So, how do you deal with the current economic gloom in the UK? “Make Guy Garvey Priminister” that’s how. Well at least that’s what the gentleman in front of me at last night’s Elbow gig believed. And do you know something? He could have something there.
It was with a little trepidation that I made the cold bus ride to the O2, in north Greenwich. Not because of the headline act but because it was at the O2. The big, atmosphere-free O2. It’s one of those venues you either love or hate. There is no in-between and the thought of visiting it on a Sunday and standing with people, full from their late Sunday roasts, and who may struggle to rise to the occasion filled me with a little dread.
How wrong I was. How very, very wrong I was.
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The gig started a little slowly. It was cold outside and the audience seemed a little frosty but then something quite magical happened. I had presumed that the audience was going to be full of “The Seldom Seen Kid” and “Build a Rocket Boy” fans. Both fantastic albums but people forget that there had been three studio albums beforehand. So when the band played the 2005 release “Leaders of the Free World” I was shocked to see such an incredible response.
The band spotted this. Garvey started with the gags between songs and the band seemed visibly lifted. And it just got better and better.
“Grounds for Divorce” was treated to a little audience participation. “Left side sing it” shouted Garvey …“Now the right”. This continued until Garvey shouted “someone’s off key”. By the end he literally had 10 people at the furthest part of the venue singing. True showmanship and the song almost didn’t need Garvey’s vocals as the crowd treated it to a little “Elbow karaoke”.
It had been well publicised that this would be the bands last gig for a while. Garvey confirmed this with a few numbers to go and the comment was “booed”. The band will be missed. After a Glastonbury free year they would surely have been a sure thing for a return to the main stage. But there was a new song played and this is surely a sign that the band will be back (and not splitting as some of the national press speculated).
And so on to the final number. “One Day Like This” was again given the karaoke treatment and was still being sung by the crowd long after the band disappeared.
Elbow you will be missed. Don’t stay away too long. And O2, i like you a little more this morning.
Highlights: Leaders of the Free World, Grounds for Divorce
Rating: 4.5 out of 5