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Snow Patrol makes music that I want to share with people.

This has been the case since the release of 2004’s Final Straw, when I bought 10 copies and passed them around to as many willing ears as I could find. Not because of “Run,” (well, maybe a little), but because it meant something to me in ways that I didn’t realize I had been thirsty for. And since then, the Glasgow-based band is one that I can’t quit, can’t stop listening to, or cease finding resonance with. Very simply, very truly, their music connects; with me and with their millions of faithful fans the world over.

Snow Patrol made their grand return to New York City this week in support of last October’s A Hundred Million Suns and November’s hits compilation Up to Now with a sold-out, two-night stand at the historic Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Wednesday night’s performance was, in typical Patrol fashion, full of grace, gravity, honesty and humor. All one had to do was look around at the revved-up audience members – all singing along, head’s back, or arms up – to see that the night was a genuine celebration of the effect the band has on people. I don’t cringe writing this, because one of my favorite things about being a longtime and dedicated fan of the Patrol is how comforting they are, and comfortable I am with them.

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Joined by Richard Colburn of Belle & Sebastian, the Patrol launched into a hits-heavy set, starting with Suns’ (and personal favorite) “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It,” “Chocolate,” “Hands Open” and “How to Be Dead.” It was a dynamo start for a night of surprises (a rare, tender performance of 2006’s Eyes Open’s “You Could Be Happy”), the usual hilarious story-time breaks by master quick wit Gary Lightbody (look out New York cabbies!), and potent performances of fan favorites like fuzzed-out ballad “Make This Go On Forever” (another personal highlight, or maybe my top Patrol song ever); “Run” (that lead Lightbody to remark, “You’re a gorgeous bunch of people!” afterward); “Shut Your Eyes” (which went on a bit and was the Big Rock Show 101 moment of the night, during which Lightbody remarked that the city was “America’s pilot, you’re right up there at the top and driving this country…!”); and “Chasing Cars” (of course the big hit makes an appearance, and was “dedicated to New York”). New-ish tunes off of Suns, “Crack the Shutters” retained the romantic and overtly sexual vibe it has on record, and “Take Back the City,” a song Lightbody wrote about his love/hate relationship with Belfast, was luminous and inspiring for the New Yorker crowd.

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For the encore, the entire three-part version of 15-minute Suns closer “The Lightning Strike,” (inspired by an electrical storm in Glasgow last winter) received an epically cinematic rendition, that would have, I surmise, quieted the dissenters in the audience who still hold pop-chart success against Snow Patrol. When I spoke to Lightbody last autumn, he remarked that the song “energized” the band, and the importance of closing A Hundred Million Suns with “a heartbeat.” Creatively and emotionally, it did.

Heart isn’t a problem for this band, nor is it a problem for their fans. That’s what it’s about anyway. The fans who have loved the band from numbers 1-85, and probably have since they were just another rag-tag bunch of Irishmen throwing flares in the snow.

“You’re All I Have,” arguably the band’s greatest pure pop song, was the final song of the night, and a perfect, uplifting way to say good-bye to the city the Patrol considers their “…American home. We have way too much fun here. And that’s ‘way’ with 47 million y’s at the end of it.”

Don’t stay away so long from “home” next time, boys. –Carrie Alison, Photos by Carrie Alison

 
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