The Open House team put on an incredible programme of events across the month of August but none was more anticipated than a rare homecoming show for local heroes Snow Patrol. The show was to act as a celebration for the freedom of the borough being granted to frontman Gary Lightbody.
Continuing in his role championing local artists, Gary curated a supporting cast all living in the vicinity of Bangor. As the sun beat down on McKee Clock Arena, 50% of the Florentinas took to the stage.
The band are widely regarded as one of our hottest prospects and this performance was another good one to get under their belts. The songs are strong enough to make them an engaging listen despite their stripped back nature. Tonight serves as a good reminder to try and catch this young band before they step up.
Lucy Gaffney is up next and having delivered stellar music alongside her brother under the guise of Southern and MMODE, now we see her going solo. Her set is full of breezy indie pop including two future singles in the form of ‘Big Love’ and ‘Pitfalls. It makes for pleasant listening in the warm early evening sunshine.
David C Clements is the final support of the evening and the self proclaimed “Bangor blow in” enchants as usual. That incredible voice and sublime song writing drive the set and we get treated to a good portion of his debut record ‘The Longest Day in History’. ‘My Dear Mother’, ‘I’m Still Alive’, and ‘Coast’ are all highlights.
Our only complaint is no run out for ‘ Hurricane’, although this is probably not the occasion for the 7 minute wonder. He leaves us with news that a new album is on the way and a taster in the form of ‘The Garden’. Colour us excited.
After some brief words from Ards and North Down Mayor Karen Douglas and Kieran Gilmore of Open House Festival, the man of the hour and his band enter the fray. They receive a rapturous welcome from a now fully packed venue. Sensing the time for chat is later, Gary simply says “Here’s some songs” and off we go.
It is a set full of hits and when you’ve 7 studio albums excluding their greatest hits and reworked, there is a lot to get through. ‘Chocolate’, and ‘Crack the Shutters’ are a fitting opening and set the tone for the night. Things get nostalgic for ‘Run’ as Iain Archer -re-joins the band for a full hearted rendition.
Lightbody has always been a charming frontman and his down to earth nature is reflected in his between songs chat. From referencing his forgetfulness for lyrics even after 28 years of the band and joking that ‘Set The Fire To The Third Bar’ sounds stalkerish without someone duetting with him. There’s also a dilemma over whether its appropriate to re-dedicate and play ‘Take Back the City’ for Bangor rather than its original focus on Belfast and a nostalgia tinged insight into the family history for ‘I Think Of Home’.
He opens up further on ‘Life On Earth’ with an account of the brutal struggle with writers block that meant the song took five years to write. Loud cheers rise when Lightbody declares that he feels now he could write for “another twenty five years now”.
Despite being an acoustic show (Gary flanked by Nathan Connolly and Jonny McDaid), the songs still hit home and the audience join in with relish at every opportunity. ‘You’re All I Have’ and ‘Chasing Cars’ see the audience at their peak and the final song before the encore (‘Open Your Eyes’) reaches lofty heights.
As curfew fast approaches Snow Patrol return for two final songs, ‘What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get?’ and ‘Just Say Yes’. A fitting conclusion to a wonderful night of music. A fitting celebration for recognising the award to Gary Lightbody but also appreciating the talent we have on our doorstep.
With profits from the event going to fund the Open House’s new music venue in the town, the benefits for the 5,000 attendees were two fold. Firstly they got to enjoy four wonderful artists from the Bangor area on a beautiful summers evening on the seafront. Secondly their financial contribution will ensure that other artists and musicians have access to a supportive and nurturing venue/organisation to build their careers. A true success.