Snow Patrol

Button Factory, Temple Bar

Button Factory, Temple Bar

Most bands of Snow Patrol’s stature don’t deign to engage with an audience they can see all too clearly anymore, let alone expose themselves to the kind of banter and heckling they have long since left behind. So a gig such as this –­ which sees a slimmed-down band perform as part of the run up to the Meteor Choice Music Prize Irish Album of 2011 Awards – is as instructive as it is enjoyable.

First, the engagement process: Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly and Johnny McDaid saunter onto the stage, confess that they'd played at the venue, many years ago (when it was called the Temple Bar Music Centre) and had failed to sell it out, yet there was no hint of either overt humility or returning heroes –­ merely a few musicians busking out some hits ("some of our many classics," deadpans Lightbody) and a few tracks from their new album, Fallen Empires.

While the hits (which included Eyes Open, Run, Crack the Shutters, Chasing Cars, Just Say Yesand Set the Fire to the Third Bar,the latter featuring backing vocals from Maria Doyle Kennedy) were greeted like long lost friends, the emotional impact of the evening was, interestingly, reserved for the songs previewed from Fallen Empires.


The band's sixth studio album and their follow-up to 2008's A Hundred Million Suns, Fallen Empiressees the band tweak their sound; you'd never guess it from the acoustic busking on show, of course, but what transpired was how developed a songwriter Gary Lightbody has become.

No one is ever going to praise Snow Patrol for being even at the sharper end of cutting-edge, but with new songs such as This Isn't Everything You Are, Called Out in the Dark,and the gorgeous, lyrically depth-charged likes of New Yorkand Life-ning, one can guess that they've reached a point of acceptance of their strengths and limitations. Next stop? The O2, January – bigger audience, bigger sound. This, however, was a reminder that small can be just as good.