This is our best ever, Snow Patrol tells Belfast
It was, said Gary Lightbody, their "finest moment". Never, when Snow Patrol were playing the pubs and clubs of Belfast and Glasgow, did the band imagine they would be performing at Northern Ireland's biggest entertainment venue just a few years later.
But last night, up to 10,000 fans packed into the Odyssey Arena to welcome the band back to Belfast for their triumphant home-coming concert.
"You've no idea what we had to go through to get here and I'm not talking about the 12 hours at Heathrow," Gary Lightbody told the crowd.
"I'm talking about the 12 years it took us to play here."
The band opened the show at exactly 9pm with Spitting Games, prompting a mass exodus from the bar as fans scurried back to their seats.
The first three songs were all taken from the third album Final Straw including the crowd-pleaser Chocolate.
The band also dipped into their back catalogue, playing Starfighter Pilot from their first album Songs For Polar Bears, as well as a track from Gary's earlier side project, the Reindeer Section.
Songs like Shut Your Eyes, How To be Dead and You're All I Have were given thunderous applause but it was the big ballads Chasing Cars and Run which had the fans singing at the top of their lungs.
"This is our finest moment, bar none," an ecstatic Gary Lightbody told the Odyssey.
"We have toured all around the world, but the one place we missed the most was here."
As well as thanking the fans, Gary also paid tribute to support acts - local singer Duke Special and Dublin band The Frames.
Among the throngs enjoying the band's list of other hits was a surprise face.
Secretary of State Peter Hain was joined at the gig by his wife Elizabeth, sister Sally and niece Connie. He revealed he has been a fan since the band attended the Christmas reception in Hillsborough Castle last year.
BBC Northern Ireland's new Controller Peter Johnston, also hailed the show a great success.
"When I first joined the BBC about 10 years ago, Across the Line sued to go on about this band Snow Patrol and it's so impressive to see them playing the Odyssey now."
After the concert, band members joined family and friends at an after-show party in the Odyssey.
Guests included Londonderry actress Bronagh Gallagher, Starsailor frontman James Walsh and former Northern Ireland assistant manager Gerry Armstrong and wife Debbie - a cousin of Snow Patrol drummer Jonny Quinn.
Jonny said the band was delighted with the gig.
"We always knew it was going to be a special one and it certainly lived up to our expectations," he said.
Gary Lightbody's biggest fans, parents Jack and Lynn, said it had been an emotional show.
"We're so proud of him," said Lynn, "The band did themselves and Northern Ireland proud tonight."
Earlier in the evening Snow Patrol's five members lit up the evening for two Belfast schoolgirls. Christina Mairs and Maeve Bell, both A Level pupils at Victoria College, were delighted to meet the band to take delivery of a very special item. The 17- year-olds were joined by Lorna Patterson, events assistant with Action Cancer, to thank Snow Patrol for signing an electric guitar which is to be auctioned off for the charity.
"The school's principal Patricia Slevin met the band a while back and asked if they could help her raise funds for a trek she is doing for the charity," Ms Patterson explained.
"She couldn't come herself tonight so the girls were more than happy to stand in. I can't thank Snow Patrol enough. Their gesture is just brilliant and will go a long way to raise funds."
Sealed bids for the auction can be sent to Ms Patterson up until January 12 when the highest bidder will be informed.
Bids can be sent to her at Action Cancer, 1 Marlborough Park, Belfast or firstname.lastname@example.org.