Snow, Birds and a Bugg — it sounds like the title of a new animated film franchise. Or perhaps a special on Animal Planet.
In truth, it was the Tuesday night lineup at Centennial Concert Hall, where three U.K. acts — ambitious rockers Snow Patrol, Oasis refugee Noel Gallagher (plus his new band of High Flying Birds) and ascendant troubadour Jake Bugg — showcased their wares for a small but appreciative crowd of about 1,500.
Who was the star of the night? Well, it depends. Officially, Snow Patrol and Gallagher were co-headliners. But while SP closed the show and played the longest, Uncle Noel was clearly something of a crowd favourite. And let’s not forget opener Bugg, who also made a mighty favourable impression. So maybe the best way to handle this one is in chronological order. Let’s take it from the top then, shall we?
At first, it was hard not to feel a little sorry for Snow Patrol. After all, following Gallagher isn’t the easiest job in the world. Heck, even SP frontman Gary Lightbody referred to him as “legendary.”
But give them credit, the Northern Irish / Scottish sextet (last seen here opening for Coldplay in 2009) didn’t let that defeat them. Instead, they rose to the occasion with a 70-minute show that balanced and blended majestic arena-sized guitar-rock anthems, tender romantic balladry (lovelorn lyrics are Lightbody’s stock in trade) and even a few doses of keyboard-heavy EDM to show they’re on the cutting edge (or at least not dead in the water). And they quickly brought the Gallagher fans onside.
“Feel free to stand up,” Lightbody urged midway through their first number Hands Open. “It’ll make me feel better about myself, and I can guarantee it’ll make you feel better too.” Apparently it worked; not only did everyone obey, they remained standing throughout their set and eventually did some impressive vocalizing during the grand ballad This Isn’t Everything You Are (granted, it took a little urging from Lightbody, who dismissed their first attempt as “s–t” and urged them to “give it some balls”).
Lightbody’s affable humour continued throughout the night — “Can you see how nice my ass looks from up there?” he asked folks in the second balcony before informing those in the loges that “You look like you’re being offered to me on a pair of giant robot arms.” Surprisingly, his smart-alecky chatter (along with their casual clothes) provided a much-needed contrast and complement to their soaring, sweeping songcraft, which often threatened to collapse under the weight of its own seriousness and import. If you remember their biggest hit Chasing Cars, you understand what I’m talking about. If not, titles like Make This Go On Forever and You’re All I Have probably tell you everything you need to know.
Both of those came from their 2006 outing Eyes Open, which dominated the proceedings to some degree, though there were also smatterings from 2008’s A Hundred Millions Suns, last year’s Fallen Empires and their other albums. The rich mix of artistic style and emotional substance was accessorized by the production, which featured a light show heavy on strobes and other high-tech eye candy, backed by five vertical video screens showing POV footage of soaring birds of prey and cars speeding down roadways.
But make no mistake; their sumptuous sounds remained the focus of the evening. And by the time they encored with the throbbing, pulsing electronics of the affirmative single Just Say Yes, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand — and nobody was feeling sorry for them anymore.
Snow Patrol Set List:
Take Back the City
Crack the Shutters
This Isn’t Everything You Are
Make This Go On Forever
Shut Your Eyes
Open Your Eyes
You’re All I Have
Just Say Yes
Read the review at winnipegusn.com.