A heady mix of punk rock

GOOD VIBES: There are plenty of good vibes in Good Vibrations.
GOOD VIBES: There are plenty of good vibes in Good Vibrations.


Directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn

Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett

Good Vibrations is set in Belfast in the heady years around the birth of punk rock. 

Pub DJ and record shop owner Terri Hooley had lived in the troubled city all his life. He loved his music, particularly the ska, reggae and rockabilly you'll find wherever there are people who want some wit and rebellion to go with their dancefloor grooves. 

Punk, Belfast and Hooley were made for each other. The music - at least temporarily - buried some religious divisions, and gave the much disaffected youth of the city a common cause. It mattered more to be anti-Tory than it did to be Catholic or Protestant, and punk was the rallying cry of the era. Hooley had the contacts, and just enough cash, to get the first and best of Belfast's homegrown punk bands into a studio, and then - crucially - onto the turntable of legendary BBC DJ John Peel.

That Peel legitimised the whole Belfast scene by playing The Undertones' Teenage Kicks twice back to back on his show on the night of September 25, 1978 is now a touchstone of punk folklore. But the journey to that moment, via a poky record store, a few clapped out pubs, and a bunch of kids who knew more about firebombs and barricades than they did about Top of The Pops, is fascinating, deftly told, beautifully done.

Good Vibrations doesn't have the self-conscious cleverness of 24 Hour Party People, and it might not find that film's cross-over audience. But it is a raw, funny, bittersweet paean to tough times, small record shops and brilliant music. I cried my eyes out at least once. It won't be for everyone, but I adore this film.

The Dominion Post