What a night — that’s the overwhelming verdict on the first UK City of Culture concert in Londonderry on Sunday, which has sparked an outpouring of civic pride among people across the north west and beyond.
The Sons & Daughters event received a massive thumbs-up across Northern Ireland with thousands taking to online forums and social networking sites to register their delight.
Included in the line-up were Nadine Coyle, Phil Coulter, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Johnny McDaid, The Undertones, Dana and Damian McGinty.
It trended on Twitter in both Belfast and London into the early hours of Monday morning.
There were tears and cheers inside the Venue at Ebrington from the moment Coulter opened the event with a rousing rendition of his The Town I Loved So Well.
There was a similarly emotional response from people watching or listening to the concert live at home via BBC TV and radio.
Many took to online sites Twitter and Facebook to register their approval of the event staged by the BBC with the Culture Company.
Every single act seemed to have a fanbase with artists Soak and Mairead Carlin and the Codetta choir among the most lauded.
Nadine Coyle, meanwhile, was dubbed “Queen Nuhdeeen” and received a massive thumbs-up from the thousands who watched her performance when it was uploaded to YouTube.
A loyalist protest yards from the concert hall failed to dampen the overwhelming enthusiasm and overwhelmingly positive reception and reviews.
Among the 2,000 people who secured tickets was local man and director of Velocity Marketing, Stephen Kelly.
He said: “I thought it was a brilliant night. The level of production, the venue itself, the acts that were on stage, the quality of the entertainment and the character all combined to create a very memorable experience. The set was beautiful — the BBC really threw the kitchen sink at it.”
Mr Kelly said that his highlights included Johnny McDaid’s performance with Gary Lightbody, pogoing to The Undertones and seeing senior politicians boogie in the VIP area. He said the standing ovation for John Hume was another highlight.
Fountain community worker Jeanette Warke was delighted to see Lightbody. During the concert the Snow Patrol frontman recalled visiting relatives in the Fountain as a child, his parents coming from the estate.
She added: “Neil Hannon was absolutely brilliant as well, the voice he had and the way he delivered it, just fantastic, as was Phil Coulter’s song at the end — it brought tears to your eyes.
“The Three Priests were so funny as well. If that is what we can expect in 2013, then I am so proud to be part of it.”
Culture Company boss Shona McCarthy said: “Last night felt like a watershed moment, one where the internal and external narrative around Derry-Londonderry altered in an affirming and positive way.”