artist in over two years (shout-out to the Richardson clan for putting us up). And while the UK surges ahead with performances and live music, the North is not far behind. It was hard to miss on my end, but for those that didn’t get the memo, it looks like we’re out of the woods. the final number has been played and the ending dance sequence has been pirouetted, and dancing is set to return to the town of Bomont/Belfast as of the 14th of October. It was announced mid-last week that the Assembly would fully remove restrictions on indoor entertainment and that proposed gigs could go ahead without rescheduling. This was greeted with widespread acclaim and condition across both the industry and the public, with SHINE Promotions boss Alan Simms calling it “Great news” adding that he was looking forward to “finally recommence indoor music events in Belfast after a very long time.” SHINE would then go on to announce that their last event had been rescheduled and all 2021 shows would proceed as normal (barring illness). This is a load off the mental brow for a number of Irish artists who will be performing in the city going forward. Alt-folk songwriter and firebrand live act David Keenan will light up Limelight 1 on Wednesday the 13th; indie-rock quintet Brand New Friend headline the prestigious Black Box on the 16th (the first Saturday gig in Belfast with no restrictions in the longest time); and Megan O’Neill will eviscerate crowds at Voodoo on Thursday 21st. They’re just some of my recommendations, but full listings and tickets are available directly from SHINE Promotions website. The easing of restrictions also sets the stage for Irish artists with eyes further abroad while the likes of Cork’s Quiet Lights Festival (Emma Langford, Lisa O’Neill, Anna Mieke) and Sligo’s Spilt Milk Festival, which we covered last week, have a plethora of native talent. The likes of Eurosonic in Groningen – Germany is a one-way ticket to the upper echelons of the industry and the Irish are more than represented. Irish talent will be on full display for the international music industry in Germany in 2022. Online showcases will be available but if possible I’d recommend going – it's like Glastonbury without the mud. And as we approach the end of this week's Northern Wind, I can hear my touring party begin to load the equipment into the van downstairs (I think I’ll hold off on finishing until they get the amps loaded). And as such it’s only appropriate to fill this week’s spotlight session with the new Irish tracks that have kept us going through the miles of nameless, faceless English motorways.