Snow Patrol with support from Jason Mraz, Kodaline & Foy Vance
15th August 2013
The first Bangor boy to grace Vital’s goliath stage today is the free spirited Foy Vance. Although not the main attraction Foy is an expert at winning the crowd over. A man with a voice like his cannot be ignored, it’s rasp and eloquence intertwine with stunning results. Backed up by a full band the uplifting folky tones of his upcoming album are sounding exquisite. A cover of U2’s ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For‘ continues his momentum, giving new fans something more familiar to sink their teeth into. Foy asks the crowd to help him out during his final track and they joyfully oblige. ‘Guiding Light’ looks set to be one of many gems featured on ‘Joy Of Nothing’ and this will not be the last time its choruses are sang loud and proud in this city. Quality always shines through.
Delivering on their ‘hotly tipped’ status at the top the year Kodaline have taken full advantage of their whirlwind of buzz. There are fully fledged pop songs, with indie touches, hidden amongst their repertoire. ‘High Hopes’ a prime example, getting the whole field involved swaying and singing along.
The surprisingly bashful Dublin four are in a quiet mood but still provide a stimulating performance. They tug at the heart strings with ‘Love Like This’ and return to do it again closing with ‘All I Want’. They have some work to do to shake off their ‘new U2’ tag purveying with stadium yearning choruses – but luckily they leave Bono’s the self indulgence stage craft at the door. (Always a silver lining, eh?) It’s early days yet, but Belfast loved them, showing that they might just have the sticking power needed to fulfil their lofty ambitions.
Jason Mraz might be the strangest booking at a local festival in years. For all extensive purposes he only has one well known track, which was released four years ago! If anything else of interest had been released since then, well, he sure didn’t play it. Jason seems to only deal in bland. How he is able to make a full band and brass section sound so lifeless is beyond us. He was jolly on stage (which is more than can say for some acts) and he’s probably the type of guy you’d want to show you round all the best bars at a beach resort. However the crowd were not into it at all. There is a difference between music to chill out to, and music which makes you shut off completely. Jason is the latter. When in doubt, play a cover. Jason’s choice is Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and is a decent choice, perking up some people’s ears to stop them from chatting to their neighbour. Finally ‘I’m Yours’ is rolled out and reminds everybody they’re actually at a gig. Jason swiftly exits stage left.
The lights go down, the interval playlist fades away and expectant cheers sound out. “I run till my shoes wore down” echos from the giant speakers. We double take. Is that A Plastic Rose’s ‘Kids Don’t Behave Like This’ playing Snow Patrol onto stage? You’re darn right it is! National pride is flowing through us. As if KDBLT wasn’t a tune to get us pumped up enough!
Returning to Vital for a third time the hometown boys kick things off with the guitar driven ‘Hands Open’. Gary Lightbody doesn’t waste a minute, moving straight into ‘Take Back The City’. “This song is written about you Belfast!” he proclaims. A song more relevant than ever after the turbulent months the capital has had.
They fire through a parade of hits. ‘Crack The Shutters’, ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are’ and ‘Spitting Games’ showing off the mix of tunes which the band have developed over the years. Unfortunately they can do nothing about the weather as the rain hammers down, but there comes a point where everybody in the crowd is so wet that it fails to bother anymore and the spirt of the night isn’t dampened.
Gary jokes about his reputation for forgetting song lyrics in celebration of nailing ‘Run’. Typically during the next song, things don’t go so well. ‘How To Be Dead’, how have you been? It’s a long time since we heard you on these shores. We can forgive the lyrics slip up, as it’s sounding fantastic in the open air, well, until the keyboard cuts out. However, we appreciate it’s inclusion. Gary admits that it’s a somewhat somber evening for the band, drawing our attention to long serving keys player Tom Simpson – for which this is his final gig. He wishes him luck in his future projects, dedicating a resounding performance of ‘Chasing Cars’ and the rest of the night to him.
‘Fallen Empires’ is their most ambitious tune of all and is the stand out track of the night. It is free flowing, layered and straight up gutsy. As proven, it’s a song which divides fans. Tonight it hits all the right notes. Arms in the air as the band have one last anthem left to blast out. ‘Just Say Yes’ sends revellers home happy, even if a lack of welly boots might be a decision they’re regret in the morning. Belfast’s love for Lightbody and Co. isn’t anywhere close to fading.