- 08 Jun 19
It may have been a damp and humid evening in Malahide, but Hot Press cover stars, Snow Patrol, brought more than enough warmth and musicianship to win over the doubters
It’s a wet and humid Friday evening in Malahide when Snow Patrol take to the stage. They launch into 'Take Back the City', which inspires the relaxed gathering to abandon the beer queues and rush to the stage to greet the band. They follow immediately with 'Chocolate': it's a stark reminder that in a few short years the band’s commercial mega-breakthrough, Final Straw, will be twenty years old.
The song, a Snow Patrol classic, triggers memories of the post-millennium music scene, inspiring hazy evocations of indie club nights, of past Patrol gigs, and friends now mostly lost to mortgages and marriages; its repetitive and melodic guitar chime makes you realise that Snow Patrol soundtracked one’s emerging adulthood. I may not have loved them then, but hearing these songs now, they make more sense to me. I’m hearing their raw, unabashed emotion. Dammit, I admit it, I like them.
“Tonight…” Gary Lightbody says, addressing his considerable congregation, “we’re going to play some old songs, and some new songs, and then some more old songs.” And that’s exactly what the crowd want to hear, because this is not the intimate confines of The Olympia, where the band performed a pre-tour gig in May 2018 and introduced a plethora of new material: this is a summer festival concert and the set list demands the widest possible feeling of inclusiveness. 'Open Your Eyes' and 'Run' are dispatched mid-set with the confidence of a band that has plenty more hits in its arsenal, including the energetic highlight of the evening, 'Called Out in the Dark'. Lightbody momentarily seems to struggle with the high-key chorus before recovering, and duly makes light of it.
As the show progresses, the frontman’s unpretentious and genuinely likeable nature makes such a massive event feel less impersonal. He also takes time to thank legendary Irish band, the Ollie Cole-led Turn, some of whom are in attendance, for their support in bringing Snow Patrol on the road in those tough early years.
The band are generous in creating a good time for all tonight, but the fair-weather fans aren’t getting off that easily as there are still a couple of tracks from latest album Wilderness to come. “This next song took seven years to write,” the affable singer says, “in that same amount of time The Beatles released their entire catalogue.” This is a reminder that the band has been, until recently, out of commission while struggling to follow up 2011’s Fallen Empires. And, with that, the band launch into some new material, but 'Life on Earth' and the subsequent 'Heal Me' don’t yet feel custom-built for the outdoor stage. With 'Chasing Cars' and 'You’re All I Have', we are back on more familiar ground. These crowd-pleasers whip the crowd into a frenzy before an encore of the recent, reflective, piano ballad 'What if This is All the Love You Ever Get' and the synthpop party of 'Just Say Yes' sends the audience off into the night with hearts warmed and elated.
Most ticketholders arrived to the Malahide grounds already part of the band’s faithful following, and left reassured of their devotion. But tonight’s celebratory performance has even endeared them to this old cynic. It may have taken two decades, but Snow Patrol have finally won me over.