Maybe it was the crackling, electric atmosphere and the thunderous applause that rained down on them as they took the stage. Or perhaps it was all the pent-up frustration from the week’s worth of thumb-twiddling that came after the band was forced to cancel a trio of Florida shows in the catastrophic wake of Hurricane Frances. But most likely—when you really get down to it—this was a case of Snow Patrol deliberately shedding its image as a group of upbeat yet enigmatic Brit-poppers and recasting themselves as full-blown indie rockers who can writhe, kick and scream with the best of them.
Within moments of greeting the crowd, the Scottish quartet made its intentions known, erupting into a frenetic, whirlwind version of the aptly titled “Wow” that instantly swept the sold-out crowd off its feet. Frontman Gary Lightbody, well-rested and eager to perform, let loose his warm tenor on an appreciative sea of bobbing heads, while guitarist Mark McClleland, himself a flurry of frantic motion, unleashed a torrent of driving riffs. And things didn’t let up from there. Within the smoky haze of a packed Cotton Club, mostly mid-tempo, hook-heavy anthems like “How To Be Dead,” “Gleaming Auction” and “Spitting Games” were suddenly transformed into simmering, hi-octane thrillers drenched in infectious energy and white-hot distortion. Even the band’s now ubiquitous radio hit, “Run,” a harrowing bit of melancholic pop, became something of a swirling tempest steeped in cathartic intensity.
Still, Snow Patrol was not all fire and brimstone. A stirring rendition of “An Olive Grove Facing the Sea” (from the band’s 2001 sophomore effort When It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up) and an equally stunning take on the gorgeous “Chocolate” proved that the group, when called upon, knows a thing or two about subtlety and restraint. But, in the end, this night was all about the rock: thick, loud and gloriously liberating.