live review ~ a night for rem ~ the limelight, belfast

United in anticipation and excitement, nestled under the soft glow of a minimalist stage set-up, a packed Limelight launched themselves to the barrier as Radio Ulster's own Rigsy took to the stage for the final time. He'd played the momentousness of the occasion to complete perfection, riling the crowd for every act of this fantastically organised night in aid of  Alzheimer's research, before calming proceedings to discuss the importance of the night itself. Yet before long, it couldn't be contained any longer. With a weary smile and a knowing nod to the side of the stage, it was finally announced. Snow Patrol where at the Limelight and history was about to be made.

Opening with a beautifully composed cover of 'Nightswimming', the returning hero's were in control from the moment they stood before the adoring crowd. Johnny McDaid's beautiful piano arrangements flowed seamlessly with an on form Gary Lightbody, his voice as captivating and fresh as it had been on the bands breakthrough third album 'Final Straw', and it's from this album that the band seemed to take inspiration from, bringing out a stripped down version of alternative hit 'Chocolate'. Instead of the instantly recognizable guitar riff Lightbody instead relied on the intuition of the audience, singing the notes with a delicate passion appropriate for such an intimate venue. Over highlights of a captivating set came from 'A Hundred Million Suns' glorious 'Crack The Shutters', before both Lightbody and guitarist Nathan Connolly had the chance to pour light on their respective side projects. The incredible 'All Things All At Once' from Tired Pony's 'Ghost Of The Mountain' and Little Matador's 'Shatter' briefly energized proceedings, as the crowd shifted from it's previous sea of waving arms to a cacophony of swaying bodies. Even those unfamiliar with Connolly's new brand of rockier indie seemed won over by his raw, powerful and artistically nonchalant vocal delivery.

Ending on a rare acoustic performance of the slightly electronic 'Just Say Yes', it was a triumphant return for Northern Ireland's biggest exports. For those packed into the tiny Limelight that night, it will certainly be a gig that will live long in the memory, long after the final echos of 'Light Up, Light Up' had faded into nothing. They will almost certainly never play another venue as small again.

Taylor Johnson

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