52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Please Take it Easy, It Can't All Be My Fault

So, went to see the mighty Snow Patrol last night. For one reason or another, this is the fourth time I have seen them this year:

- backing Athlete at Rock City in February, the week that "Run" was released (dear old Athlete...always the bridesmaid)
- at Oxford Brookes in March, just as they were really taking off
- at Glastonbury (where the crowd singalong to "Run" was a real festival highlight)
- at the Birmingham Academy last night

During that time they have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, had several hit singles, been used non-stop as backing music on Grandstand, toured the USA and generally taken off into the stratosphere.... "Final Straw" is probably my favourite album of the year, and it is definitely the album I have listened to the most.

With all of that in mind, I've got to tell you that I was a little disappointed last night.

First and foremost, what the hell does Gary Lightbody think he is doing with his hair? He looks like Rowlf from the muppets. At one point in the gig, he paused, looked at someone in the front row and said "Why do you keep saying 'take it off' at me?" he then paused to listen for the reply, and then rather indignantly said "It's not a wig!". Get it cut man.

The audience has changed too. The other times I have been to see them, when they were just starting to make it big, there was this kind of joful feeling: the band were clearly thrilled that people were coming to see them at all and couldn't keep the grins off their faces that people actually knew some of the words... this rubbed off on the crowd, and the result was a mutual love-in. This time around, Gary seemed a bit miffed that whenever he played anything from "Final Straw", he got a massive reaction, but when they played one of their older songs, they got nothing and people started chatting amongst themselves or going to the bar. About 3 people cheered when he announced one song, and he remarked that "that's about the number of people who bought the album. We'll be playing plenty more from "Final Straw" tonight." It must be hard for them, and I don't want to sound snobby, but one of the drawbacks of having such a successful record, is that you reach an audience of people who maybe buy 5 CDs a year and who don't go to many gigs. They have a perfect right to be there, of course, but it does affect the atmosphere.

The other thing that was really noticeable was the lack of new material.

I appreciate that this must have been a crazy year for them and their feet won't have touched the ground since "Run" took off in February... they are on the crest of a wave.... but if they want to take this momentum forwards, they are going to need to write some songs, and soon. Especially if the old ones aren't being all that well received by their new audience. I have their last two albums (bought after the Athlete gig), and they are okay, but they are much more indie and less mainstream - there is a reason that "Final Straw" has sold so many copies... it's a bloody good album. It was a big leap forward for them artistically as well as commercially, and people have responded. New songs of a similar quality are required, of they may find themselves disappearing back into the Glasgow Indie scene.

Having said all that - still a good show. (didn't think much of the support though - the ghears - the singer sounds like a sort of a Belfast accented Brian Molko from Placebo, if you can imagine such a thing)

One thing though. The beanie that I bought in February for £8 is now onsale for £10. Is that what success does to you?
Congratulations to Mik and Clare. It was a lovely wedding. I even danced.

...and don't be thinking I've forgotten about David Blunkett. I'll be coming back to him later.


  • At 1:57 pm, Blogger Damo said…

    "When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up" is a great record. I don't think Athlete are always the bridesmaids either - I saw them support a few bands that they then went on to leapfrog... if, that is, these things are measured by commercial success. Which brings me back to Snow Patrol. There are plenty of bands I like that have gone on to be famous - this I like, indie snobbery and lack of ambition are bad things. The only thing is, it brings the expectations of the commercial sector with it. Take Terrorvision, another band I loved. They had a massive hit with an ever so slightly tacky remix... and the press latching onto it killed their career. Similarly, Snow Patrol are going to face the Spanish Inquisition from their record company if there isn't another 'Run' on the next record. Plus the record company will have told them to tour endlessly to capitalise on their recent success. This they have done... and that'll be why you're not hearing new material.

    I love it when good bands become successful, I just despise the wheels of the industry. I may have to rant about this on my blog.

  • At 2:19 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    I was worried about sounding like a snob on this post... I don't begrudge Snow Patrol their success, and I have no gripe with them reaching a wider audience.

    Excellent point about how you measure success though. There are plenty of great albums that did nothing commercially - the Velvet Underground are one of the most influential groups ever, and they barely sold a thing during the lifetime of the band. I can only imagine what the pressure must be like to top "run". No excuse for not getting a haircut though.

    As for the back catalogue - I prefer the reindeer section stuff.


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