Elbow
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Elbow




The trickle of a Tuesday night crowd filtered in while the local outfit Playwrite stepped out to offer their wares to the early birds. Hinging off their genuinely sparkling “Whittaker” single, the comparisons with fellow boys about town Husky are and will be unavoidable. They pottered about effortlessly and looked at home on the in the beautiful surrounds. This is only their beginning, but what a start…

The lights dimmed as warming strings darted among the shadows of the Forums looming pieces. While the crowed calmly swelled to something resembling full capacity, a few familiar figures shuffled out from the darkened stage to a well-earned roar from the masses. One by one, beers held triumphantly aloft like fashionably late party guests and at the head of it all was the irrepressible frontman, Guy Garvey.

With no need for any carry-on, the Manchester based stalwarts launched smartly into “Charge”, pulled straight from the band’s latest release "The Take Off And Landing Of Everything". A subtle but kind opening from a band who’re well versed in considered delivery. The room, it seemed, was filled with old friends.

“Is everyone ok?” asked Garvey of the crowd, sipping at his on-stage survival concoction. We were. “Alright…”

Preliminaries aside, the sparse chords rang out from the hands of guitarist Mark Potter and “Bones Of You” took hold. Harking back to Elbow’s Mercury Prize winning album 'Seldom Seen Kid', the engulfing lyric matched ably by Garvey’s impassioned tones. Engaging as ever, the lumbering gent kick on into his customary role as the evening’s MC, evoking a road show reprisal of his weekly radio slot with the BBC. Wherever Elbow happen to be, their collective is born out of a kinship and the dutiful crowd are more than willing company.

The rumbling charge of “Fly Boy Blue” took hold as Garvey’s lilting whim took hold. The meandering tune faded without fuss as Pete Turner’s deadened bass line shifted and the utterly gorgeous narrative of the remorseful indulger played out in “Lunette”. Garvey, strained through the sadness of his relationship broken, had decamped in the last year to New York, recording his every thought, piecing together the path of which to take.

Here was its dirge, sins expelled but not let go; ‘And I'm sure, last ditch that I'll ask for more time; But Mother forgive me; I still want a bottle of good Irish whiskey; And a bundle of smokes in my grave.’ Shamed into submission, but holding on to a glimmer of joy, Garvey lead the way proudly.

Again, Garvey opined. This time from a dark place.

“I’ve some advice for you lot… when you’re missing someone that you’re never gonna see again, don’t do it at night,” he moaned, wearily. “Do it during the day, with someone else who’s missing them as well. The night takes over.”

A wise preamble indeed for “The Night Will Always Win”, lifted gently from the bands over-thought hangover album, 'Build A Rocket Boys!' from 2011. Still, it transferred with ease to the stage, a shared problem is a problem halved, it would seem as the heads tilted caringly around the room.

“Is everyone still ok?” inquired Garvey. We were, still. “Ahh good…”

Through the rise and rise of Elbow, there is some inevitable leaning on the latter success in the setlist. However, this can be amended accordingly if you’re in the right place at the right time often enough.

“Touring in Australia is different to other places,” Garvey explained to a mystified sea of curious eyes. “Because it’s so far between cities, you fly. You don’t get back on the bus after each show, back into your own little protective womb. This means that the setlist police can accost you at an airport because they’re catching the same plane to the next show. And the next show. And the next. They always pick you up if you’ve not played their favourite song in one of the shows. So this is for Nicky. This is from our first album.”

“Scattered Black and White”, appropriated beautifully from 2001 debut 'Asleep In The Black' didn’t at all sit out of place, like it was made to evolve.

Falling back to their mega-band status is an easy one. The working pleasantries of “The Birds” and the ever sweet “Mirrorball” before the impact player took to the field. “Grounds For Divorce” announced Elbow’s (now) seminal 'Seldom Seen Kid' in 2008 with a great spill of drama, sorrow, longing and fear all kept at bay by the ever present bar. Garvey’s theatre was always to join in the faux-chorus as Mark Potter’s riff thundered to the fore by smashing a fancy lagerphone or a loan snare. Now he decamps the stage edge to sit beside drummer Richard Jupp at a tiny kit, crashing his way through the racket like a child. The grins are as wide as the bright lit stage itself.

With the traditional game of hide’n seek sadly added to the Elbow set these days, the band decamped for a brief moment to fetch a beer.

And, surprise, the were back just in time to feed the hungry mouths. “Lippy Kids”, the nostalgia riddled overtone single from 'Build A Rocket Boys!' warranted a good cheer to go with a beer before the monumental “One Day Like This” warmed every heart in the room. There can’t be many tunes with that gravity that haven’t been ridden so hard that their very existence has inverted to breed sneering spite. Everyone who could clasped arms and even a few who shouldn’t, did.

Was everyone still ok? They were.

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