Majestic. Triumphant. Brilliant. Words that are repeatedly misused by the Broadsheets when describing mediocre acts on a good night. When these words are then needed to describe music that is so wonderful, so entertaining and sometimes moving, their effect is diluted, dimmed by their overuse. Elbow deserve all these accolades and more. Here is a band riding the crest of a wave. Fresh from winning, a much deserved, Mercury Music Prize, the first night of their full UK tour is a resounding success. Guy Garvey could possibly be one of the best front men in modern music – a humble man with an understated voice and the skill to write some of the best one-liners around.
Sure, the set might be a touch heavy on The Seldom Seen Kid, but that’s to be expected and we are treated to two of the most beautiful songs ever written; ‘Scattered Black and Whites’ during the encore and a resounding ‘Newborn’ to proceed it. First night nerves do show however as drummer Richard Jupp fluffs the opening lines, but the atmosphere is one of sharing music with friends. Garvey keen to ensure we’re “alright” and even stopping ‘Weather To Fly’ to help security get to a woman who was fainting… Even cries of “I love you Guy” from the crowd fail to blindside him, Garvey taking them in his stride.
The scorching, towering, anthem that is ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’ sounds perfect in the Corn Exchange. The reaching lights striving for the high ceiling, bringing on mild vertigo as they pierce the gloom. The reworked intro to ‘Weather To Fly’ also works. A stripped down, almost acoustic, beginning soars into live, admittedly a second time was needed due to the fainting member of the crowd, but it failed to spoil the sense of grandeur that now sits so easily on their hunched shoulders.
Elbow are a band that might deal with the darker side of life, yet all their songs carry an element of hope. As the crowd filtered out into the cool night air, not one person looked down. Everyone had been elated by the show these apparent gruff Northerners had just put on. What we have here is perhaps the one, true, band of the people. A band not afraid of change, darkness or humour, a band that seem to perfectly sum up what it’s like to be alive and living in the 00′s.