If you wanted a taster of what the year of culture will bring to Derry then you needed to be at the Homegrown concert in the Millennium Forum on Friday.
As the first music gig of the year, it was an idea that came, not from the Culture Company, but from musician Paul Casey seeing an opportunity and going with it.
With fire in his belly following the Clipper concert in the summer of 2012, he approached Bronagh Gallagher and Paddy Nash and soon the triumvirate were pitching their idea to the Forum management.
Taking a punt so soon after Christmas, the concert was a gamble, but it paid off.
Friday evening saw the Forum filled with enthusiastic music fans, people passionate about the artists that our city produces.
And the vibe from the get-go was one of joy and pride.
Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas got the night off to a roaring start, with people top-tapping and clapping within minutes.
The mood was quickly summed up by Enchilada Diane Greer, who simply stated, “This is special”.
And it was special. Everyone in the audience was participating with gusto, and the next two acts had a hard act to follow.
But Bronagh Gallagher did not disappoint. A Derry woman through and through she was superb, her voice a joy to hear live. Anyone lucky enough to get tickets for her Other Voices gig in February are in for a real treat.
Rounding off the night was Paul Casey, with an excellent band proving that the instrumental side of music in the city is alive and well. Coupled with Paul’s unique voice and excellent lyrics there wasn’t a fan in the house that didn’t leave happy.
And the fans came from all over, many I spoke to travelling the length and breadth of Northern Ireland and beyond to be there.
That’s what the City of Culture year is all about, bringing people from near and far together, to witness a city steeped in talent.
With that sort of start, what a year it’s going to be.