Snow Patrol

support Foals
author TL date 22/05/10 venue KB Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

After hearing Snow Patrol's name tossed around ever so often, and checking out their latest album "A Hundred Million Suns" and finding it an easily enjoyable listen, I thought that I didn't really have any good reason to not go see them when they came to play one of Copenhagen's bigger concert venues, KB Hallen. This reasoning however, when presented on facebook, apparently deducted severely from my internet-awesomeness account. At first I didn't understand that, but on arriving at KB Hallen, discovering that the supporting band, Foals, had actually started as early as 8 o'clock, I did understand however. The place was packed, and not with your ordinary crowd of oddly dressed rock'n'roll worshipping teens and tweens - oh no sir - the thick crowd of this night was one of 'normal' people. The mothers and fathers and brothers of sisters of mentioned oddly dressed teens, happily sipping cheep pints of lager and discussing.. whatever 'normal' people talk about, God knows, I have no idea. Feeling like an Englishman in New York, I decided to put on my most 'professional demeanor', heading to the front to catch the remainder of Foals

Foals

Having enjoyed the odd Foals song on occasion, and made note of them also because of PP's elevation of their first album to his top5 of 2008, I was mildly excited to see what these indie rockers would be like, but alas, finding myself front and left, I quickly have to face that while Foals are all together 'alright' that's also just about it. On the upside, the sound is as good as any support band is ever going to get, and especially the frontman's voice sounds delightfully more full and enjoyable than its quirky recorded manifestation. On the downside, no one seems to be bothered with changing the lights away from the dull and simple spots placed on the band from the first moment I lay eyes on them, and more importantly, Foals don't seem like they can be bothered to rock out until the noisier ends most of their songs have tonight. They remain almost completely static with hardly a tip of a guitar or the tap of a foot for the majority of each songs, saving only restrained measures of visual performance for the noisier periods that seems attached to the song's ends. I don't know if they're always like this, or they're just trying to not scare Snow Patrol's mainstream audience, but the fact is that while I'm enjoying what I'm hearing, the impassionate appearance of the band quickly makes the whole thing seem short of most measures of greatness.

7

Snow Patrol

As the headlining act, Snow Patrol are naturally expected to take things to a different level, and opening the show with "Open Your Eyes", both the light show and the stage charisma improves accordingly. Suffice to say Snow Patrol appear the veterans they are (being U2's favourite support band and all) and singer/guitarist Gary Lightbody immediately proves that his reputation as a forthcoming frontman is entirely deserved. Wearing a bright red shirt as opposed to the all black band - hardly a coincidence - he's all smiles as he puts in a good performance of the opener, gesturing as to welcome the crowd to the show, and pacing the width of the stage to make sure to connect with everyone. Unfortunately, his delivery goes out the window on the following "Take Back The City", as he somehow ruins its chorus by snapping the end to each line off in an odd manner, but over the next couple of songs, things do improve more and more, and generally I get the impression that Lightbody can be an impressively seamless singer when he wants to. Speaking of singing, the sing-along party is certainly on, with Mr. and Mrs. Denmark singing along eagerly to their favourites, surprising me by responding to Snow Patrol with somewhat more enthusiasm than I would've expected the band could gather here.

However, the show soon seems to - for better and worse - assume a very samey format. Gary makes a joke about either a band- or crowdmember and then dedicates a song to the victim, then paces the stage with the microphone, singing calmly the first verse, the chorus and the next verse. Then for the second chorus he will return to the center and pick up his guitar, to add his strums to those of the remaining band, which is augmented by a second drummer, a keyboardist and an acoustic guitarist as well on occasion. There's nothing annoyingly wrong with this approach, and especially Lightbody's warm and inclusive sense of humor goes down well with both the audience and yours truly, but the odd ritual of picking up that guitar for no real reason midway through each songs begin to occur just a slightly bit calculated to me. Maybe that's also why I start to speculate about how cool I actually think Snow Patrol are, based on both their songs and performance. On one hand, they sound like seasoned pros, playing tightly and with plenty of surplus energy to engage the crowd with gestures and what not. On the other, their songs soon start to seem rather similar, and what is worse, really safe. Thus the experience I'm having is sort of zigzagging between being impressed with a good sounding band, which is giving a good interpretation of a traditionalist approach to song writing, and thinking that this is all so very trivial that it's not hard to figure why the 'edgier' music fans have vacated these premises to the more casual ones.

So anyway, I'm standing there wondering, and Snow Patrol are taking us through songs from various records of theirs, catching my attention the best with "If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It" and the predictable exponential growth of volume that occurs in the singalongs when "Run" is aired. Soon enough, "Just Say Yes" and "Chasing Cars" end the regular set under the gaze of many a satisfied on-looker, yet there can be no doubt that the band is going to come back for an encore, only it's hard to predict what songs it will consist of, what with the biggest hits having already been played. The answer is given when the band reappears under the projection of a three song long animated movie, accounting for the creation of the universe with a depiction of an origami-big bang. Yet as the flick zooms closer and closer to earth, it seems to have no deeper meaning, and soon runs out of ideas and resorts to end at an animated concert. This is when it strikes me that for some reason, Snow Patrol are spending their encore by diverting the attention of their audience away from their music and onto some shallow pseudo-artistic MTV-commercial lookalike, effectively making their songs seem like a background soundtrack. The band itself seems to be completely out of focus for this seance, which is odd considered how forthcoming I already mentioned they have been so far. Hence I can't say that this attempt at doing something different impressed me very much, and thus I leave quickly after it ends, carrying with me an impression of a band which can write and perform a catchy and atmospheric tune like it's nothing worth mentioning, yet still lacks the kind of class, personality - and above all the will to take a risk - which is required to become the kind of band that has more of an identity, than a mere deliverer of tunes that are easily enjoyable to all.

Setlist (Courtesy of Setlist.fm):

1. Open Your Eyes

2. Take Back The City

3. Chocolate

4. Hands Open

5. Crack The Shutters

6. The Golden Floor

7. You Could Be Happy

8. If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It

10. Make This Go On Forever

11. Shut Your Eyes

12. Run

14. Set The Fire To The Third Bar

15. Just Say Yes

16. Chasing Cars

Encore:

17. The Lightning Strike: What If This Storm Ends? / The Sunlight Through the Flags / Daybreak

18. You're All I Have

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