Review: Snow Patrol, Olympia Theatre, Dublin
THE ghost of "MTV Unplugged" looms throughout the first half of Snow Patrol's greatest hits tour as, flanked by string players and a lady bashing a xylophone, they treat their audience to acoustic reworkings of some of their less-known songs.
By all accounts, the semi-acoustic format created bafflement on earlier dates in the UK, so floppy-haired frontman Gary Lightbody is at pains to make it clear they will be plugging in and cranking out the crowd-pleasers after the interval.
Until then, we are invited to sit back and enjoy the sight of Snow Patrol deconstructing their songbook. Truthfully, there's nothing too radical about their orchestral imaginings of sub-Coldplay plodders as 'Crack The Shutters', 'You Could Be Happy' and 'Cartwheels' (from Lightbody's pre-superstar Reindeer Section side-project). Splashed in trumpets and violins, the songs stand before us in their full, unvarnished nakedness and sound . . . pretty much the same as on record, actually.
Post-intermission, Snow Patrol revert to what they are best at: serving up sugary chunks of stadium rock, shot through with just enough confessional angst to lead you to suspect something interesting may be going on beneath the epic chugging. At Lightbody's behest, the entire room rises to its feet and is soon clapping along to heart-on-sleeve favourites like 'Chocolate', 'Run' and 'Chasing Cars' (drenched in reverb and all the better for it). For their finest track, the prickly ballad 'Set The Fire To The Third Bar', a giggling Lisa Hannigan is brought on to reprise Martha Wainwright's part (in London, Lightbody sang with national treasure Cheryl Cole, of all people). Surreally, they also deliver a note-for-note cover of Elbow's 'One Day Like This' -- a gesture of pointlessness up there with Glen Hansard covering David Gray. It's all perfectly predictable, but you can't deny that, when it comes to sending his public home all tingly and misty-eyed, Lightbody knows exactly which buttons to press.