Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Snow Patrol at Tennent’s Vital: Rain-lashed crowds soak up the hits

Avicii headlining at Vital in Belfast
Avicii headlining at Vital in Belfast

This is an interesting juncture in the life of Snow Patrol. It's now almost a decade since they made the transition from indie rock also-rans to globe-straddling superstars — back in 2002 they played an earlier incarnation of Tennent’s Vital near the bottom of the bill.

Since then, of course, much has happened — a major label deal, Run rocketing up the singles charts, a string of massive-selling albums, a Transformers theme song and regular victory laps back home — including two cracks at Ward Park, Bangor.

Last night's show was very much in the same mould, a generous gift for the band's ever loyal home fans, given that this was Snow Patrol's only concert anywhere in the world in 2013.

“We weren't going to do any, but we were offered this and said ‘yes’ straight away,” said Gary Lightbody from the stage.

Sure enough, the faithful were out in force, wellies on their feet and rain gear ready for those almighty black clouds hanging over Black Mountain.

And right on time, they shed their mighty load.

But the intrigue came from the fact that the band didn’t have any new music to promote. Their last album, 2011's Fallen Empires, was met with a muted response, while the decision to release this year's Greatest Hits seemed odd, coming a mere four years after the career-spanning Up To Now.

Could it be that these standard bearers of Northern Irish rock are on the wane?

Well, yes and no. Last night's set was light on latter-day material, understandably leaning heavily on the band's most successful albums, Final Straw and Eyes Open.

But despite the teeming rain, band and crowd each played their parts to perfection. Hands Open and Take Back The City —”This one's for you, Belfast!” shouted Gary, giddy as ever in front of a home crowd — was a strong opening salvo, while Run — though aired surprisingly early — still had the power to move, 10 years on.

There was something of a sop to longtime fans with How To Be Dead and Spitting Games, but anyone who hoped for the really old stuff was left disappointed. Then again, Snow Patrol dispensed with the indie kids years ago.

Later attempts at experimentation have largely been unsuccessful, but the band know that they are on safe ground with grand festival anthems like Chasing Cars and Open Your Eyes. They were greeted like old friends, and the faithful left soaking wet, but satisfied.

Chris Jones

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