Snow Patrol at Malahide Castle, Dublin on 7th June, 2019
“All these places feel like home,” sings Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody on Chocolate, the second song of a not-quite-career-spanning setlist at Dublin’s Malahide Castle. From Glasgow to Dundee, to Bangor and Belfast, Snow Patrol call many places home, something which Eyebrowy gleefully took the piss out of back in 2006.
While the band have no actual connection to Dublin, Ireland’s capital is somewhat of a spiritual home for the band. Despite a seven-year absence between their last two albums, Snow Patrol have played three sold-out shows to a total of almost 50,000 people in the city since their return last year, not a bad comeback. However, the size of their fanbase was never in question. The real question was whether they could still connect with those fans? The answer is yes, at least for most of them.
Opening with Take Back The City, Lightbody sets out the stall early on. This show is going to be a love letter to those who have stuck with them through thick and thin. “I love this city tonight, I love this city always,” he belts out. Tonight, the 20,000 in attendance are his city.
Empress is one of only four songs from the band’s new album to be played on the night. Make of that what you will. The other three: Heal Me; Life On Earth, and What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get are the album’s strongest tracks by some distance. In fact, if you remove the songs that appear on their ‘Final Straw’ and ‘Eyes Open’ records, tonight’s setlist is essentially just a list of the better tunes from the band’s last three underwhelming studio albums.
That’s been the problem with Snow Patrol for so many of their earliest fans since Chasing Cars propelled them to stardom. There’s too much filler and not enough substance.
What If This Storm Ends, part of what is probably the best song they’ve released in 15 years (Lightning Strike), is an audiovisual treat. Make This Go On Forever is delicate and heartbreaking as ever, while You’re All I Have and Called Out In The Dark hark back to the band’s best period as a live band circa 2006. Run and Chasing Cars get their usual, deserved mass singalongs but it’s beginning to dawn that Snow Patrol haven’t changed in the seven years they’ve been away.
It’s the same singalongs, the same audience interaction, the same missing songs (where oh where is Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking?) and the same tired rendition of the awful Shut Your Eyes accompanied by the customary half-hearted cheesy call and respond outro. Shut your eyes and sing something else. Please.
Another of their more memorable songs of the last decade, Dark Roman Wine, is disappointingly replaced at the last minute with the lyrically-beautiful but far-too-often-played Lifening, while the night is closed off, just as it has been for most gigs in the last ten years, with the sugary drabness of Just Say Yes.
Yes, Snow Patrol are still a big draw, and probably always will be. But for those who’ve been with them for a long time, it’s all starting to seem a little like the band have departed to a place those fans can’t follow them to. Here’s hoping they return home sometime.