Snow Patrol's 25th Anniversary Gig: Ward Park 3
Claim to fame: Gary Lightbody ended up at my birthday party at my house in Helen’s Bay a few years ago, and sang happy birthday (as well as Light Up and a few other tracks) in my kitchen with Eamonn Holmes and my now deceased mum singing along. It was surreal. But so was Saturday night in Ward Park. More than 35,000 Snow Patrol fans descended on Bangor this weekend for Ward Park 3, the band's homecoming gig and Northern Ireland's biggest ever celebration of local musical talent. The gates opened at 2pm for a full day's entertainment featuring multiple home grown bands, everyone's favourite Snow Patrol hits and that moment when U2's Bono casually dandered on stage mid-song.
Celebrations had begun the night before at Ward Park Free, when crowds got into the spirit of things thanks to a line up of local bands and DJs in Bangor pubs, including Ryan McMullan and David C Clements.
Ward Park was buzzing on the balmy Saturday afternoon as it filled with people of all ages enjoying live music from picnic blankets, coats and (let's keep it real) ...the odd bin bag. There were loads of fresh food stalls (shout out to the delicious chocolate crepes) and two large bar areas. Bar queues were pretty painful, standard at this kind of event, though most people managed to fill their boots in the end!
Snow Patrol were supported by local favourites, Two Door Cinema Club, Foy Vance, Ash, SOAK, Jealous of the Birds and Brand New Friend, with some crowd members 'fessing they showed up more for the support than the main act. Gary dedicated 'Light Up' to all of the local acts who played on the day and "all the bands in our wee country. In fact every band in the island of Ireland."
A second stage curated by Snow Patrol and Gary Lightbody’s NI artist development company, Third Bar, showcased up and coming artists such as JC Stewart, The Wood Burning Savages, Kitt Philippa and ROE.
Johnny McDaid's partner, Courtney Cox, shared this gorgeous selfie with Foy Vance - and shared a clip of his set at the gig saying "if you don't know this guy, you should!"
As the evening progressed, Gary said that although Ward Park 3 was a day to celebrate the best of Northern Irish music, they also wanted to “pay homage to the great music that comes from the Republic.... There's an awful lot of songs from the Republic of Ireland, but there was only one song that we could think of that said everything that needs to be said in these heady times. Just one song. Just one."
The crowd assumed U2 hit 'One' was a run of the mill cover and erupted as Bono walked on stage during the second verse.
Snow Patrol also paid tribute to recently murdered journalist, Lyra McKee, during their performance of Take Back the City, projecting a picture of campaigners at a same-sex marriage parade in Belfast carrying a giant cut-out of Lyra’s name in rainbow colours.
After the event Gary captioned his crowd pic on Instagram:
“I don’t really know what to say about that other than thank you all for giving us yet another extra special night in Ward Park, Bangor. To everyone that came thank you. Massive thanks to every band/artist that played today. It was an honour to play on the same bill as you all. An extra special thank you to the two great artists that joined us on stage: @ryanmcmullanmusic who has been touring with us all year and played ‘you’re all I have’ with us so beautifully. And to our secret special guest Bono, my goodness. To sing One with Bono was like a billion birthdays all rolled into, well, one. I’ll never forget it. And we’ll never forget today. All of it. Loads of love. Thank you Bangor. gL.x “
Spot any of your faves among the set list?:
Take Back the City
Crack the Shutters
Open Your Eyes
Life on Earth
Make This Go On Forever
Shut Your Eyes
Called Out in the Dark
The Lightning Strike (What If This Storm Ends?)
One (U2 Cover with Bono)
You're All I Have (with Ryan McMullan)
What If This is All the Love You Ever Get?
Just Say Yes