Ah, jumpers for goalposts, game of two halves, sick as a parrot, and other football cliches could easily be applied to this gig. And it's a point declared early on by our host Mr Lightbody, looking like a cross between Interpol and comedian Ross Noble with a sharply cut suit and wild hair.
"The first half will be the quiet half and the second half louder. Still cuddly though, like a bear with painted nails... I don't know where I'm going with this". The Geordie comedian would be proud of such a leap.
Snow Patrol are aware that some of the audience will be friends and supporters of long standing. And so tonight's venture is a retrospective of their career, dragging out and re-imagining old forgotten material from their early pre-fame albums and their time as The Reindeer Section.
An early rendition of 'Crack the Shutters' sits alongside the glockenspiel heavy 'Batten Down The Hatches', as Gary declares his enjoyment of the venue, looking as it does "like a bad Star Wars movie".
One result about their long hard journey to success ("we were dropped two months after the release of the album... which is quite impressive"), is they remember their roots. Gary has long supported local music, raving about our new rising stars on his blog, being involved with the Oh Yeah centre project, supporting the re-opening of the Ulster Hall (see ATL's DYRTFT section for more), and giving local bands the chance to open the Odyssey gigs. They continue this tradition tonight, bringing on a chap from Holywood to play their favourite song of the moment, 'Firefly'. It's easy to see why they love it.
Announcing some Reindeer Section material, the crowd shuffles in its seats. Generally this isn't what the people came to hear, and it needs 'Take Back The City', stripped to an acoustic country twang and clap-along before the rest of the stage joins in. Gary's voice nearly breaks as he sings how he loves this city, meaning it probably more than ever, and it restores some atmosphere as the first half closes.
The second half is, by contrast, much more populist, hammering out the obligatory hits to keep everyone happy, while indulging themselves with the Reindeer Section's 'You Are My Joy'. Miriam "who organised everything here" joins them for 'Put The Fire On The 3rd Bar', and they admit to thieving the string section from Elbow, before covering the Mancunians, and declaring undying admiration for Guy Garvey's voice.
The stage comes into it's own in the second half - a proper light show and computer graphics - but this is a bonus to the feast for our ears as they show how they've grown from the scrawny kids upstairs in Morrisons or supporting Ash in the Limelight.
Closing the main part of the show with 'Chasing Cars', the crowd, having been shaken from their first half slumber, call for more, and we get an encore with Gary wandering through the audience singing the new single 'Just Say Yes'.
Over to Ward Park next year...
Photo: Ramsey Cardy(Shoot To Thrill)