Tonight Elbow played the first of their two nights at London’s O2 arena – and although the band are no strangers on the festival circuit, this is undoubtedly the biggest indoor show of their career to date. I’ll admit it was with some trepidation that I looked on not quite sure how the crowd would receive
Gary Guy Garvey and his gang – I’ve always thought of Elbow as an intimate band and the O2, quite frankly, well, doesn’t conjure up an image of intimacy. However, and I’m pleased to report, Elbow appeared to be very at home on the bigger stage this evening.
Elbow are a band that took the scenic route to stardom, and although this Mancunian quintet have been together for a staggering 20 years, it was only in 2008 that they received the recognition that they so thoroughly deserved when they won the prestigious Mercury Prize award. Fast forward three years and Elbow take to the stage with an air of confidence. Garvey is as charming as he is brilliant, an instantly likeable chap, schmoozing the crowd and making you feel like you’re huddled in a room of close friends.
The night kicks off with The Birds from their newly released fifth studio album, Build a Rocket Boys! – and waltzing on with fellow stand-out-tracks Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver, Lippy Kids and recent single Neat Little Rows. As the opening bar of Mirrorball rings out, a giant glittering sphere of mirrors descends down from the ceiling, a prop that is only topped when somebody launches a pair of knickers on to the stage which, incidentally, Garvey scoops up from the floor and tucks into the pocket of his suit-jacket.
The night culminates with the sound of the glorious juddering-juggernaut anthem that is One Day Like This, a tailor-made song for arenas. As the band leave the stage you cannot help but feel you’ve witnessed something special, Elbow are still very much a band of the people, five ordinary guys writing about ordinary life. It’s easy to see how their music is often considered the soundtrack to the lives of working class people.
This is the forth time that I’ve witnessed Elbow live and they just keep on getting better and better. It’s been a while since I last went to a gig where a band brought out so many emotions through their music. In a nutshell, Elbow were simply mesmerising tonight.