Gig Review: Snow Patrol / Kodaline / Roe – First Direct Arena, Leeds (29th January 2019)

My favourite memories of Snow Patrol will always be listening to Eyes Open in the car with my dad. When I got the confirmation of this gig, I was definitely excited, even though I’ve been slacking on getting to know the most recent album. There was a large mix of ages at the venue with what seemed to be lots of families out to enjoy the music together.

Roe (c) Jack Barker

Although I had a bit of a rush finding my seat, I made it in time for the first act, Roe, to take the stage. I’ll start off by saying that Roisin Donald is a very skilled musician. Taking the stage alone playing a whole range of instruments including guitar and keys, along with singing her heart out, Donald’s presence alone filled the stage. Although the venue wasn’t half full yet, this didn’t cage her enthusiasm when she began her set with “Monster”. A quick introduction explaining how excited she was to be there tonight and that the last time she played in Leeds it was to about 50 people. Bit of a difference to an arena!

Introducing her new single “Dark Days” which is being released in February, you could tell how shy she was, but this definitely didn’t come across when she was performing. After “Hey Thomas” you could tell the growing crowd were showing their support as their cheers were getting louder with each song.  Finishing the set with “Playground Fights”, Roe made a quick exit off the stage followed by cheers from the crowd.

Kodaline (c) Jack Barker

After a prompt stage change, it was now time for Kodaline. The arena was about half full and from where I was sat, I could see plenty of people still entering the venue. Opening the set with a newer song, “Follow Your Fire”, the band got a huge cheer and a very loud “I LOVE YOU!” from an audience member. Steve Garrigan on vocals and Jason Boland on bass were instantly getting the crowd involved, encouraging hands clapping along in the air.

Garrigan played multiple instruments throughout the set, rhythm guitars, keyboards, harmonica and the mandolin. “Ready” showed off the backing vocals from the rest of the band and received a great reaction from the crowd. The band took a moment to ask “How’s everybody?” and “Are you looking forward to Snow Patrol?” which had the whole venue cheering in response. “Brother” definitely had the crowd’s attention as there were barely any phones in the air, with the majority of eyes focused on the stage.

When the rest of the band left the stage to Garrigan and an acoustic guitar, he announced that they wrote the next song as a wedding present to a friend about finding “The One”. This song had lots of fans singing along and joining in waving their torches. There was still one chorus left when the crowd started cheering. When Garrigan said “Well, I should probably finish this now”, a fan at the front shouted “You can do it!!”, which sent the arena into a round of laughter.

The final song of the set, and probably their most well-known song (forgive me if I’m wrong) had the whole crowd singing along to the chorus. With a quick “Thank you for listening to us tonight”, Kodaline began “All I Want” and you could feel the emotion from the song radiating into the audience.

Snow Patrol (c) Jack Barker

It was soon time for Snow Patrol and the venue was pretty much full by the time they took the stage. With a huge cheer, the band were welcomed to Leeds, with Gary Lightbody, lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboard, instantly getting the crowd clapping to the intro to “Take Back the City”. The whole band’s energy didn’t falter throughout the entire set and Lightbody was constantly moving around the stage.

Carrying on with some classics, “Chocolate” and “Crack the Shutters” definitely made the long time fans stand out in the crowd. Time for a pause and Lightbody announced how lovely it was to be back in Leeds. It was their first time playing the First Direct Arena in Leeds as it wasn’t built the last time they played in the city. With a joke about how long they had been away working on new music, it was time to hear them play “Empress” off the album Wildness. With clever visual effects on the screen behind the band, during “Open Your Eyes” the original music video was displayed. Lots of the crowd were filming this song, proving how much people still love the older Snow Patrol music.

Another pause to thank their special guests and for a funny story. Lightbody was standing at the side of the stage for Roe’s set and a security member was adamant that he could not stand at the side of the stage because he didn’t have his pass on him. Carrying on he said that when he’s home, his friends sometimes ask, “What’s it like to be famous”, to which he replied “I don’t fucking know… I can’t even stand at the side of the stage at the gig I’m playing!” which has the whole crowd laughing. Announcing that the next song was special to them as it was their big hit after the first 10 years of not feeling any great success, “Run” is definitely a crowd favourite.

Snow Patrol (c) Jack Barker

The staging looked like they were surrounded by a barrier which to begin with I thought was a little strange, especially seeing how much the band members were moving around the stage, however it was all made clear during “You Could Be Happy” when a mesh frame dropped and surrounded them. The next new song was “Life on Earth” which was explained to be one of the reasons why the latest album took so long to write. “Shut Your Eyes” was definitely a crowd pleaser with most singing along to the whole song. During the song Lightbody joked about how tall the venue was and that he didn’t want the top tier feeling left out, getting nose bleeds and eating Kendal Mint Cake. He really got the crowd participating, getting them to sing “Shut your eyes and sing to me” one tier of the audience to the next.

“Lifening” made its first appearance on the Wildness tour at Leeds, with Lightbody dedicating the song to his dad. Getting towards the end of the set, the audience were all waiting for “Chasing Cars” and they were not disappointed. The crowd on the floor of the arena were all jumping and really getting into the song and a lot of the people near me on the balcony were on their feet dancing.

When it was time for the encore, Lightbody made a heartfelt thank you to the crowd for packing out the venue. “What If This Is All the Love You Ever Get?” was the first song with only Lightbody and Johnny McDaid on the piano.  Lightbody asked for help in the chorus as it’s very high and his first attempt didn’t quite go to plan with a quick “F*ck” which had the crowd laughing once again. The band joined again for the last song of the night, “Just Say Yes”.

Despite Snow Patrol having been away for a number of years, it is clear that they still have a loyal fan base that can fill an arena on a Tuesday night, singing along and cheering with some impressive enthusiasm. Hopefully the band won’t be leaving it another 11 years before returning to Leeds.

Photos by Jack Barker Photography

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