Energy Orchard

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Energy Orchard were a guitar-based rock band of the late 1980s and early 1990s, from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Fronted by Bap Kennedy (brother of singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy), their style drew heavily on the influence of Van Morrison and other rhythm and blues acts, but incorporated traditional elements of Irish folk music.[1] The band emerged from the remnants of one other Belfast-based punk/new wave band, 10 Past 7.


Following the band's early concerts at the New Pegasus they were signed to MCA on the recommendation of Steve Earle.[2]

The band consisted of:

  • Bap Kennedy (lead vocals)
  • Paul Toner (lead guitar)
  • David Toner (percussion)
  • Spade McQuade (rhythm guitar/mandolin/vocals)
  • Joby Fox (bass guitar)
  • Kevin Breslin (keyboards)

Whilst the majority of the songs were written by Kennedy, it was Fox that wrote their biggest hit, "Belfast". But following personal problems Fox left to be replaced for a short time initially by Michael Kelpie and then Steve Lawrence. Following another re-jig McQuade switched to bass, in what would become the final line up until the band parted in 1997.

Their debut single, "Belfast" was their most successful song, and reached 52 in the UK Singles Chart, and featured on EastEnders. The 1990 follow-up was "Sailortown". The first album, Energy Orchard, was released to some critical appreciation. Subsequent albums included the 1992 release Stop the Machine, 1993's Shinola (released on Essential Records), Pain Killer (1995) and the 1996 live album, Orchardville.

Despite extensive touring, the breakthrough to mainstream success eluded them. The band having completed their recording contract with Castle Communications in 1996 disbanded. The split up saw Kennedy go on to launch a successful solo career (his first album saw a renewed partnership with Steve Earle), whilst McQuade and Breslin relocated to Jacksonville, Florida. Whilst there they played together in local band Celtic Soul, prior to McQuade launching his own group Spade McQuade and the Allstars.

Both Paul and David Toner left the music industry with Paul reading Law at Queens University, Belfast, and David for a time moving to Sweden to teach English.

With Stan Lynch from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Jim DeVito, Breslin formed Buffalo Diamond and recorded The Things You Do, released in November 2005. He has since worked with other musicians on a multitude of session recordings.[citation needed]



  • "Belfast" (1990) – UK No. 52
  • "Sailortown" (1990) – UK No. 73[3]



  1. ^ Carruthers, M.; Douds, S. (2001). Stepping Stones: The Arts in Ulster, 1971-2001. Blackstaff. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-85640-705-5. Retrieved 4 February 2018. Energy Orchard was another London-based act, using past members of Ten Past Seven and the Bankrob- bers. Singer, Bap Kennedy, was an unashamed fan of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and tried to develop the myth of his city on the likes of 'Sailortown'. Bap has become close friends with American songwriter Steve Earle, who brought him to Nashville to cut the impressive Domestic Blues album in 1999 with some excellent bluegrass players. Bap's brother Brian was also in Ten ...
  2. ^ Larkin, C. (1995). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Guinness Pub. p. 1345. ISBN 978-1-56159-176-3. Retrieved 4 February 2018. Energy Orchard This pop rock sextet come from Belfast, Northern Ireland and are built around the nucleus of singer Bap Kennedy and guitarist Paul Toner. Snapped up by MCA in 1990 their first single was tided after their hometown, ironically after relocating to London. It dented the UK Top 70, paving the way for follow-ups 'Sailortown' and 'Lace Virginia'. After running the gauntlet of comparisons to U2 which face most rock bands from Ireland, the reaction of the mainstream UK press ...
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 184. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.