Snow Patrol @ Cork Opera House

A Matter Of Obtaining a Ticket

Bloody hell, where do I start with this one. Snow Patrol are back in action folks, 7 long years out of action but it was worth the wait. When I heard that they were back – And with that, playing a show in Cork Opera House of all places, it was like a dream come true. The only problem is I heard about it AFTER they had already sold the damn thing out in pre-sale, from a co-worker who knows my penchant for concerts nonetheless, totally upstaging me. I wasn’t having that at all, my reputation was at stake here, so one way or another I had to be at this concert. It quickly became apparent that there was an unusual case with this concert of almost no tickets being touted online, with everyone gripping their precious tickets close to their chests. In the weeks leading up to the concert on May 12th, I in fact only witnessed one singular person looking to dispatch of one ticket, a drop-out from 4 going so it was. The gig gods shone in my favour for some unknown reason, as despite countless offers and some ridiculous figures suggested to them by people, that person who I did not know at all held onto that ticket tightly just for me and allowed me to experience this magical concert, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Brand New Friend

So without further ado let’s get this show on the road. When Snow Patrol burst back onto the scene with a new album on the way, a mini-tour of intimate shows to show face and build the hype was on the agenda, thus a venue like Cork Opera House when they could have easily smashed The Marquee for example. For the support slot, they chose Northern Irish hot prospects Brand New Friend. Indeed to me a brand new name, a quick scout ahead of the show assured me that these guys were making some serious waves and turning heads. Watching them emerge onto the stage, it didn’t take them long to win over everyone in attendance with their exuberance and domination of the stage that would soon host a much bigger band. On vocals are the brother/sister duo Taylor and Lauren Johnson, who are also on guitar and keys respectively, and then Aaron Milligan on Bass and Luke Harris on drums. Their passion and hunger is evident to see as they are both comfortable up there and yet equally incredibly excited for the opportunity they’ve been given. Taylor takes the chance any time he’s not singing to stumble around the stage lost in the music and the guitar that he plays. It’s not lost on them the sway for their local scene they have by performing with such legends, so for every gig of the tour Taylor reps the shirts of local Northern Irish bands, a commendable move and obviously one that meets with my deepest approval. On this night in particular it’s January, elsewhere it’s Sad Tomorrow, General Fiasco, Sleeping Outside, The Couth & Hot Cops. Phew, some list that, if you’ve the time make sure you go checking some of those out!

Lauren and Taylor.png
Lauren and Taylor Johnson of Brand New Friend

On stage, Brand New Friend emanate the most wholesome, joy-filled love for music. They’re electrifying, they’re infectious and they’re authentic. When Taylor calls Snow Patrol the best band in the world before dedicating a song to them, you better believe it’s not just because they’ve put them on a big stage, this band got to share the same stage with their idols, multiple times, and it’s clear they’re simply happy to be there. Towards the end of their set Taylor promises the band will return to Cork soon, and when it eludes him as to what that occasion shall be the trusty bassist Aaron is in quick as a flash to inform us, and him, that it’s for Indiependence festival (An amazing festival that they’re for sure going to kill it at, might I add). When they finish and leave the stage, their choice of band name is apt because the general consensus of one who has heard or seen them play is that they have indeed made a Brand New Friend and are left with a lasting impression. Brand New Friend just released a new video for their latest single ‘Why Are You So Tired’ (This title alone speaks to me on so many levels, relatable), check it out below!

Brand New Friend
Brand New Friend. L-R: Lauren and Taylor Johnson, Aaron Milligan on Bass

Snow Patrol

Sweet jesus I don’t even want to write this part, how does one do justice with these words to that exceptional evening from Snow Patrol? Hope you enjoyed reading about Brand New Friend, peace out ’til next time.

Oh, you’re still here? Fiiine, I’ll try. Once the curtains dropped after BNF’s reign on stage had finished, a huge stage set-up befitting of giants like Snow Patrol was revealed. At the very back of the stage hung a giant, somewhat translucent, curtain featuring the astronaut from the Wildness album. With it’s slightly wavy shimmering it gave the added effect of the astronaut moving slightly, like it was floating in a vacuum of no gravity. The air was tense with the anticipation of Snow Patrol’s appearance, for some like myself it would be the first opportunity to see them in the flesh, for others it was a long awaited reunion. Any doubts one might have had about Snow Patrol being as big a name as they once were by being out of action for so long would be quickly debunked the second Gary Lightbody and co. hit the stage. The yells and cheers from the crowd were deafening, with the smallish population of Cork Opera House sounding every bit like a sold out 3Arena or stadium crowd, myself obviously included. It wouldn’t take much to imagine the absolute rush that they were feeling on stage to be greeted with such a reception – It was evident on Gary’s own face as he looked out at us in gobsmacked awe, the biggest smile on his face. This was going to be simply magical.

Snow Patrol
Snow Patrol owning the stage at the Opera House

What ensued was hands down one of the most incredible concert experiences I’m lucky enough to have in my catalogue. From the quieter songs to the absolute anthems, they had the crowd eating from their hands every second of the way. At this point in time we’d had 4 singles released from the album to give us an idea of what was to come, and we got to experience these plus one or two more sneak peeks, with Gary leaving the crowd particularly entranced by an emotionally driven acoustic rendition of one of the new songs (Don’t Give In, if I recall correctly).

Gary Lightbody - Stripped Back
Gary Lightbody delivers an inspiring stripped back performance of Don’t Give In

All the biggest hits and crowd favourites had their place in the set, and the crowd singing the songs back at the stage was unlike any other occasion I had experienced as everyone was pitch perfect, timed to perfection and clear as day. At one point the instrumental intro to a song began, and just as Gary was about to sing the first note, he was absolutely blown away by several hundred voices blasting away at it, leaving him standing there in a moment that he’ll probably never forget, as the crowd sang the whole verse in unison with 100 percent clarity and pacing with Gary unable to get a word of the song in edgeways (I believe the song in question was ‘Run’).

Gary Lightbody Taken Aback
Gary taken aback as the crowd dominate the song leaving him speechless

From start to finish I was so lost in their performance that nothing else was on my mind, I was simply mesmerized by the whole ordeal. It therefore came as quite the surprise to me to find myself looking at my hand, finding that I had caught one of Nathan Connolly’s plectrums that he threw out to the crowd. Despite going to so many concerts in the last couple years, I had been woefully unsuccessful in my attempts to catch such a piece of memorabilia, and now finally at last I had accomplished it and from such a high profile amazing band nonetheless. Safe to say, it’s now one of my most prized possessions and the best possible ending I could have thought of to what was already an otherworldly experience that evening.

Nathan Connolly
Nathan Connolly of Snow Patrol
Nathan Connolly Pick
Nathan’s Plectrum

Meeting BNF

In a state of pure elation I began the exodus out of the Opera House, shuffling along towards the exit. I was already thinking ahead to the merch counter, and as enticed by getting something Snow Patrol related, I had only one thing at the front of my mind. On the way into the venue I had glimpsed a Brand New Friend vinyl for their debut album ‘Seatbelts for Aeroplanes’ on the merch counter and I knew without a doubt after that show that it was coming home with me. I reached the counter and immediately without hesitation pointed out the vinyl, then spotted a Snow Patrol shirt I wanted and added that in.

Seatbelts for Aeroplanes
Brand New Friend’s album Seatbelts for Aeroplanes
Snow Patrol Shirt
Snow Patrol shirt

Glancing over next to the merch counter I spotted all the band members of BNF so next on my agenda was to meet them and thank them for an incredible show. Meeting them in person, they were every bit as friendly and enthusiastic as they came across on stage, just the most genuine bunch. They passed around my vinyl for them all to sign and we chatted a little bit. In my fresh excitement from what had transpired inside the concert, I mentioned that I had caught my very first band pick from Snow Patrol. This led to another unbelievably awesome moment from the evening as without even a moments hesitation BNF’s bassist Aaron Milligan quickly reached into his pocket, produced his own pick and signed it before handing it to me.

Aaron Milligan Pick
Aaron Milligan’s signed pick

I went home that night in the highest of spirits, and once I got in the door I was ready to chuck the vinyl on immediately for a good spin. I was in for a right awesome treat as I took the vinyl out only to discover it was an amazing wine-coloured record, what a lovely surprise. I intend to get the Snow Patrol album Wildness on vinyl soon, though in the meantime I managed to pick up an awesome bargain of their album Eyes Open on a double vinyl, the album that originally brought the music of Snow Patrol into my life.

BNF Lovely Vinyl Colour
Lovely unexpected colour of BNF’s Vinyl
Snow Patrol Eyes Open
Eyes Open Snow Patrol Album on Double Vinyl

Author: The Merch Perch

Music enthusiast, Merch Collector, blogger of both worlds combined. Check it!

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