Snow Patrol at the State Theatre, 4/25/12
The State Theatre, Minneapolis
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
No one likes spending the day at the doctor's office. That surely goes for Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody as well, who went in to get a nagging throat/vocal issue checked out prior to his band's show at the State Theatre Wednesday night.
And while Lightbody has such an affable personality that he was easily able to connect with the full-house throughout their 100-minute performance, the group had to cut a few songs from their set list due to Gary's vocal issues, and the singer himself seemed visibly strained while singing certain numbers. The rest of the sprawling seven-piece band (which included Belle & Sebastian/the Reindeer Section drummer Richard Colburn on back-up percussion) reflected Lightbody's unease, and sadly their songs suffered for it.
The band took to the stage as a remixed version of their mostly-instrumental new track "Berlin," and certainly picked the right songs to get the night started ("Hands Open" and "Take Back the City"), but they just sounded a bit flat and tepid as the band tried to find their footing on the large stage and Gary tested out his voice, which sadly grew worse as the evening wore on. There were some lovely piano flourishes in both "Crack the Shutters," and new single "This Isn't Everything You Are," which added some depth and texture to the heartfelt material.
It was at this point that Lightbody mentioned his vocal issues and his subsequent doctor visit, and said, "We're going to have to cut a couple songs from our set because I can't hit the notes, but we're only cutting the shit ones, you'll only get the hits." He then dedicated a rather lifeless version of "Run" to good doctors, which is too bad, because typically that song can be quite moving. Though it was rather endearing that Lightbody mentioned that he invited the doctor he saw in Minneapolis to the show that evening.
The set did pick up when Gary brought out opener Ed Sheeran to sing a duet with him on "New York," which was riveting, and that momentum continued into "Set the Fire to the Third Bar," which missed Martha Wainwright's vocals, but was quite stirring nonetheless. And while they cut three tracks from their typical setlist, Gary did mention "it doesn't mean we're not adding others." So we got to hear a rendition of "You Could Be Happy," which is a track Lightbody admitted "we don't play very often." He ad libbed lyrics about the Twin Cities and the State Theatre into the coda of the song, but the track still didn't end up taking flight.
Lightbody introduced "Make This Go On Forever" by saying, "This is a song about someone else who broke my heart ... or maybe I broke hers." And while the tender track built to its passionate conclusion, Gary left the stage for a long time (he later admitted to needing to take a bathroom break), leaving the rest of the band playing a coda to a song that ironically seemed to go on forever before Lightbody eventually returned to bring the number to a close. A pulsing version of "Shut Your Eyes" quickly followed, but Lightbody was obviously struggling with his vocals at this point, exclaiming "I told you my voice was fucked" when he couldn't hit the high notes.
"Chasing Cars" was the obvious crowd singalong, but even that rousing track didn't have the spark that it typically does, and from there the band seemed to coast to the encore, as "Chocolate," "Called Out In The Dark," and "You're All I Need" sounded decent but not exceptional (they even skipped the title track to their new record, Fallen Empires, which has been a concert staple on this tour).
The encore started out well, with Lightbody sincerely mentioning how the band has been together for 17 years now, and "these guys are my brothers and I love them with all my heart. I'd like to dedicate this song to the members of the band." And with that, the group (which started as a trio before the rest of the band came back on stage) launched into an earnest, impassioned version of "Lifening" that was one of the better moments of the night.
But they had to cut "Open Your Eyes" from the set, and wound up playing just a two-song encore, bringing the night to an end with a humdrum version of "Just Say Yes." And while Snow Patrol's hearts were clearly in the right place, on this evening, their music didn't get everyone else's fluttering like they typically do.
Personal Bias: I was a big fan of Final Straw and their earlier records, but have lost touch with the band in recent years.
The Crowd: If the State Theatre wasn't officially sold-out, it was damn close. The place was packed with young kids straight through to older fans who like their Grey's Anatomy.
Overheard In The Crowd: "The scarf the guitarist has in his back pocket is worth $400. It's an Alexander McQueen."
Random Notebook Dump: Opener Ed Sheeran delivered an opening set that was all over the map, but the crowd ate it up nonetheless. He started out with a straight forward folk/love song, which I enjoyed, but ended the set with a lengthy rap freestyle,which I most assuredly did not. The 21-year-old kid does have talent, though. No question. He just needs focus.
Take Back The City
Crack The Shutters
This Isn't Everything You Are
In The End
New York (with Ed Sheeran)
Set The Fire To The Third Bar
You Could Be Happy
Make This Go On Forever
Shut Your Eyes
Called Out In The Dark
You're All I Have
Just Say Yes (Encore)
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