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 Academy 2, Liverpool

(reviewed by Trevski)


Against popular belief, Snow Patrol are not a new band. They released an album in 2001 called ‘Songs For Polar Bears’, but as with many new bands they only had one hit single at that time and were hotly tipped for stardom. Unfortunately their album never sold many copies and they were written of as one hit wonders. After this initial setback, Gary Lighbody (Snow Patrol’s creative force & lead singer) created ‘The Reindeer Section’ a collective of local talent, who’s sole purpose was to get musicians together and create some good music, which they achieved with some soothing and catchy qualities in their work on their album ‘Your Sweet Voice’.


Lightbody took all that he learned from his side project, what he thought worked and what he thought could be improved and re-focused these efforts into Snow Patrol’s album of 2004 ‘Final Straw’. Their first single of the Album ‘Spitting Games’ created a huge splash when it fell into the indie/rock pool and was given some extensive airplay on the major radio stations. Gary Lightbody couldn’t have been happier. When the album was finally released, I bought it on the strength of ‘Spitting Games’ and it became the only feature on all of my stereos for the whole of summer. I was eager to see this band as I had seen most of my favourites at the big festivals last year, but not Snow Patrol.


So it was some excitement that when I opened a copy of NME in January they had an advert advertising their upcoming tour. I rushed to buy tickets and once purchased only had six weeks to wait.


The big night had come; we arrived at the packed academy to the sounds of Terra Diablo (Snow Patrols good friends and tour fluffers) who were performing a mix of Nirvana and Muse sounding songs. Once they were wheeled out of the way, prep started for the big act of the Evening.


The lights died down, then columns of blue light appeared from behind the stage, which were pointed directly in our eyes. As I glanced away I noticed that thru my peripheral vision, a figure took position behind the keyboards and began to play some dreamy string effects on his Korg. My mind was racing trying to work out which track could possibly begin like this? But we were all fooled as it was just a diversion to get the rest of the band into position. The first few chords of ‘Wow’ began to emanate from the speaker stacks…. the crowd erupted into a frenzy. This frenzy continued into ‘Gleaming Auction’ one of the stand out tracks from Final Straw, Only after this did Lightbody inform us that we were the best crowd of the tour so far, Not such a surprise I thought as this was only the second venue of the tour. I’m sure Newcastle was just as good! By this stage the original place I had been standing in was now four or five feet away and I was desperately trying to defend my new position from the swarms of people trying to get as near to the front as they could. The Liverpool Academy always gives you this feeling, as the stage is high and the barrier at the front is only a couple of feet from the stage. I’m sure that the people at the front could have ripped the set list of the floor if they really tried!


The next part of the set was filled with some older songs, which I have to say I didn’t recognize and most of the crowd’s body language said that was the case for them as well. I fit myself into the ‘New Fan’ category but never the less tried to sing along anyway! These older songs are still just as good as anything on ‘Final Straw’ and I was glad to be soaking them up. During this part of the set I was becoming more and more aware of an ever-increasing noise emanating from a bunch of girls stood a few feet to my right. They new all the songs and were all doing the ‘I know these songs and the rest of you don’t’ dance, which involves shouting the lyrics and doing the ‘extended vertical arm finger point’ at Gary Lightbody who didn’t seem to notice. By the way, I have been known to carry out the extended vertical arm finger point (The EVAFP) at gig’s before so I know how good it feels. Lighbody’s nonchalance was noticed by these girls and they weren’t happy. At the end of the song, the classic get attention tactic was about to come into play. A tee shirt was removed from a coat pocket and thrown onto the stage, as Lighbody picked it up and cautiously viewed it, it turned out to be directed at drummer Johnny Quinn, it had been signed by loads of people who called themselves the ‘Snow Patrol Forum’. They had made the t-shirt for Quinn’s birthday, which was the following day. Awwwww.


Thoughtfully the next song up was ‘Run’ and Lightbody dedicated this song to his newfound friends in the crowd, they were made up. ‘Run’ is an amazing song and totally deserves it’s status as Snow Patrol’s ‘Yellow’. As this was their current single I thought this would be encore material, but fitted beautifully into the middle of the set. The band were loving every minute of playing ‘Run’ and all the crowd could see this. As if to thank them, at the end of the song there is a great passage of music that repeats ‘Light up, light up, as I if you had a choice, even if you cannot hear my voice, I’ll be right beside you dear’, which was sung quite amazingly by all of the crowd. Gary Lightbody stopped singing halfway through this and I am sure that he was quite touched by this moment.


The set continued with ‘Whatever’s Left’, the amazing balled ‘Tiny Little Fractures’, ‘Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking’ and ‘Chocolate’. The band then left the stage to incredible applause and the inevitable feet stomping began. They gave in after only 40 seconds and came out to perform ‘Spitting Games’. A great song to finish on as it was the first song that I had heard of there’s in over two years last summer. If you get the chance to see this band please do. It only cost £8 a ticket and the Grolsh at the academy is ace!


N.B: ‘Final Straw’ has now been re-released with two new tracks ‘Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking’ & ‘Same’. Both songs compliment this album and are fantastic.


Trev McKerlich 11th March 2004

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