Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Let's waste time chasing cars around our heads".

"Let's Waste Time Chasing Cars Around Our Heads"
"It looks like we're in Rome - but it's Leeds!"

I wonder at first if Lead Singer Snow Patrol is being paid by the Leeds tourist board, but as I twist my head and look round at the Civic Hall, lit up and surrounded by the encroaching mid July darkness I know what he means. If we put aside the fact that there's more Northern accents than you'd expect to find - and probably more pairs of checked deck shoes too - then, yes, we might be in Rome.

The first support band - The Pigeon Detectives - they weren't Roman. No, they were most definitely from Rothwell in Leeds [I'd try and write Rothwell phonetically for you just to get this across, but I can't. If you know what either Danny from Embrace or Chris Moyles's friend Longman sounds like then that's the voice you should be using.] And they were all big hair, badly washed t-shirts and tight jeans. But the lead singer had a nice line in rockstar behaviour and they were wanting people to bounce so - with the exception of a slightly drunk middle aged man near me who repeatedly yelled 'get your hair cut' - they went down quite well. The second support act didn't fare quite as well. For starters he wasn't from Rothwell. And though he had a good song about a dead dog visiting him [I kid you not] he wasn't really about the bounce. And this audience - they wanted the bounce. But I could see why he was Snow Patrol's support act - because - as anyone who has listened to Songs For Polarbears will know - Snow Patrol have their dead dog tendencies. Over the course of the albums it's mellowed and hidden itself in arm waving, anthemic songs but it's still there, ready to do whatever it is that a dead dog does.

But we're all quietly pleased when it's time for the main act and to the strains of 'Spitting Games' Snow Patrol emerge. And Lead Singer Snow Patrol has had his hair cut since May when I didn't recognise him in the VIP section at One Big Weekend. He's cute and his accent is adorable. I mentally add him to my fantasy football team. And with those do-doos that herald the start of a very good evening, I'm bouncing. And so, it would seem is all of Millennium Square. Even the guy with ear plugs in a few rows in front of me seems to be tapping his foot. If he carrys on in this manner, he'll be nodding his head by the encore.
"The first time we played in Leeds 3 people turned up. One of those was Bob - Bob from Franz Ferdinand. I'm not claiming that we started something that night - but I think we did"

But we press on - 'Wow', 'Hands Open', 'Chocolate'; Lead Singer Snow Patrol informs us he pays the English crew one blue M&M a week whether they want it or not. They get a guy called Ben ("Do you know the song 'Ben'? This is him!"*) out to play the trumpet. 'Chasing Cars' and everyone sings. Well, almost everyone since there's a fight a few rows in front of me over that perenial gig favourite of someone sitting on someone else's shoulders. But it's beautiful - not the aborted fight, that's rather messy - but hearing those disparate voices singing a song I find incredibly beautiful. And the band feel it too "you're the first audience to sing along with that - you should be proud".

Most bands, if they get lucky, end up with one anthemic song which defines their gigs. The song that everyone holds their breath to hear, whose words reverberate around all those venues up and down the country, whose performance is as much a statement on the part of the audience as it is on that of the band. Those songs where the singers can confidently hold the mic out to the crowd and hear the words come soaring back at them. And it struck me that some how Snow Patrol with 'Chocolate', 'Run' and 'You're All I Have' have managed to get hold of three of these songs [and 'Chasing Cars' seems to be heading that way too]. Which might seem a tad greedy on their part when there are all those bands out there that don't even have one. But it does make for a well balanced gig.
"I like to dedicate this song to everyone, but that's a bit general. So this is for every single fucking one of you. Is that better?"

When we hit 'Run' we knew our time was almost up - and as we sung the words out, arms raised in the air in some moment of glorious abandonment, I couldn't help but feel that this - this magical crowd going, music hearing, hardly definable thing - doesn't get better than this. Everywhere I looked those faces, those voices, those eyes. To borrow a term from my Romantic boys, this is probably as close to the sublime as you can get in the middle of Leeds on a Saturday night. That's the sublime bit I'm borrowing, I don't think they ever had a night out in Leeds after all. And when the words faded out and we were left with the remaining chords I thought I might just cry.

"I want you to shake your ass to this one. C'mon you've all got an ass"

If a boy with a guitar makes such a demand there is only one thing to do. You're going to scream those words and shake your ass. Especially when you hear the opening bars of 'You're All I Have'. And everywhere's a mass of arms, of friends, of strangers, grabbing each other and jumping. And I don't even get too many strange looks when I forcibly scream 'you're cinematic razor sharp' - even from the person who unwittingly ended up with a burst eardrum - just because that line must be shouted even though no one other than Nik and I ever shout it**.

Thankfully preventing me from having to blow into a paper bag (something that would have been difficult given that I only had the little plastic bag that my badges had come in) there's a significant pause before the encore. Significant enough that some people start to leave. But then the boys are back and they end on the rather leftfield 'Tiny Little Fractures'. And there's the command to shake our asses one last time.

Thirty minutes later I take my seat on the last bus home, and switch on 'shuffle'. Through my earpieces I hear the opening bars of 'Run'. My voice is croaky, I'm covered in my own sweat and some one else's beer but this - this is magic.
*When of course everyone knows it was about a rodent.
**The reason why? It was a blog title on DA once. Ten points and a restraining order to anyone who got that.


cat said...

sounds amazing, you now you've had a good night when you're covered in sweat and beer! I'm grinning for you 'cos I always think of you when I hear Snow Patrol, they're "your band" to me, so I'm thrilled it was magical. but bring on that restraining order, 'cos I shout that line too (well, sing it extra loud in the shower at any rate!)

gayle said...

Another restraining order over here please...

Corinne said...