Before I start this review in earnest, I have to admit that I’ve not been a Snow Patrol fan for a while. I like the first two albums Music For Polar Bears and When It’s All Over…, and for the most part enjoyed Final Straw, but from then on I kind of lost interest and considered them to be a bit pedestrian, a bit of an everyman’s band and not one to instil much passion in their fan base. Based on tonight’s performance though, I might need to give that position a little bit of a rethink as they put on a cracking show to a hugely appreciative audience.
I walked into the venue halfway through second support band Everything, Everything’s slot. Sadly, it had Nothing, Nothing going for it whatsoever sounding like the bastard offspring of Elbow and Doves, but played on children’s toys and a Casio keyboard instead of real instruments. It didn’t bode particularly well I thought. The venue was a little odd too as there was no seating area at all. This is particularly strange as even the most fervent metal gigs I’ve seen (which usually end up with a massively active pit of thrashing bodies) have seating sections. There was still a decent attendance mind you, taking up most of the space that usually contains the seating. Not bad for a second night on the trot.
Around 21:00 the PA stopped its tunes to be replaced with a full rendition of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” – an odd choice for an intro, which turned out not to be an intro at all, confusingly. It got the crowd paying attention though as the lights went out and the headliner’s slot started proper. With 8 people on stage including a female backing vocalist, it was a surprising ensemble that I never expected. The band enjoyed a few upbeat numbers in a row as lively front man Gary Lightbody jumped around on stage, clearly enjoying himself already. To be honest, he was only person who actually seemed active on stage at all. Considering there were so many people on the stage throughout the night – 7 in all as the backing singer vanished – I was expecting a bit more vigour from the band as a unit.
Luckily though, the life came from the shows special effects. The overhead lighting rig when idle formed the snowflake logo seen on the cover of best of record Up To Now. 6 individually moving segments moved around independent of each other and contained both lighting and video screens and with a massive screen on the back too, broadcast a combination of pre-shot, rendered and live footage in a myriad of shapes, sizes and effects. It was a joy to watch, especially the mixture of overhead, instrument, wide angle and in crowd camera on a stick live footage.
But you don’t go to a gig to watch a movie, and thankfully the music complemented the fascinating stage show perfectly. Snow Patrol’s catalogue has a number of poppy, punchy, ballad and occasionally experimental tracks and the set list reflected all of that, supplying the crowd with a great cross section from the last few albums and new tracks from 2011’s Fallen Empires. The title track itself made an appearance before the encore as the drummer left his kit behind in favour of a djembe (or tribal drum), while one of the assorted extra fella’s pounded out a constant rhythm on a bass drum making it more akin to Underworld or other dance-style song. Building into a cracking crescendo it was a joy to behold.
Other notable musical highlights included one of my personal favourites “Set The Fire To The Third Bar” which had Martha Wainwright’s part done by the backing girl (who’s name I sadly can’t recall I’m afraid). She was absolutely superb, daring to recreate the unique warble heard in the recorded original. There was also a rather creative rendition of “You Could Be Happy” which took on a life of its own as half the lyrics were replaced by an off the cuff celebration of Snow Patrol’s early years in Glasgow making their way up the ranks via the famous King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. And as an extra, they also played “Make This Go On Forever” which they hadn’t played on the previous night.
All in all, it was a cracking 90 minutes or so. Honestly I don’t know if I personally would’ve enjoyed it so much without the whole light show & video package, but the rest of the crowd were loving it, singing and cheering along with as much gusto as many niche bands borderline stalker fans. My girlfriend (who was the only real reason I went along) absolutely loved it and waxed lyrical about how good the show was all the way home. To give both the fan and the non-fan an equally enjoyable and entertaining night is no easy task and I tip my hat to thee. Mucho fun.