What we are seeing first-hand as Snow Patrol open the tour for their first album in seven years is Gary Lightbody falling in love again with being a frontman. It’s a joy to see, and the opening night of their tour crackles with life.
He bounds about stage with the awkward urgency of an adolescent, weaving between bandmates and trailing wires here and there. This means a beat is occasionally missed and the delivery breathless, as on the excellent ‘Take Back The City’. However the added emotional oomph is a worthy trade-off. Lightbody’s delivery may lack the precision of his studio work but it also exudes passion, honesty and gratitude.
High-end visuals may be par for the course for arena shows and particularly in this genre, yet that doesn’t diminish their palpable affect. The crumbling cities during ‘Take Back the City’ are breathtaking, whilst the inclusion of projection curtains to hem in the band on the lullaby ‘You Could Be Happy’ and ‘The Lightning Strike’ add to their kaleidoscopic grandeur. The use of cameras to project images of the band members live on the screens, overlaid with visual effects, is simple and immediate.
The setlist hits everything fans could want, ‘Eyes Open’, ‘You Are All That I Have’, ‘Run’ and of course ‘Casing Cars’, which provides one of the many hair-raising moments to come from the night. However ‘Called Out in the Dark’ sound fantastic too, and ‘Set Fire to the Third Bar’, with Martha Wainwright harmonising via projection surely pops.
Of the new offerings, ‘Empress’ and ‘What If This Is All The Love You’ll Ever Get’ sound good but ‘Life on Earth’ really works in a live setting, allowing Jonny Quinn to hammer home some audacious fills. The only notable absence is ‘Shut Your Eyes’, a fan favourite with a call & response chorus perfect for a live setting.
Watching Snow Patrol come back fighting after all this time was like revving up a beloved old car and finding it runs as good as ever.