“Let Them Fucking Dance For Chrissake” -Snow Patrol
If you will allow, a bit of a personal back story: I don’t know why but I never pictured myself going to a Snow Patrol gig – no disrespect to the band, but I just never have. So when my sister became infatuated with the band and serendipitously found out that they were coming to Australia (and none of her friends could afford the hefty $80 ticket), I admit I was somewhat reluctant to go along. It’s not that I completely abhor Snow Patrol, or anything like that; I just never really got into their music. But being the wonderful big sister that I am (yes, I know my sister will outright decry this) I went…
So, to October 1st – Walking into the palatial State Theatre’s Gothic and Art deco architecture, I felt like Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ – I’d stepped into the gloriously golden age of the 1920’s and I did not want to leave. I distinctly remember expecting Rose to walk down the grand double staircase and into Jack’s arms (I know, wrong decade, but … if I had a TARDIS …).
As people began to swarm around me waiting to be seated I was surprised by the turnout. Not by the amount of people; both Australian shows having sold out in minutes, but of the crowd I was expecting a hoard of fangirls but it was far from it; people of both the XX and XY gene pool (though still mostly female) and of varying ages. An eclectic mix.
The fantastically bearded one-man show of Australian singer-songwriter Steve Smyth opened the evening; breaking two guitar strings in one song – a personal best according to Smyth. This man held his own.
And when the lights came down again, the three Irish gentlemen made their way sans fanfare onto the stage. With a stripped down semi-acoustic gig unique to their Australian leg of the Fallen Empires tour, and only half the band – an all-Irish half of the Irish/Scottish band – I’m not sure what I expected but they didn’t disappoint. They opened their 15-song set with the enchanting ‘Dark Roman Wine’. They played songs old and new; a cover of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ – a band Lightbody proclaims is very dear to them. The evening had a wonderful special guest appearance by Australia’s incandescent Sarah Blasko for ‘Set the Fire to the Third Bar’ originally sung by the lovely Martha Wainwright (if those two were to have a baby it would have the most unbelievably amazing tear-jerking voice). I recall the lady sitting beside me whisper to her friend (I know, eavesdropping – sue me) that from the way Lightbody begins ‘Run’, it’s as if he were singing directly to, and just for, her. No doubt every gal, and yes even some of the guys, wished that they were that special someone Gary serenades – it’s that damn attractive baritone Irish accent.
And boy has the front man mastered the art of banter; it’s not for everyone, I grant. But Gary’s interaction with the audience between songs is truly something to behold. He is, a funny funny guy. Who would have thought, with those earnest and melancholic lovelorn lyrics and melodies? For instance, he divulged to the audience that in his imagination – the powerful tool that it is – he is much buffer; reminiscent of “Ryan Gosling when he takes his shirt off in ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’” – I’ll allow for a pause to picture this … On the occasions when the lovely keys/organ player, and new member, Johnny McDaid and swoon-worthy guitarist Nathan Connolly left the stage and the spotlight fell to the lone Lightbody, from the laughs of the crowd you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a comedy show, albeit a musical one. Gary’s engagement with the audience was almost as entertaining as the music.
And, when two audience members in the front row got up to dance and were set upon by security, Gary rebuked “the establishment” and their rules and regulations by saying something along the lines of “let them fucking dance for chrissake” – sticking it to the man, indeed. Consoling the girls Gary promised that he would share a dance with them later, and then “who knows what …” The night was also full of innuendo. The chorus of the audience as they sang harmoniously back to the trio, or as Lightbody began a “threesome” – joking that the dynamic between the band mates is a different story in the dressing room – innuendo galore, I declare – was wonderful to be part of. Gary encouraged the crowd to sing along every chance he could and they willingly complied. With a keys man, bassist and drummer MIA the audience provided percussion with their very own unified hands – literally. It was a truly brilliant experience.
A downside to the evening was the noticeable cluster of empty seats for the sold out show – damn those scalpers and their ridiculous $500 tickets depriving real fans of the opportunity – that’s real arse-ness. It’s a word … now.
With dedications to Smyth – who now held a place in the pleasure centre of Gary’s brain; Manchesterian band Elbow; the audience; and ‘Lifening’ as ever dedicated to “the best man I’ve ever known’ – Lightbody’s father; SP ended the set with; yes you guessed it – ‘Chasing Cars’; when that simple two-string intro began the crowd were hooked and raucous. A couple of rows back there was an overzealous fan singing way ahead and off-key; it was both endearing and obnoxious (though more obnoxious).
But it wasn’t over; SP came back for an encore with ‘Lifening’ and ‘Just Say Yes’. It’s always great (and reassuring) when a band sounds the same, actually, even better, live as they do recorded. The live performance and reinterpretation of these much loved and at times, for want of a better word, “understated” songs, brought them to a whole new level.
As the evening drew to a close, there was a well-deserved standing ovation. And for the very last song ‘Just Say Yes’ everyone was up on their feet united against the rules and regulations of the establishment as incited by the SP front man.
There wasn’t a discernable climax to the evening (not even ‘Chasing Cars’); it was more a continuous flow of up-beat melodic happiness with frequent comical innuendos courtesy of Lightbody. The electric night was full of double-entendres, heavy breathing and great music.
I had assumed that SP were another generic pseudo-alternative rock band generated by the record label fat cats. But they’re not. I completely underestimated their popularity and their place in pop culture. It seems we only know Snow Patrol for that one song but they’ve been around for almost 2 decades and shouldn’t be labelled one-trick ponies; they’re a respected and well-established band. I still don’t quite know what I think of their music; but they’ve been compared to the likes of Coldplay with the difference being that they have all the sentimentality but none of the complexity. Nail-head, right there. All I now know for sure is that they’re an excellent band to see live.
An unforseen post-gig depression has well and truly set in.
Read the full review at warholschildren.me.
Thanks so much Katrina for sending this our way!