Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Light Up, Light Up: With Occasional Drifts, Snow Patrol Reigns at the Riv -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

Snow Patrol
w/ opening acts We Are Scientists, Ryan McMullan
Riviera Theatre, Chicago
May 7, 2019

I've liked Snow Patrol all the way back to their 1998 debut album, Songs for Polarbears, which based on the setlist from Tuesday's show at the Riv, the band itself seems to have forgotten about.

It's impressive that the quintet hailing from Northern Ireland (though formed in Scotland) continues to successfully exist all these years later.

I've owned most of their albums, like several songs and first saw them, at the Riv, in 2006. I also caught them opening for U2, twice, in 2009.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Gary Lightbody appears to be one of rock's most affable frontman, and I love watching--on video--massive UK festival crowds sing along lustily with syrupy anthems like "Run" and "Chasing Cars.

2018's Wildness was Snow Patrol's first studio album in seven years, and I was happy to see them again at the Riv on Tuesday night.

With a good balcony seat and two fine opening acts--Ryan McMullan and We Are Scientists--it was a solidly enjoyable evening, and a satisfying performance from a really good band.

That I can't call it astonishing or phenomenal--and am awarding @@@@ (out of 5)--doesn't represent any notable knocks, qualms or disappointments.

That's just kinda where it tops out.

From the opening, "Take Back the City," the band sounded strong, and there were some nice visual backdrops and lighting cues.

But no one except Lightbody draws much attention to themselves, and though Gary's remarks were expectedly genial and gracious, he's not exactly Mick Jagger or Freddie Mercury.

Played 4th, "Empress" is a really nice song from Wilderness, but Snow Patrol hasn't much expanded beyond or improved upon the Final Straw (2003) and Eyes Open (2006) albums.

"Run," "Chasing Cars," "You're All I Have" and some other older songs were the highlights for me, and though new ones fit in fine, few really felt special.

Especially with Lightbody being openly candid in recent years about struggles with depression, it's hard not to root for the guy, who constantly seems to wear a bemused grin.

But he and his bandmates--most from the beginning--are now in their 40s, and I haven't--still--noticed  tremendous evidence of any continuing musical growth. (Even albums prior to Wildness were just so-so.)

"Just Say Yes" made for an energetic closer after neary 2 hours, and indeed I would say, "Yes, I liked Snow Patrol at the Riv."

But the ongoing accumulation just doesn't appear to be that great.

No comments: