This review was carried out for Queen's Radio, and is published with permission.
Venue - The Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Date - 25th January 2012
A lively crowd pack into the Odyssey Arena after standing in the pouring rain for hours in anticipation of Snow Patrol’s final concert of three in Belfast’s biggest music venue. But before NI’s brightest stars take to the stage, there is music from two up and coming groups.
Local heroes A Plastic Rose are used to selling out smaller Belfast venues to their loyal and dedicated fans (“you may have seen us in Auntie Annies or the Pavilion,” lead singer Gerry Norman helpfully reminds us), so transferring their sound over to a much bigger space, to a crowd who are largely both unfamiliar and unprepared for their alternative rock sound, is a tough task. Although early songs get little more than a polite response from the crowd, many of whom are still filtering into the arena, they are soon won over by the band’s sound, as well as the humour of lead singer Gerry Norman. He jokes that for the next twenty minutes, “we’re going to steal Snow Patrol’s fans,” and calls Snow Patrol member Gary Lightbody a hippy for having long hair.
By the end of the set, they have the audience firmly on their side, getting the whole crowd to chant Snow Patrol, and singing along to their closing song, “Kids Don’t Behave Like This.” As the band leaves the stage, there is no doubt that A Plastic Rose have won over the crowd, and have probably gained a few new fans as well.
Next up are Manchester based quartet Everything Everything, who have been the main support act for the majority of the tour. Their esoteric, keyboard based sound is rather dissimilar from the bands they find themselves sandwiched between, which leads to a rather muted response from the audience. Whilst songs such as “My Kz, Yr BF” go down well, the audience, which by this stage is at near full capacity, seem restless throughout, and the band fail to really engage with them. With quite a niche sound, it would have been an uphill struggle to connect with the crowd, and unfortunately it seems that this evening, the band just didn’t gel.
And up next are the band the 10,000+ crowd have been waiting for, as the instrumental “Berlin” plays as Snow Patrol enter the stage to a thunderous applause. After beginning with “I’ll Never Let Go”, the band goes straight into their ode to Belfast, “Take Back the City”, with the crowd singing along to every word in unison.
It’s a testament to the sheer class of the band’s back catalogue that they can play a modern day classic like “Run” so early on in their set and still have plenty more classics in waiting. For “Set the Fire to the Third Bar”, the band invite Shauna Tohill of Rams Pocket Radio/Silhouette to duet with Gary Lightbody on the track, whilst the band dedicate “Chasing Cars” to Davy Matchett, and give a rare live performance of “Somewhere a Clock Is Ticking.”
One of the most magical moments of the night occurs when Gary Lightbody gets the crowds to put their mobile phones in the air during “You Could Be Happy”, leading to a sea of light permeating throughout the stadium, like thousands of electro-fireflies. “It’s technology, but it’s like nature,” Lightbody philosophises. “It’s like we’re all floating in space.” The band’s finish off with “You’re All I Have, before the band exit the stage to rapturous applause.
Before the band take to the stage for an encore, Gary Lightbody announces that this evening’s gig has broken the Odyssey Arena’s attendance record (or as he puts it, the gig is “super-duper sold out.”) He pays tribute to the other bands playing that evening, telling Gerry Norman of A Plastic Rose that regarding his hair, “the feeling is mutual,” before dedicating the first song of the encore, the tender Teenage Fanclub referencing “Life-ning”, to his father, who is sitting in the audience. The group then launch into the uplifting “Open Your Eyes,” before finishing with the powerful “Just Say Yes”, leaving the stage to a thunderous reception.
As the crowd filters out of The Odyssey Arena, they will remember this evening’s record breaking gig with fondness. Snow Patrol have indeed taken back the city with aplomb.