What is it about bands from Northern Britain, and particularly Manchester, that seems to resonate so strongly with Irish audiences? Maybe it’s the diaspora effect, or the cultural similarities, but acts from that part of the world are held in a particular reverence here. The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Joy Division and New Order all lit up of various parts of drab ’80s Ireland as we looked for alternative youth culture across the water where so many Irish had made their homes. The lad with an iManc t-shirt outside the Marquee showed the love for our English neighbour’s music is still strong.
Elbow are different though. They are a band that have always been more orchestral than the meat and potato of guitar, bass and drum combo. No instrument is greater than the sum of its parts. There are no memorable guitar riffs or bass-lines, just a beautiful unified sound with each member playing within, rather than around the music.
Guy Garvey is the kind of front man that can hold a crowd in his sway without being particularly demonstrative. Looking remarkably trim he conversed between songs and soaked of every last drip of emotion emanating from around the arena. He appeared to thrive on it and was clearly enjoying himself. New material was received well with a large amount of revelry greeting ‘My Sad Captains’ from their latest LP.
New York Morning, one of the band’s finest creations, was quietly glorious with Garvey’s soft, yet masterful voice growing into the song, while Grounds For Divorce brought the audience into it – with them singing the harmonies back to Garvey at his prompting.
The moment everyone was waiting for finally arrived with the last song, On A Day Like This. The reaction confirmed that most were here to witness this song being played live. They may just dip into the Elbow back catalog after the slow burning build up to this wonderful crescendo.
One bugbear was that they didn’t play one of their most illuminating songs of recent times, Neat Little Rows from 2011’s ‘Build a Rocket Boys’ but Lippy Kids from that record is transformed live and taken to a new dimension.
This was a night when Elbow will have left their more hardened fans very pleased, as the songs were often pulled from the depths of their work rather than needlessly trying to flog the new record. Those with little more interest than the hits will have enjoyed it too. No matter what, they will have left with their souls washed.