It should come as no surprise to anybody who reads this that Elbow’s performance at the L.G. Arena was without a doubt the most flawless musical performance I have witnessed in twenty years of life. As a band who have been together since they were seventeen years it seems obvious, even patronising to praise their utterly comprehensive understanding of one another’s musical performances, but I could not pick out even one moment when their performance was not totally flawless. They are a band who know each other inside out, and on the night it truly showed.
Prior to the appearance of Elbow, support act Jimi Goodwin [7/10] opened to an ever growing crowd. A man with a considerable reputation himself, bassist for renowned veteran indie outfit Doves, Goodwin was in support of long-time friends Elbow in an attempt to promote his solo work. Goodwin’s solo work was good, a testament to his many years in the British indie scene, and whilst no one song left me particularly stunned there can be little doubt that debut solo album ‘Odludek’ will be relatively commercially successful.
The departure of Goodwin from the stage meant that it was time for only one thing. The first concert Elbow [10/10] had played in a year and a half did not look it, and the band proved they still oozed charm and confidence. Frontman Guy Garvey is well renowned for his unique voice, but no recording can do justice to hearing it live. In two hours of solid performance Garvey’s voice did not even begin to sound like it might deteriorate. Garvey managed to maintain the most incredibly husky, gravelly sound, whilst simultaneously handling the sweet and beautiful sound synonymous with the band. Elbow opened the set with a series of songs from new album The ‘Take-off and Landing of Everything’. Having not listened to any of the new album prior to the concert, I was unsure of what the sound of the album would be, but it should come as no surprise to read that I was not disappointed. The new material maintains the ethereal rock and string combination unique to Elbow, and it sounds as good as Elbow’s music ever has. However, as good as the new material was, it was evident the crowd were growing restless in anticipation of the work that gave Elbow the musical status they hold today. The band opened the older material with a thumping rendition of ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’. What was to commence from this point forward was nothing short of perfection, and I found myself immersed in a sea of sounds. Hit after hit spilled forth from stage, from the pounding riff of ‘Grounds For Divorce’ to the downright heavenly resonances of ‘Lippy Kids’ (cue call and response whistling) to which Elbow exited stage. At this point, I thought I was about to be let down, but just as everybody had begun to give up hope of an encore, the band re-emerged on stage to close the show with the song everybody had been waiting for. As ‘One Day Like This’ filled the L.G. Arena from wall to wall, Garvey and company barely needed to play. The crowd had begun to do the work for them, and it made for a stunning finish. As the mystery orbs I had mistaken for lamp fittings began to drop from the roof, revealing themselves as enormous luminous beach balls, I watched the crowd bounce them around between themselves and sing from the terrace, and in that moment I realised why Elbow were one of the most commercially successful bands of the 21st century.