Snow Patrol knocked it out of Ward Park last night in their first homecoming gig – for two of them at least – in years.
The crowd went wild as the awesome fivesome sauntered onto the stage and little did they know they were in for a huge surprise to close the evening with the arrival of U2 frontman Bono who joined the band on stage for a spine-tingling performance of their hit One.
Arriving on stage initially Gary [Lightbody] broke the news that he had “come down with an absolute stinking cold” in the “worst day for it” before asking the tens of thousands there to help them and sing along.
They opened with with Chocolate and the Final Straw, but it wasn’t.
Take Back the City got everyone moving and with the big screens behind them highlighting a Northern Ireland we can all be proud of.
It had everything from snippets of our rich culture, to rainbow flags, Titanic, Mary Peters, everyone’s favourite Belfast boxer – the Jackal , Belfast, Derry, Lyra McKee and ending with the iconic picture of John Hume and David Trimble following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
“The first Ward Park had 30,000 people at it but Ward Park 3 has 35,000 people,” Gary said, before telling the crowd Snow Patrol have been around a long time. But that didn’t mean no new music.
Next up was Empress, played to a red back drop with fans singing heartily along.
It was quickly followed by much loved classic Open Your Eyes, sang with such passion you’d have thought it was a message for all across the north as they took us on a tour through our cities, towns and villages.
Run followed a well deserved thanks to the support and a nod to Northern Ireland’s amazing music scene.
And true to their promise the buzzing Bangor sang along to every word.
The next song, Gary said took five years to write, it was from the new album and it was something else – Life On Earth that is.
The pace slowed for Make This Go On Forever and Shut Your Eyes, but both were equally loved as purple laser lights transported you to a place where you’d be more likely to see Aurora Borealis.
A chuffed Mr Lightbody then asked the crowd to sing back at him, and there were 35,000 voices replying ‘shut your eyes and sing to me’.
From that high he took gig goers even higher with Called Out in the Dark – and they lapped up every word.
A couple of numbers from new album Wildness then went down a treat.
Gary told a delighted crowd: “This has been a day celebrating northern Irish music and we wanted to pay homage to the great music of the Republic of Ireland as well.”
With that he kicked off U2’s One – but we all got the surprise of our lives when Bono walked out on stage to join him! The crowd went wild and I think that alone would have made everyone’s night.
But then again, it wouldn’t have been quite perfect without everyone’s favourite Snow Patrol tune. Sure what else would Gary be doing at the end of a great night but belting out Chasing Cars and inviting protege Ryan McMullan on stage for You’re All I Have.
You could tell his throat was hurting when they came back for the encore – which he said “sounds like a sad song but it’s a happy song”.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed though and the lyrics “hurts like hell” weren’t lost on me – but I don’t think it’s all the love they’ll ever get… Just Say Yes!