herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Wannabe rock star not up to scratch

It only took 17 years, but it seems Gary Lightbody has discovered his inner Bono. Hands in the air, legs spread apart, the Snow Patrol frontman is a giddy boy indeed, serenading his followers with a long line of songs about love and breaking up.

Because, let's face it, that's all he writes about (his words, folks -- not mine). Occasionally, he'll even pick up a guitar and join in with the rest of the crew, but tonight it's about playing the rock star. Perfect night for it too, what with the Northern Irish and Scottish six-piece kicking off their world tour in merry old Dublin. Shame about the performance, though.

Alas, this otherwise skillful gang of players have, in recent times, hit something of a brick wall. Instead of keeping things nice and simple, the lads have decided that bigger is always better.

It's no surprise to hear of Lightbody's writer's block while working on their latest opus, the ambitious yet forgettable Fallen Empires. 2008's A Hundred Million Suns wasn't any better. Maybe it's the pressure; a nagging suspicion that lightning doesn't strike three times. Breakout single Run was a major hit for the band. Chasing Cars? A simple yet oh-so effective sequel. But This Isn't Everything You Are? Even the title is complicated. And so it is that the majority of Fallen Empires' forced and often directionless tunes fall flat in an arena setting.

ANNOYING

It doesn't help matters that Lightbody comes across a tad over-enthusiastic; annoying, even, as the hyperactive frontman paces about the stage, dedicating songs to his parents in the crowd and professing his love for Dublin.

It's a killer light show, but that's no good when the music is far from up to scratch. If anything, this new, shiny, big-budget extravaganza somehow manages to ruin even the reliable 'anthems' in Lightbody's cannon. The aforementioned Run lacks every bit of emotion that made the studio recording so special. Set the Fire to The Third Bar is equally forgettable. There are some special moments (an impressive encore of Open Your Eyes and the drippy yet infectious Just Say Yes). But they're few and far between.

Snow Patrol's finest musical achievement arrived several years back when the band invited an orchestra on the road for a one-off, 'reworked' tour.

All the more reason to believe that the band can do a hell of a lot better than this dull display. HHIII

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