Last year’s “Giants of All Sizes” saw Elbow lament on the current state of the UK and reflect on the recent deaths of several family and friends. So would these darker lyrics affect what would usually be a joyous event?
Before we could find that out, we had the wonderful Jesca Hoop providing support. On stage with just her guitar and two violinists, her blend of folk/rock and audience chat kept everyone’s attention. Highlights for me were “Memories Are Now” and “Murder of Birds” (which Guy Garvey joined Jesca on stage).
Elbow took the stage to a rapturous welcome and kicked off their set with “Dexter & Sinister” from the new album. Guy Garvey singing “I don’t know Jesus anymore” over an ominous bass riff makes you think it could be a heavy night. But, of course, The Nicest Man In MusicTM takes over and the party atmosphere immediately returns. Whether its cracking jokes, telling stories or accepting a whisky from the crowd (and then ordering a round for the band) Garvey and the band seem to be enjoying playing a more intimate venue than they probably have in recent years.
The set itself is a mix of old and new (with four tracks from the recent album) and allows the crowd to sing along to their favorites; on a number of occasions Garvey splits the room into three to do some vocal harmonies. Pleas for other songs go unrewarded because “we haven’t rehearsed it but we’ll definitely do it for you next time” – its difficult to please everyone now they have such a hefty back catalogue. The evening finishes with the classic “One Day Like This” with the crowd joining in a seemingly endless rendition of the final refrain with nobody wanting the night to end.
Setlist: Dexter & Sinister, Fly Boy Blue / Lunette, Mirrorball, Empires, Station Approach, My Sad Captains, White Noise White Heat, Little Fictions, Magnificent (She Says), Kindling, Weightless, The Bones of You, Grounds For Divorce
Encore: Lippy Kids, One Day Like This