Monday 23 April 2018

ROCK

ED POWER

PHOENIX PARK, DUBLIN

For anyone grieving the absence of an Oxegen festival this summer, the last of the week's three Phoenix Park concerts will have felt like coming home. There is mud. Snow Patrol are playing. It rains, just when you had started to think it wouldn't. Squint and you could be standing in the middle of mucky Punchestown, praying your wellies survive the weekend.

The first of the evening's headliners Florence Welch has ditched the jazz era image that was a feature of her visit to Dublin in March. Dialling down the vintage glam, the hippyish Londoner is back working the lady-druid shtick that helped propel her to global success on her first record, 2009's Lungs.

The pagan princess chic in no way impinges on her music, however, which is as glossy and determined to win you over as you'd expect of a major pop star.

Her very best songs are proper barnstormers. Accompanied by multiple horn players and enough backing singers to provision half this year's Eurovision, the goth soul of 'Shake It Out' chimes out evocatively as the grey evening seems to close in on Phoenix Park.

'Dog Days Are Over' is another mood-brightening highlight, an ugly duckling of a tune that has somehow become a mainstream smash. Bedraggled yet full of charm, it could serve as a metaphor for Welch herself, an unlikely icon who has whooshed to the top of pop's food chain. If only Florence didn't keep telling Ireland how much she loves us. While you don't doubt her sincerity, there's a hazy line between gushing and ingratiating and she is in danger of crossing over.

Snow Patrol's latest album had more pants moments than a fire sale at a trouser factory, so it's good that they have a memorable catalogue to fall back on. Rock star scrawny, Gary Lightbody is 50 per cent Chris Martin in man hug mode, 50 per cent indie underachiever who still can't believe he's actually pulling a crowd. He tells you he 's thrilled to be here and you find yourself believing him.

Veering towards the slush-bucket, their songbook is easily scoffed at. But, on tracks such as 'Hands Open' and 'Run', the hooks are so irresistible it doesn't matter. According to Twitter, the band's set can be heard across half of Dublin tonight, which has something to do with unique atmospheric conditions apparently. Lightbody's talent is to make it feel as if he is singing to every listener individually.

Irish Independent

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