Snow Patrol: Opera House, Toronto: Thursday, March 30

Snow Patrol: Opera House, Toronto: Thursday, March 30

Warm-up show finds Lightbody and co more than ready for the big time

On this, the last night of their mini north American run in preparation for their upcoming UK dates, Dundee’s finest are doing their damnedest to dampen fears that the successes of 2003 and 2004 were not the final straw. Not by a long shot. With new album ‘Eyes Open’ arriving in May, Gary Lightbody and crew are intent on making this a memorable evening – warts, false starts and all.

They kick off with tried-and-tested ‘Wow’ – the bombast, flare and majesty as bright as Lightbody’s white belt. From there, ‘Chocolate’ creates an arena rock feel in the small and cozy setting. “Thank you very much, Toronto!” Lightbody says. “I have fucking laryngitis so I’m sorry if I don’t hit all the notes.”

No worries though, as Lightbody aces each ditty that comes his way, including the newer material sprinkled throughout the night. ‘It’s Beginning To Get To Me’ is tight radio pop that explodes during the chorus as Nathan Connolly flails away on his guitar. ‘Headlights On Dark Roads’ is an obvious single with its ragged, rowdy and raw flavour. Unfortunately, the lone clunker is ‘Shut Your Eyes’, which falls flat after the somewhat limp and tepid intro.

Perhaps Snow Patrol’s greatest asset is that they are a rock band who can play ballads, not a ballads band that can play rock. Whether it’s the campfire ‘Grazed Knees’ that avoids the sappy, finger-down-your-throat turf of Bryan Adams or ‘Chasing Cars’ which resembles a cousin of U2’s ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’, they excel at big communal singalongs: ‘How To Be Dead’ comes off like their own mini-‘Yellow’.

With the end in sight, the opening notes of their signature tune come through to hoots and hollers. ‘Run’ is still as appealing as ever, their own bitter sweet symphony that precedes a quick two-song encore that has ‘Open Your Eyes’ soaring courtesy of its wall of guitar. When Snow Patrol return, they’ll be bigger than ever.

Jason MacNeil