Elbow at the Showbox, Seattle | 5 May 2008
Elbow is a band that tallies much more than the sum of it’s parts. Each instrument builds on the other to create a complex beautiful and at times stunning sound. The thing I remember most about Monday night’s show was how drop dead amazing it sounded. I get the feeling that Elbow is a band of audiophiles, and I for one thank them for their attention to the detail. They’ve augmented their line up with two violinists that double as back up singers to fill out the sound and even set up a Rush-like glass wall between the drummer and rest of the band so that the drums don’t bleed into the other instruments. Opening the show with Starlings from the new album The Seldom Seen Kid, each member came onto the stage with a trumpet. It was an impressive way to start things off, shocking us with the entire band contributing to the short trumpet blasts of the song.
And it really only got better from their, the songs, mostly from their last two albums, came in rapid succession only briefly and sometimes not so briefly interrupted by frontman Guy Garvey’s between song conversations with the audience. Garvey is a talker, but he’s got such teddy bear like demeanor, and comes across as a quite likable bloke. He lead a number of toasts, responded to I love you’s from the crowd with I love you too, and somehow got us to sing Louie, Louie to the band so they would come out for their encore. I don’t think Garvey had to work very hard to win us over though, people there last night were already big fans. It was cool to hear the audience over power Garvey on the chorus of Forget Myself, and provide the entire chorus for One Day Like This.
I was singing along to Leaders of the Free World and Newborn just like everybody else, but the highlight of the night for me was The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver. Not one of their more upbeat songs, it’s a moody number that has an eerie, noirish feel that reminds me of something from the Peter Thomas Sound Orchester. The rendition didn’t have the deep horn blasts but Mark Potter’s guitar was more than adequate, and combined with big booming drums and violins mad for 5 minutes of moody bliss. Elbow has really taken their live show to another level from previous performances I’ve seen. It’s not often a band can pull off an intricate sound, get the audience to sing choruses with abandon, and have a front man that is as engaging between songs as he is when singing them. Cheers!
mp3: Elbow – The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver (buy The Seldom Seen Kid)
mp3: Peter Thomas Sound Orchester – Apartmenthouse (ignore the beginning, it’s the middle part)
mp3: Peter Thomas Sound Orchester – Bolero on the Moon Rocks (used in Pulp’s This is Hardcore)