2nd May 2006
Not much good at making it for support bands, us. Pretty good at getting in, getting a beer, finding a spot and having the main act come on straight away…but supports…nah! Somebody will have forgotten their tickets / left the hair straighteners on / got stuck in work …and we can never find anywhere to park! So, typically we missed the support here too. And it was The Fields – damn!
Still, it’s not long to wait for Snow Patrol. The Ritz is packed tonight, and tickets have been changing hands for hugely inflated prices in the weeks running up to this hotly anticipated, long sold-out gig. Album ‘Eyes Open’ came out a day ago to overwhelmingly positive reviews and it looks as though they are going to be one of the bands of the year. It’s been a long haul since their debut album release of 1998, and they have been able to build upon the success of ‘Final Straw’. Now the full to capacity venue waits to see if they can deliver this promise. With the arrival of the headliners heralded by John Cooper Clarke’s ode to the venue and its more dubious patrons, the crowd are edgy with expectancy.
They hit the stage with ‘Wow’ …and immediately run into technical difficulties, with Gary Lightbody hopping from mic to mic, trying to find one that works. When he finally does, it is to appreciative cheers from the crowd, and the band settles down into their set. Gary chats to the crowd between numbers, genuinely delighted with the response that they are receiving. He is the perfect frontman, exploding with so much energy during ‘Hands Open’ that he launches himself Bono-like into the crowd to shake hands with his following and manages to split his trousers. Many seem familiar with the new album already – tracks such as ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘It’s Beginning To Get To Me’ are hailed with the fervour normally reserved for familiar numbers like ‘Spitting Games’ and ‘Chocolate’. The venue erupts for the current single ‘You’re All That I Have’ with everyone bouncing on the Ritz’s legendary sprung dance floor like the Tigger family reunion. This is followed by a poignant version of ‘Run’, sung in most part by the audience while Gary and the band look on with positive joy.
A few technical difficulties aside, the band sound fantastic, beefed up by new members and working together tightly. They seem to be grooming themselves for stadium success, eyeing the crown currently belonging to Coldplay in that respect. After this time they deserve it: it’s been eight years since their first release, and they now have four albums to be proud of, with Gary notching up a further two with The Reindeer Section. It’s only fair that 2006 will be remembered as Snow Patrol’s year, and on tonight’s evidence, they have gone a long way towards staking that claim.