Snow Patrol at the O2 Arena (10/2/2012)

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Back in 2006, when Britain caught Bird Flu, Steve Irwin died, and Pluto was demoted, I went to my very first ‘proper’ gig (Steps didn’t count, in my eyes). Snow Patrol were the perfect start to my live music experiences, and 6 years on, I finally got to see them again.

Their long-awaited tour follows the release of their sixth album Fallen Empires (seventh if you count Up To Now), and with over 11 million albums sold they remain ever popular. London’s O2 Arena was bustling with fans of all ages, from die-hard to fresh new-comers, all eager to see the live performance. Supporting the band was Everything Everything, a band I had never heard of but (as I soon discovered) many others had. A dubious crowd greeted them, but their enthusiasm won many over, and their tracks were lively and complemented the excitable atmosphere well. I was not enamoured straightaway, though I decided that this was the sort of band that would really grow on you after listening to them a few more times. Everything Everything are a band who may not instantly be to everyone’s tastes, but their passion really showed, and it aided their performance dramatically.

Snow Patrol were immediately enthralling, entering the stage to the beautiful ‘Berlin’ before launching into ‘I’ll Never Let Go’. Their new material was welcomed by the crowd as if they were old favourites, and this was commented upon by Lightbody later in the gig. It seems their fame and their fan’s appreciation still hasn’t dawned upon them; they appeared taken aback when the crowd were able to sing many of their songs without Lightbody’s guidance. We were not disappointed, as new tracks were broken up with classics such as ‘Chocolate’, ‘Shut Your Eyes’, and of course ‘Chasing Cars’, with Lissie joining the band on stage for collaborations both new and old (taking the place of Martha Wainwright for the haunting ’Set the Fire to the Third Bar’). Everything Everything also returned to the stage, making ‘Fallen Empires’ memorable and impressive.

The set was not only aurally fantastic but visually too. The giant snowflake above the stage tilted, lit up and projected images of the band, and numerous light sequences and camera angles grabbed attention. It was utterly transfixing, and the large expanse of the arena was forgotten – it felt intimate while at the same time managing to blow us away.

Lightbody’s rapport with the crowd was good, humbly thanking them for their appreciation and even just for turning up. The band’s relationship with their fans comes across incredibly genuine, with dedications to members of the crowd made and references to many in the front few rows. The sentimental atmosphere of the gig was reflected through Lightbody’s tale of his four-year-old niece, to whom he dedicated ‘Run’ . ‘Run’ itself was particularly unforgettable, reaffirming its status as a classic, regardless of numerous covers and karaoke attempts.

After an encore of  ‘Lifening’, ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Just Say Yes’, the crowd was left in a state of elation; there was not a sullen face in the house. Despite finding mixed reviews the next day online (some complained that the band had become too mainstream for their liking) I found their performance flawless and very memorable. The group may have evolved since their early days, but they have managed to maintain their individuality whilst understanding advances in the music industry, allowing them to preserve their popularity and signature sound. I eagerly await an opportunity to see them again.

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