Snow Patrol's birthday boy Lightboy celebrates at Belfast gig
NI superstars reunite with old friend for gig on day to celebrate unity through arts
Gary Lightbody celebrated his 43rd birthday on Saturday night with an intimate gig at a former church turned cross-community arts centre in north Belfast.
Snow Patrol - minus injured guitarist Nathan Connolly - performed an acoustic set at the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts as part of the Other Voices music festival.
Prior to the gig, Lightbody's bandmates tweeted: "Happy birthday Gary! To our brother, lyricist and poet, singer, songwriter, frontman and loyal friend, simply... We love you. Xxx."
Former band member Iain Archer - described by Lightbody as "family" - stood in for his friend Nathan whose hand injury forced Snow Patrol to cancel gigs in Copenhagen and Germany last week.
Among those joining the superstar band in the line-up at the former Presbyterian church were indie rock four-piece The Academic and Belfast-based experimental folk singer/songwriter Joshua Burnside.
Ahead of Snow Patrol's performance, an event called The Given Note was held at the venue.
The event looked at issues such as how music can help to bring about reconciliation, celebrate diversity and open up traditions.
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Ray Giffen, arts and events manager at the centre, said: "We thought that we would use the arts as the perfect vehicle to promote positivity, co-operation, celebrate difference and diversity and, in fact, draw inspiration from it in our 21st-century city."
Gary Lightbody, who believes it is vital for Northern Ireland's future that arts funding is kept in place to bridge the political divide, said: "Music brings people together without prejudice and it is an extraordinary, uniting, galvanising force."
Announcing guitarist Archer's temporary return to Snow Patrol, Gary revealed that Nathan had suffered nerve damage to his hand.
He posted a message to fans, saying: "Firstly Nathan wanted me to thank you all for the lovely get well messages. Alas his hand is more serious than we first thought.
"There has been nerve damage, the extent of which is still unclear but it will require more time to rest and rehabilitate than we first thought. That being said we are all hopeful Nathan will be back with us very soon.
"As we have a lot of shows coming up this summer and we don't want to pull anymore of them we have decided (with Nathan's blessing of course) to invite our old friend Iain Archer to play guitar with us for a little while."
Gary said: "Iain Archer has been a dear friend and collaborator of ours for over two decades.
"He was in fact a member of Snow Patrol from 2001-2002 in which time we was involved in the writing of some of our Final Straw album (including Chocolate and Run) and he has played with us live many times over the years."
Added Gary: "We wouldn't just get a gun for hire to replace our beloved brother Nathan. Iain is family."
And in a message to Nathan, he said: "Get well soon brother. We'll hold the fort til you're fighting fit. We love you. gL.x"