Snow Patrol, Cardiff University Great Hall - 03/05/06
Not so many years ago Coldplay seemed to corner the market in indie balladeering, and grew to become one of the biggest bands in the world. Now with the welcome news (last album notwithstanding) that Mr. Martin is taking his over-infalted ego off somewhere for a few years, if there's any justice in this world Snow Patrol should amicably fill that gap in the market. They've made one hell of a new album in Eyes Open and in singer Gary Lightbody they have someone to match Martin in morals but completely overshadow him in that important area of personality. He jumps on to the stage with such an enthusiasm and energy before even playing a song that its hard not to get behind him, and he's down to earth. This band have had to work hard to get here and so appear genuinely grateful for their chance, something Gary makes clear tonight before launching in to the wonderful An Olive Grove Facing the Sea (also known as the kind of heartbreaking ballad they've always written but didn't get the promotion at the time).
Tonight's show is perfectly pitched between Snow Patrol's two successful albums: 2003's Final Straw and newie. They mix up the two at will so that a favourite is always around the corner, and this is seen in the opening few exchanges, as Chocloate and Spitting Games are played energetically at the beginning of the set to get the crowd firmly on their side. After that, it's a nice mix of the familiar and not-so familiar, with new tracks Hands Open and Shut Your Eyes sounding like they'll occupy iPod's for the next few months. The obvious highlight of the new stuff though has to be the beautiful Chasing Cars. If Colin Murray reviewed Run as 'the kind of music that children should be concieved to', then surely Chasing Cars goes one better. Its quite possibly the most simple, honest love song this genre has produced, certainly in the last few years. Elsewhere How to Be Dead remains a firm crowd pleaser, and new track Make This Go On Forever adds an interesting, piano-led change to proceedings.
They could have left it with just the main set and it would have been amazing, finishing as they did with the aforementioned Run and current Top 10 troubling anthem You're All I Have (possibly the best end to a set that's come from the current outcrop of young, Indie bands?), but a touching Open Your Eyes and a hectic Tiny Little Fractures meant that the crowd went home with both their eyes, and their hearts, open to the new kings of all things introspective and emotional. A warm welcome back.