“Someone passed me a note so damn right I’m going to read it, and if anyone else wants to pass me a note then I’ll read that fucking note too”, shouted Snow Patrol‘s affable frontman Gary Lightbody after reading aloud what appeared to be an invitation to a comedy gig in Sydney. A fan had casually left their seat in Sydney’s ICC and slipped it across the stage just moments before, daring to be the first of many who would adorn Lightbody with messages of support or special requests throughout the night either on pieces of paper or written on smartphones.
Somehow I don’t think Lightbody knew what he was getting himself into when he shouted the above quote, but throughout Snow Patrol’s first Sydney show in years the famous Irishman would go on to hilariously talk down an angry heckler, act as a proxy for a legit marriage proposal, and shout out numerous fans including three children whom he invited on stage. It was a very entertaining way to break up a fine performance from a band who took an inordinately long time to follow up 2011’s so-so Fallen Empires.
Since emerging from indie rock obscurity in the early to mid 2000’s, the band have clearly settled into their sonic groove, and very rarely ventured from it. You know what to expect from Snow Patrol, a lack of adventure which has always bogged the band down and sometimes (unfairly) landed them in the same hate-wagon category as bands like Nickelback, Kings of Leon and Coldplay (only one of those bands is somewhat boring, I’ll let you guess which one).
Still, Lightbody has proved that he can strike songwriting gold every now and then, and the band has always worked incredibly well together. The biggest case in point is of course “Run”, slotted towards the middle of the band’s current set and sounding just as gorgeous now as it did when they were regularly touring the world. It appears the fans aren’t the only ones still deeply in love with the song either, with Lightbody telling us in no uncertain terms that this is still the best song he has ever written. “I fucking love this song”, he screamed over the crowds’ excited screams.
Though none quite reach the level of emotional clarity as “Run”, there are still gems in Snow Patrol’s back catalogue that come across beautifully thanks to a reinvigorated band, one that plays with tremendous energy fronted by Lightbody’s earnest, robust vocals. “Open Your Eyes” is a stunning inclusion, as is a slightly re-tweaked “Chasing Cars”, and new material gets over well: “Heal Me” is one of their more interesting songs and Lightbody’s claim that its his favourite to perform is obvious; “Don’t Give In” may comes across melodramatic but it’s an exciting and inspired live jam; and “Empress” fits in well with their sound.
Capping the set with a two-song encore of “What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get?” and “Just Say Yes”, was a good way to show how the new material plays consistently with the fan-favourites, which should make it all the more necessary to check them out when they return to Australia next year – at least that’s what Lightbody promised.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Take Back the City
Called Out in the Dark
Crack the Shutters
Don’t Give In
Life on Earth
Open Your Eyes
Make This Go On Forever
Shut Your Eyes
What If This Is All the Love You Ever Get?
Just Say Yes
The reviewer attended the band’s show at the ICC Sydney Theatre on 4th August 2018. Photos by Gwendolyn Lee. Our full gallery can be found HERE.