Belfast Telegraph

City’s music talent energises year aimed at catapulting Derry onto world stage

By Brendan McDaid

Londonderry's most famous sons and daughters united in song to show that the UK’s first City of Culture was worthy of the title.

Stars of stage and screen battled the elements and returned to their weather-beaten home city to ensure the opening concert of the year-long celebrations got off to a soaring success.

The first major event to be staged in the city this year — described a ‘cultural catapult’ by some to launch Derry onto the global stage — demonstrated the deep foundations of the Maiden City’s cultural prowess.

In an ambitious line-up painist Phil Coulter rubbed shoulder with punk’s The Undertones, singer-songwriter Paul Brady and 1971 Eurovision winner Dana.

They joined forces with the new generation of Derry’s pop and rock idols — such as Nadine Coyle, Snow Patrol, Neil Hannon and Glee star Damian McGinty — to put on a show that will be remembered long after the 2013 celebrations have ended.

There was palpable excitement among the stars as they jetted in from all corners of the globe to team up with up and coming artists such as Soak.

The buzz was building across the city as around 2,000 lucky people poured into the newly opened £5m Venue at Ebrington.

The A-list line-up, which also included Hobbit star James Nesbitt and Silent Witness actress Amanda Burton, showed just why Derry was able to beat off competition from dozens of larger cities to claim the cultural accolade.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his native city was set to make history, adding it was made possible by people coming together and recognising what this accolade would mean.

“I don’t think anywhere in the world tonight will have such a diverse range of talented performers on the one stage,” he added.

An emotional Nadine Coyle looked every inch the superstar as she arrived fashionably late for soundchecks and press calls at The Venue on Sunday afternoon.

The Girls Aloud singer — who has not performed in her home town for nearly seven years — revealed that she wouldn’t mind playing the Ebrington venue after checking out the facilities on offer, although: “I would have to run it by the girls first.”

After jetting in from LA she said she was delighted everyone had managed to make it despite the weather grounding flights across Europe and America.

She said. “Derry is steeped in culture. It is great it is being recognised now.”

The Town I Loved So Well writer Phil Coulter and Glee star Damian McGinty flew in from Florida after performing on a Carribean cruise.

Gary Lightbody and Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol were really looking forward to the show.

Former St Columb’s boy Johnny added: “This is about the future and legacy, this is about creating a path for artists to come up and find a voice.”

Gary also revealed Snow Patrol would be involved in events in Derry later in late summer 2013.

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