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…and the best non-NME Awards show at Porchester Hall, London (February 12)

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This is the new, classier Elbow,” announces Guy Garvey, surveying his surroundings. We’re at the Porchester Hall – an opulent west London ballroom opened in the reign of George V – to witness his band’s live return, and Manchester’s favourite euphoric miserablists are on mesmeric form.

Garvey is, quite simply, one of the greatest, most consistent songwriters this fair isle’s ever produced – and tonight’s set is one deceptively dark indie-pop starburst after another. In among the immaculate classics – ‘Switching Off’, ‘Red’, ‘Newborn’ – it’s the new songs from forthcoming fourth LP ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ that impress the most. ‘Grounds For Divorce’ is a hulking, gargantuan rock departure, while the shimmering, swooping orchestral-tinged ‘One Day Like This’ sees Garvey lead the crowd through a gospel-style singalong that belies the fact it’s the first time it’s been played live. It’s the chuggingly euphoric ‘The Loneliness Of

A Tower Crane Driver’ that truly makes the case for ‘…Kid’ being Elbow’s career best, however – sounding like the monster in Cloverfield having a moment of clarity and bursting into tears after realising how much devastation it’s caused.

In truth, tonight there’s nothing new or classier about Elbow – they still look like portly, drunken binmen. No, there’s just a set of spellbinding songs that keep them stratospheres above the majority of modern British rock groups.

Rick Martin

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