Snow Patrol treated the Palais to devastating lyrics paired with top-notch banter

Several times Lightbody was laugh-out-loud funny, other times he was passionately serious, yet it didn’t once detract from the honest and emotional tone of the music.

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David Harris

Extremely talented duo Husky was on support duty, and they delivered a stunning performance. Their harmonies soared throughout the heritage-listed Palais Theatre, the only downside to their performance was their lack of engagement with the audience. They really didn’t speak much, and it made the set feel a little distant when it should’ve felt intimate.

Most had found their seats by the time the lights dimmed right on schedule as Snow Patrol walked out onstage to a hero’s welcome. Before the band even launched into ‘Chocolate’, it became abundantly clear that Snow Patrol fans are as passionate as they come.

Charismatic frontman Gary Lightbody invited everyone to stand, which really made it feel like more of a two-way experience than if everyone had sat for the whole affair. ‘Take Back the City’ was an early set highlight, the crowd responding positively to it getting played despite it not being sighted on their setlists much lately. 

From the very first song, the sound was first class. With more instruments and less acoustic energy, it could’ve gone either way, but here the mixing was spot on, allowing the music itself to really take centre stage. Lightbody’s voice is really extraordinary. It’s great on the records, but it had never seemed like one of those voices you write home about. All that changed when seeing Snow Patrol live. His voice resonated throughout the venue, touching each and every one of the three thousand people in attendance.

What was in some ways unexpected was just how funny Lightbody’s onstage conversations and banter were. He engaged with the audience and told stories like he was simply “down the pub”. From detailing how he’d accidentally shrunk the shirt he’d brought to the venue to wear and having to wear a rather unimpressive plain brown T-shirt to genuinely thanking everyone for coming on numerous occasions, it was all thoroughly enjoyable. Several times he was laugh-out-loud funny, other times he was passionately serious, yet it didn’t once detract from the honest and emotional tone of the music.

2006’s landmark album Eyes Open got a good run, with five songs lifted from it. ‘Open Your Eyes’ was reworked to make it feel even more epic than it does in recorded form, transforming the venue into a cathedral of voices. If that didn’t make you think ‘How good is live music?’ then the singalong of smash cross-over hit ‘Chasing Cars’ certainly would’ve. It was everything you’d want hearing it live to be. It felt like everyone there was part of a choir, lifting the song to another echelon. When it finished, it felt like we’d collectively ticked something off of our bucket lists. 

The song has been used in TV shows and films and played on the radio countless times, and everyone expects it to be a staple of their set. At one point in the show, Lightbody addressed this point after looking genuinely gobsmacked at the rousing reception the band were receiving after one particular song. “I get asked in interviews all the time ‘Don’t you get sick of playing the same songs all the time?’ No, fuck that. This is amazing.” He couldn’t have summed up the evening any better if he tried.

Finishing the regular set with ‘You’re All I Have’ before briefly exiting the stage, just two band members returned to play new album single ‘What If This Is All the Love You Ever Get?’, prompting Lightbody to say, “Encores are bullshit aren’t they? You have to do them because if you don’t everyone asks why you didn’t do one, but we just go stand over there for 30 seconds.”

The stripped-back number showcased his vocals in an awe-inspiring way. It felt intimate and powerful, and the audience even joined in the various “Woah-oh’s” of the song. All of the new album songs were strongly received. Finishing with the energetic ‘Just Say Yes’ from their first greatest hits album Up to Now; this was a performance to savour and remember.

Highlight: The energy and enthusiasm of the band and how passionate the fans were.

Lowlight: Too hard to think of one.

Crowd Favourite: Being in the choir for ‘Chasing Cars’.