People can be so rude about Snow Patrol. By “people” I mean the snippy, semi-nocturnal kvetchers of the music press. The general public don’t have a problem with them, buying their fuzzily anthemic records in family-size quantities. But you could play a game of hangman in reverse on the probability of phrases such as “politely yearning”, “strangely anodyne” and “mortgage rock” cropping up in reviews. Oops, I’ve done it again.
While not necessarily a guide to quality, Snow Patrol’s stats alone are impressive. Eyes Open, their current album, has sold 4m copies worldwide. Thanks to the endorsement of Grey’s Anatomy, “Chasing Cars” was the first single by a British rock act to crack America’s top five for 13 years. Every ticket for this gig at the rechristened Millennium Dome was snapped up within 10 minutes.
Front man Gary Lightbody has come a long way from indie Glasgow’s bedsitistan. Spreading his arms wide for “Hands Open”, the Belfast boy no longer looks startled by the scale of his success. He is full of a bridegroom’s bounce, and his four honest-bloke ushers have become a formidably effective stadium unit. Their songs deal in maturing- relationship, let’s-talk-about-it angst and commitment chats, which is why guitar fundamentalists hate them and canoodling couples love them.
Radio-friendly epics including “Chocolate” and “Spitting Games” flash by on cruise control, while backdrop projections venerate the group in hagiographic split-screen. During the tantric wallows of “Run”, their most grandiose yet pedestrian ballad, and “Chasing Cars”, legions of glowing mobiles keep a luminous vigil. But the distance is short between comforting and torpor- inducing. Although “Make This Go On Forever” threatened to recall the more expansive “Talk Talk” for one curious moment, what Snow Patrol sometimes make of life just doesn’t seem inspiring enough.
There, I have outed myself as a whinger. Well, not entirely. The seize-the-day urgency of “Open Your Eyes” and Volvo-driving emotional certainties of “You’re All I Have” had all the attributes of a rousing encore: big chords, singalong melodies and several thousand fans bopping along in unison. Irredeemably pleasant they might be but, like commuter towns, this band are more sinned against than sinning.
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