Snow Patrol’s luckiest fans gave their rock idols a massive welcome home last night as the band returned to Belfast to play an intimate show at the Empire Music Hall.
Up to 400 fans fortunate enough to get their hands on tickets for the gig joined friends and family of the band for the 60-minute set.
And there was a very special guest in the audience. Making her debut appearance at a Snow Patrol concert was frontman Gary Lightbody’s 15-month-old niece Honey.
Dedicating the new track The Golden Floor to her, Gary told the packed Empire that he loved her to bits but hoped he wouldn't wake her up.
“She’s probably got cotton wool in her ears and her coat over her head,” he joked.
Tickets for the show were like gold dust and were snapped up via the band’s website, leaving thousands of fans disappointed.
However the band will be back in Belfast early next year as part of a huge UK/Ireland tour.
Last night’s gig at the Empire came just a few hours after Snow Patrol played a similar show in Dublin, ahead of the release of their new album A Hundred Million Suns.
But there were no signs of fatigue as the band belted out tracks from the new album, including the dreamy The Planets Bend Between Us (For You) and old favourites such as Chocolate and Open Your Eyes.
The band last played the Empire five years ago before finding commercial success with their third album Final Straw and they were clearly delighted to be back in the venue, which Lightbody described as “amazing”.
While the new material received a warm reception it was the Snow Patrol hits Run and Chasing Cars which really got the crowd going.
There was one tiny hitch on the night when Lightbody’s acoustic guitar broke, but it was quickly replaced and the show went on.
Snow Patrol rounded off the gig with their current single Take Back The City, which Lightbody earlier described to the Belfast Telegraph as “a rough-edged homage to a rough-edged city”.
“This is for Belfast, this is for Northern Ireland,” he said, before applauding the local music scene which he described as “fantastic”.
The crowd roared their appreciation and as they sang the lyrics “I love this city tonight, I love this city always” the fans knew he really meant it.
Lisburn woman Alison McCreery said she had seen Snow Patrol about five times but that this was the best show they had put on.
“It was brilliant seeing them in a small venue like this, they were so close,” she said.
And Irwin Scott from Belfast described the show as “superb”.
He said: “I’ve seen them at the Ulster Hall and at a few festivals but this show was the highlight for me.”
Following the show, Lightbody, drummer Jonny Quinn, guitarist Nathan Connolly, bass player Paul Wilson and keyboardist Tom Simpson headed down to HMV at Donegall Arcade to do a late-night album signing.
Today the band travel to London and Edinburgh to play two more shows at small venues.