Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2007
Last week, the Irish/Scottish alt rock band, Snow Patrol, came to Boston University's Agganis Arena to promote their most recent album, Eyes Open. Best know for 2004's "Run" (Final Straw) and "Chasing Cars," the first single from Eyes Open, this group's sound is best characterized as emotionally packed lyrics against a "soft-core" rock backdrop that gives them a unique sound in mainstream popular music.
OK Go opened for Snow Patrol in Boston. Having only heard "Here It Goes Again," (the song that has the really cool video with the treadmills) I was unsure what to expect from OK Go, and I found out that most of their songs sound very similar. With oft repeated lyrics, such as "Television, television" and "Get, get, get, get, get over it!" in the songs "Television, Television" and "Get Over It," respectively, as well as simplistic rhyming schemes, the songs were peppy, but uninspiring. Furthermore, they did not play the video for "Here It Goes Again" when they performed it, despite the fact that they had a screen and projector that they showed videos on for other songs. Overall their music was upbeat but repetitive, and the best part of their act was when they asked everyone in the audience to wave their cell phones. Seeing the lights from the little screens wave throughout the dark arena was oddly beautiful, and being able to see the different screen savers on my neighbors' phones was entertaining.
After OK Go, I was certainly ready to see Snow Patrol perform, especially since I had heard they were great live performers, and they didn't disappoint. All of Snow Patrol's songs sounded markedly different live when compared to their recorded versions. However, these differences did not detract from either the live or original versions; instead, they added a different perspective to each song. It was like two people talking about the same event — the basic structure is shared, but the interpretation differs. Most of the differences in the live performance were a result of the sound mixing, so that the groups' pure musical abilities still shone through the pieces.
Snow Patrol opened with "It's Beginning to Get to Me," and they wasted no time getting comfortable as they danced around the stage and managed to crack some smiles. The live version of this song was mixed so that there was more emphasis on the instrumentals than the vocals, which added depth to this piece about a failing relationship. While their generally more dramatic songs, such as "Chasing Cars," "Headlights on Dark Roads," and "Run" were played at faster tempos with more bass and drums, the emotional impact was not lost, particularly in "Run." Maybe Gary Lightbody, the lead singer, is just a great actor, but when he sang this last song, he actually looked like there was meaning for him in the words he sang, and it added to the impact of the performance. And when they performed "You're All I Have," and "Hands Open," they were so energetic that the audience just came alive, even at the end of the three and a half hour concert.
Snow Patrol's performance was enhanced by the visual effects on stage. These included nets of lights which complemented and changed with the music. I particularly liked when the lights on stage pointing at the stage were dimmed so that the band members appeared as black shadows against a multicolored back drop. This effect let the music speak for itself in a visually pleasing manner. Beyond the visual effects, Lightbody made the concert even more enjoyable as he interspersed anecdotes with the music. The group's only flaw was its song endings, or lack of them. Usually, songs fade off with an instrumental chorus, but often the songs in the concert just ended. In fact, one song ended so abruptly that the audience was not sure if it was over, so that Lightbody humorously commented "You weren't sure whether to clap there. (pauses) Terrifies the shit out of me, but that's fine."
I could go on and on about how great this performance was, but I won't. I just encourage all of you to see Snow Patrol live if you get the chance. But if you can't, at least get their CD because they're a unique group that only improves the more you listen.