Those days are long gone, of course, and as the fanbase has grown so too has the confidence and ease of the performers, epitomised by frontman Gary Lightbody.
The Bangor man now owns the stage, with the swagger and charisma worthy of any great lead singer.
From the moment the band kicked off the Ward Park show with Open Your Eyes they had the 40,000-plus crowd in the palms of their hands.
Given their lack of success in those early days, it must feel surreal to stand on stage and hear that sizeable audience sing back every lyric of your song. Singles Run, Chasing Cars and Signal Fire were always going to be crowd-pleasers, but every song was greeted with the same adulated response, from Crack The Shutters to Set The Fire To The Third Bar, featuring guest vocalist Lisa Hannigan.
The band seized the opportunity to try out a new song on their fans, Big Broken, a ballad not too dissimilar to Run. I predict another anthem.
A word of praise for the warm-up acts as well, who managed to keep the attention of the fans before the headliners took to the stage. If there's any justice in the world, Belfast band Cashier No 9 will one day be headlining their own Ward Park gig.
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