Snow Patrol was formed in Scotland in 1994 at the University of Dundee, although the band members hail from Northern Ireland. The band is comprised of Gary Lightbody on vocals & guitar, Nathan Connolly on guitar & backing vocals, Paul Wilson on bass guitar & backing vocals, Jonny Quinn on drums, and Johnny McDaid on piano, guitar & backing vocals.
Snow Patrol rose to prominence around the turn of the Millenium, spearheading the “post-Britpop” movement of Indie-Rock bands. Releasing two albums (Songs for Polarbears and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up) on an independent label, it was 2002’s major label release FInal Straw which catapulted the band to national fame. Certified 5x Platinum in the UK, and going on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide, Final Straw was the beginning of a run of international selling releases. Anthems such as Chasing Cars propelled the band to international stature.
To date, Snow Patrol have sold over 16 million records worldwide, and have been nominated for six Brit Awards. Snow Patrol represents one of the most significant Indie-Rock bands to emerge out of Britain in recent years.
With a strong fan base, capable of selling out stadium arenas, Snow Patrol’s live shows demand rock-solid equipment to back them up. As is becoming more typical for live bands, everything except the vocals and guitar runs directly to the mixing desk.
Snow Patrol’s live shows are a deceptive blend of traditional rock band arrangements, with cutting edge equipment backing up the live show. Kemper guitar amp modellers plus a complex keyboard rig of controllers and virtual synths, all require the best MIDI integration available.
As with most live acts nowadays, Snow Patrol employ playback to enhance their live sound and performance. Very much the “icing on the cake”, every performer plays to their own personalised click-track, and to pre-recorded elements impossible to perform live.
As an example, “Set The Fire To The Third Bar” features a prominent vocal by singer/songwriter Martha Wainwright. Whilst she is unable to tour with the band, her video projection appears behind the band for the song, along with her vocal.
iConnectivity Delivers The Goods
Enter playback tech, Matt Cox, of Gravity Systems. Matt is a veteran MIDI/Playback rig designer, with Gravity System’s list of clients including such heavyweights as Orbital and The Chemical Brothers.
We recently caught up with Matt backstage at Snow Patrol’s show at the Manchester Arena. Matt was kind enough to show us through Snow Patrol’s playback rig, which comprises two PlayAUDIO12 interfaces, two mio4 interfaces (soon to be replaced by iConnectMIDI4+ for iOS control) as well as occasional iConnectMIDI2+ interfaces scattered around stage.
We first became aware of PlayAUDIO12 when it was first released, and decided to get on it straight away. It was the form factor, size and weight which we loved. It’s enabled us to slim down a big heavy playback rig down to a much lighter, flyable setup.
We used to have to have playback rigs in different locations, as they were too heavy to fly. Now we can take this rig anywhere we want to go.
On a show of this scale, having a computer failure, live is not an option. To this end, Snow Patrol’s show is run from a pair of MacBook Pro laptops, each running synchronised sessions of Ableton Live.
Should one computer fail during a show, PlayAUDIO12’s failover technology will ensure the show carries on without a hitch. This is doubly important, as whilst the band are entirely capable of performing without backing tracks, their Ableton rig performs multiple duties.
Patch changing on the guitarist’s Kemper Profiler and Fractal Axe FX amp simulators is carried out via automated MIDI commands, which are fired off from Ableton in sync with the songs.
Additionally, Matt has the responsibility of ensuring the band’s auto-cue system works correctly, which is also synced via MIDI, so that the lyrics to the songs are auto displayed in-sync and on-time.
With so much relying on Perfect Playback, it’s an honour to be the interface manufacturer of choice for Snow Patrol’s fantastic stadium shows. Our huge thanks to Matt Cox, Gravity Systems, and Snow Patrol for choosing iConnectivity.