March 26, 2007

The Beauty of Song Order as Demonstrated by Snow Patrol

Before Saturday, March 24, I knew that Snow Patrol was amazing. After seeing them co-headline with OK Go that night at the Tweeter Center in Camden, however, it was blindingly clear: these guys aren't just amazing, they're also brilliant. As my concert experience grows, I am noticing all the nuance that goes into a good set, and one way this is showcased is through the order of songs played. It takes a certain instinctive talent to piece together a show and have it flow in a way that gets the audience excited and leaves it satisfied.

I'm not sure if I'm remembering the exact order correctly, but I'm going to write about the impressions of what I remember of the setlist that were left in a concertgoer's head and heart.

Opening with "Spitting Games" off "Final Straw" got the momentum spinning right from the start, and it coursed on through the well-chosen follow-ups of "It's Beginning To Get To Me" and "Headlights On Dark Roads" from "Eyes Open." This was the time not to brood but to lose our breath, as if we were in an electric wave.

The middle of the set seemed tender, as if filled with work the band could reveal after a torrent of their darker, more energetic material. "Chocolate" brought me back to the familiar essence of Snow Patrol all over again after a short wait. "Chasing Cars" was beautiful as always, a pure and honest expression of love that resounded in slow dances and awe all across the audience. This section was where they could fit in the quieter sentiment of songs like "Grazed Knees," and it worked well with the swell of calm and rise of emotion in the wake of the harder beginning.

A very versatile Gary Lightbody handled transitions between songs with a lightheartedness that set off the more intense songs. After "Set The Fire to the Third Bar," he poked fun at a guest singer from the audience for messing up the lyrics and then dedicated one of the band's most heartwrenching songs, "Make This Go On Forever," "to women," after a tongue-in-cheek rant about how he still couldn't understand them after all these years. The dedications were a recurring theme ("to Superman") that held the set together nicely, and juxtaposing a thought-provoking sung narrative with humor made the lighter and darker sides of the concert stand out all the more.

The intensity continued and became almost dreamlike with a jazzed-up, passionate "Run" and ventures into "Final Straw," such as "Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking," broken up somewhere by the bouncier fun of "You're All I Have."

Some of the most phenomenal choices were made in the encore. The band returned only to break out "The Finish Line," something I didn't expect, and then pick it up with "Open Your Eyes," rockout and all. And in a show of attitude and breaking of concert conventions, they played "Hands Open," the latest single, as the very last song. This was a smart move as it kept anticipation for the song up throughout the show and then delivered, was a special treat for the fans that stayed till the lights went on instead of an instance of catering to the masses, and was a great, high-energy closer. I especially appreciated this choice as "Hands Open" wasn't played when I last saw Snow Patrol, making it that much sweeter of a first-time viewing.

If you couldn't tell by now, Snow Patrol is a band I'd highly recommend seeing live. Charisma. Inflections. Timing. Really knowing how to put on a show. As much as I love The Shins, these are the songs that will change your life.

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