In 2006, Snow Patrol were pretty-much in charge of mainstream UK rock. Formed more than a decade earlier by a trio of students from Northern Ireland studying at Dundee University, and under the name Polar Bear, their first two albums and an EP were released with minimal commercial impact. Very minimal.
But 2003's indie sleeper hit, the Mercury-nominated 'Final Straw', followed by the knock-out punch of 'Eyes Open' (2006), was enough to earn Snow Patrol, fronted by the twitching Gary Lightbody, the keys to the executive bathroom at Rock Towers.
'Final Straw' peaked at No 3 in the UK charts (No 1 in Ireland) and 'Eyes Open' was No 1 in the UK and a top 30 album in the US. The world fell over itself to nominate Snow Patrol for every imaginable award. Across 2005 and 2006, the band picked up six BRIT Award nominations, a couple of MTV noms and even a nomination for a Grammy for 'Chasing Cars' as best single. Nearly always the bridesmaid, Snow Patrol missed out on most of those gongs but did pick up an Ivor Novello award for Best Album (for 'Final Straw').
If the band split judging panels, then the music press and public seemed equally divided. Fans of Snow Patrol spoke of anthemic sing-along arena rock that wore its heart on its sleeve. Yet, to the naysayers, 'Snooze Patrol' produced leaden dad-rock. On balance, the 'ayes' just about edged it and Gary Lightbody and co prevailed.
After the bright lights of 'Eyes Open', came 2008's 'A Hundred Millions Suns'. The record received a more muted critical response but was no less successful, topping the UK chart and peaking at No 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, the band's best ever performance in the US.
A sixth album, 'Fallen Empires', is due for release in November 2011 and the band are in the process of announcing a 2012 UK and Ireland tour. Lead guitarist Nathan Connolly warns that he expects a mixed reception for the record, saying the band has taken a new musical direction and urging fans to have an open mind. If it's Dad Rock, you owe me five pounds.
Two 2012 dates have been announced so far, for The O2 in Dublin on 21st January 2012, followed by Belfast's Odyssey Arena on 23rd January.
We will have tickets for both dates when they go on sale at 9AM on Friday 23rd September, priced from 44 for Dublin and £33 for Belfast. More UK dates will be announced soon.
Ahead of the new record, Snow Patrol are playing the HMV Forum in London on 27th October as part of the Q Awards tour. Face value tickets are long-since sold out. They are also playing as part of the 'Children in Need Rocks Manchester' gig on 17th November, along with Michael Bublé, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Elbow. And if you think tickets for that have sold out, you'd be right.
With the initial Dublin (21st) and Belfast (23rd) dates being snapped-up on Friday, the boys have now added two more at both venues, meaning they now play Dublin's O2 Arena on 20th and 21st and Belfast's Odyssey Arena on 23rd and 24th January 2012. Tickets for the new dates are on sale now.