Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol at the Beacon Theatre

Snow Patrol played two nights at the Beacon Theatre. I caught the group’s second show on September 23rd, 2009, and was completely blown away. It appears that we are in one of those rare periods in music where the mainstream seems to be inhabited by some very good music–not a lot, but more than usual. Coldplay is simply the most dominant band in music today and now Snow Patrol, another UK band, may be getting close to even wider popular success than it has already enjoyed. Made up of members originally from Northern Ireland and Scotland who now make Glasgow, Scotland their home, Snow Patrol has gone through many personnel changes since its original formation in 1994. The group released two albums before its latest three American releases, and members of the group have also been involved in a slew of side projects, including spinoff group the Reindeer Section.

It’s amazing that Snow Patrol chose to play relatively intimate concert halls on its latest American tour. After many European festival dates, including stepping in as a headliner to replace Oasis at the V Festival in England in August, the band could easily be playing bigger venues. Add to that the group’s choice to keep the top ticket price to $49, and clearly what you have is a band that is about the music and respecting its fans.

The group’s latest album, A Hundred Million Suns, was the centerpiece of the show and is clearly the group’s best album to date. Although I expected a good show, the group’s energy throughout its performance was amped way up. The musicianship of the group is not to be questioned, as the members have found the perfect balance of guitar-driven pop and a shrewd use of keyboards and effects. The members also clearly love what they do, enjoy each other’s company and have a solid bond with their fans. Lead singer Gary Lightbody is the focus of the group. His nervous passion and vocal performance style are occasionally so intense and heartfelt that he looks as if he is on the verge of tears. While the group primarily plays tracks from its newest release, songs from its last two albums, Eyes Open and Final Straw, still resonate and only get better with age. The group’s performance of “The Lightning Strike” suite, from their latest album, at the end, complete with an animated film, raised the bar above the event’s being a mere concert. If that wasn’t enough, on the group’s current tour, it has borrowed Belle & Sebastian’s drummer, Richard Colburn, who played with the group in its early days and who is also a part of the Reindeer Section. It’s extraordinary how the band maintains such an adventurous sound and cool rock muscle while doing songs that are so unforgettable in their pop tunefulness. Anybody who saw either of the band’s shows should thank their lucky stars, because this is a group with too much appeal, talent and staying power to be able to accommodate its growing legion of fans in small concert halls much longer.