With Ed Sheeran
Friday, March 30, 2011
Fillmore Miami Beach
Better Than: Crying alone to that same Snow Patrol song for the billionth time.
Slapping the hands of his rapturous audience, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody was nearly pulled from the stage mid-verse. As he stumbled to regain his footing, the Irishman shouted, "I can't reach all of you!" But it wasn't for a lack of trying.
Often resembling the morning calisthenics session at a Japanese auto factory, the sold out crowd stretched their arms upwards on command and shouted along lyrics in unison with their fearless leader.
Order broke down about two-thirds of the way through the show, with couples hugging each other as they bounced in place and shouted lyrics into each others' ears as if those were last words before going over a waterfall.
But it's taxing business having a catharsis every four minutes and, as such, Lightbody comes not as savior, but as an everyman in a leather shirt.
Lighbody cracks himself up with the faces he pulls during guitar solos. When he sings, "And run your hands from my neck to my chest," he giggles as he runs his hands along bassist Paul Wilson's neck and chest.
Before the show, Wilson told Crossfade that it took the band three months to unpack Jackknife Lee's EDM-influenced production on their new album, Fallen Empires, into something that could be played live. To expand the sound, Snow Patrol's added an additional drummer and a multi-instrumentalist.
"The thing is that people want singles," Wilson said. "But singles could be our entire gig so we have to eliminate some, strike a balance of quiet and louder songs to create a journey--to tell a story."
It's a story that Snow Patrol has been telling for close to twenty years now and it's almost a shock to realize that Lightbody released his first recordings when show opener Ed Sheeran was only three-years-old.
Sheeran will be releasing his American debut in June, following the chart rise of his single, "The A-Team," to the top ten in at least eleven other countries.
Sheeran played alone with just a guitar and looping rig in front of black curtains draped over Snow Patrol's equipment. The teeming front rows shrieked at his panty-dropping beat-boxing, fawning over his every word and sleepy shrug. But other than the grinning faithful showing braces back to their molars, Sheeran had to cajole the crowd into singing with him.
When Gary Lightbody wanted his crowd to sing along, however, he merely stepped away from the microphone and several voices erupted to fill the gap. It's not just a matter of the headliner having a longer career or a bigger following; in fairness, Snow Patrol's songs are designed for that kind of mass ecstasy.
Try to stand among thousands as the guitars roar during "Hands Open" and not throw open hands into the air. The songs don't ask to be sung along to, they demand it, each earning its oh-oh-ohhh, building to those moments of inevitability from the ground up.
In one chorus, the lifting melody orders the audience to shut its eyes and sing to Lightbody. "Shut your eyes and sing to me."
And about those eyes... Snow Patrol has a song about shutting your eyes ("Shut Your Eyes"), about opening your eyes ("Open Your Eyes"), and probably one about winking for good measure.
Hearing eighteen of their songs back-to-back, it becomes clear that Lightbody has certain lyrical obsessions. The songs are a detailed cataloguing of wanting, lovers holding each other while lying down, and the body parts that hands can touch.
The story Snow Patrol tells is one of an excellent singles band that struggles under the weight of the emotions they stir in their adoring fans.
Personal Bias: We don't like to feel things in public and have a bit of resentment towards Snow Patrol for dredging up vaulted emotions.
"Take Back the City"
"Crack the Shutters"
"This Isn't Everything You Are"
"In the End"
"Set the Fire"
"Make This Go On Forever"
"Shut Your Eyes"
"Called Out in the Dark"
"You're All I Have"
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"Open Your Eyes"
"Just Say Yes"