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Snow Patrol return to pub where their story began

By Maureen Coleman

Twelve years ago a little-known indie band played to about 30 fans and friends at the Duke Of York pub in Belfast.

It was part of a two-night mini-festival featuring up-and-coming groups. Tickets cost £6.

The event was organised by a Belfast music fan and journalist called Colin Murray, a good friend of the headline indie act.

These days Murray is a leading UK radio DJ and the band, Snow Patrol, a chart-topping international act with albums selling millions and countless awards and nominations.

Tomorrow night Snow Patrol will be back in Northern Ireland to perform again — this time in front of 40,000 people at Ward Park in Bangor.

But despite their huge success in recent years they remember their roots and dropped into the Duke Of York yesterday as a plaque was unveiled to celebrate their humble beginnings.

The honour was bestowed by the PRS for Music Heritage Award to recognise the birthplace of the band and the first venue they played in.

Lead singer Gary Lightbody and drummer Jonny Quinn were in the original line-up 12 years ago with former bassist Mark McClelland.

Also at the unveiling were lead guitarist Nathan Connolly, keyboard player Tom Simpson and bassist Paul Wilson.

Bangor man Quinn said the reward was an “honour” and meant more to him than other accolades the five-piece had picked up along the way. “What I remember of the Duke Of York back then was that we did two nights, one acoustic and one as a full band, and there weren’t many people there.

“It’s great to be back where it all started. It hasn’t changed much at all, except there’s more posters on the walls now.”

Lightbody, also from Bangor, added: “We never sold out the Duke Of York, and to be honest, getting 30 people back then was a good night. To be playing for up to 40,000 at Ward Park is incredible for us.”

Quinn said he had never imagined they would end up playing big arenas and venues.

“We played pubs like the Duke Of York, Morrisons, the Crescent Arts Centre. But our ascent hasn’t been a giant leap, it’s been a gradual one, from 30 people, to 3,000, to 30,000 and the venues kept getting bigger.”

Lightbody revealed that the band are considering trying out a new song on the home crowd.

“Our next album is in the making,” he said.

“We have written some new songs and hope to be in the studio later this year, aiming at early next year for its release.

“We’re thinking of playing a new song called Big Broken on Saturday night, to see how it goes down.”

The band is the sixth act to be honoured by the PRS, along with Blur, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Squeeze and Dire Straits.

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