October 24, 2008
Mercury winners bask in their long-overdue recognition. Roundhouse, London (October 11)
While Guy Garvey is at pains to remind us all that this gig sold out before his band’s Mercury Prize triumph, their current UK tour is completely coloured by it, giving the dates the air of one long party. It’s a party featuring the most melancholy soundtrack imaginable, sure, but a party nonetheless.
The first of three shows at the Roundhouse features toasts to the crowd from the stage, several exuberant singalongs and frequent references by a clearly chuffed-as-chips Garvey to the group’s recent good fortune.
You can’t imagine anyone who would begrudge the Bury five-piece getting their dues (especially not Garvey’s mum, looking on proudly from the balcony), and it’s clear they are now loved as one of Britain’s most durable, inspiring groups. Elbow and their fans manage to create an air of intimacy that leads to Garvey telling NME that “it felt like we were playing in my front room!” Wembley Arena is booked for next year, but you feel they’ll be able to retain this warmth when they step up for those traditionally chillier gigs.
Tonight Elbow, backed by a four-strong string section, concentrate in the main on the record that has brought them the overdue acclaim and attention – their self-produced fourth album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’. Guitarist Mark Potter says simply, “That’s the album that’s got most of our best songs on it. We’re at the stage now where we’d rather play the songs we know are great songs than the ones we think people will want to hear.” ‘The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver’, the haunting tune they chose to perform at the Mercury ceremony, is awesome in its spine-tingling intensity, while former single ‘Grounds For Divorce’ is a sure-footed stomper and big audience favourite.
However, the highlight is the gloriously uplifting ‘One Day Like This’, which closes the main set as balloons and glitter rain down on the crowd. In some hands this might be cheesy, but here it only adds to the air of celebration. What a party. What a band. What a relief to finally see Elbow reaping the rewards they deserve.
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