Live Review: Elbow, Capital FM Arena (26/11/12)

Elbow have made a habit of visiting Nottingham when planning their tour schedules, and this was most evident last night when their show at the Capital FM Arena marked the beginning of another UK headline tour. Much like their last performance at the Arena in 2011, the loyal Elbow following filled the venue in anticipation of another exceptional performance.

Here We Go Magic have been selected as the support for this latest run of dates, and they seemed an appropriate act befitting the mood of the night. Promoting their new album ‘A Different Ship’, they appeared keen to impress; although the crowd seemed to stir only a little for the performance.

Yet, this apathy was quick to change when the light went out and the intro video emerged on the screens behind the stage. The video took the form of live camcorder footage following the band backstage – culminating with the band walking out into the Arena, with frontman Guy Garvey carrying the camera. Filming the audience as he went, he crossed the stage and strode out onto the gangway leading to a smaller stage set out in the midst of the crowd. The reception was emphatic and the band took in the atmosphere awaiting them for the start of this new tour.

‘High Ideals’ was an interesting choice to open the show. It enabled the orchestral backing band to demonstrate the value they added to the performance. On record, Elbow produce various songs with predominantly strings contingents and opting to include supporting musicians in the live show really enhanced these songs.

One of the simplest, yet most effective light displays on the night complemented the softer track, ‘Mirrorball’. Indeed, disco-balls placed on the stage allowed light to stream in all directions around the Arena producing quite a picturesque scene. The slower-tempo theme continued into ‘The Night Will Always Win’. The song was performed will the band members all taking to the smaller stage, using a combination of keyboards. Following the song, Garvey and guitarist Mark Potter remained on the small stage to perform an acoustic introduction to ‘Weather to Fly’. This allowed them to engage the crowd in a vocal exchange, before Garvey invited a brave member of the audience to attempt to reach some of the high notes: with surprising success!

Elbow’s 2008 album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ propelled them to new found fame, and one of its lead singles, ‘Grounds for Divorce’ rebuilt the show’s intensity. A veil concealing sections of the stage was removed, which revealed the vast extent of the screen backdrop. The combination of a powerful performance and dramatic lightshow certainly made this a highlight of the night.

The last tour saw Elbow promote their then new studio album ‘Build a Rocket Boys’. A favourite from the album was ‘Lippy Kids’, and this was evident in the crowd reaction when it was played late in the set. A similar response greeted ‘Open Arms’, which has been made even more popular since its performance during the Olympic ceremony last summer.

To close the show, the band used two lengthier songs to engage fans for the last time. ‘The Birds’, a show-opener last tour was chosen as the first song of the encore this time around. And finally, the iconic ‘One Day Like This’ finished the set, and an extended bridge allowed the crowd to sing along with Garvey right to the end.  This exceptional show provided a marker for the band’s true quality, and how far they have come to achieve the mainstream popularity they have gathered in recent years. Garvey announced that the band intend to take a ‘Gap Year’ following the release of their forthcoming album, although this seemed to be an assurance that Elbow would return again to promote the new material in the future. It will surely be eagerly awaited.

Chris Morris

…Chris has been listening to Biffy Clyro – Stingin’ Belle…


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