REPORTER Andrew Trendell went to see Elbow kick off their UK tour in Nottingham.
“WHEN I think of Nottingham...” smiles a humble but confident Guy Garvey, “I think of lace, bicycles and Robin Hood...which leads me to think of Kevin Costner...which leads me to think of Bryan Adams.”
The first rule of Nottingham is, you do not talk about Kevin Costner or Bryan Adams. “That’s right,” laughs Garvey, “Boo every time I mention Costner or Adams.”
If there’s one thing that comes naturally to Guy Garvey, it’s controlling a huge crowd. Tonight, as Elbow kick off their final run of the UK before they head back to the drawing board, these five Manc lads done good cherry-pick the gems from their astounding 21-year career that carried them from dark oscurity to arena-filling champions. They’re a band to be treasured.
It’s good to see a well-moneyed Elbow with the backing they deserve. Not only do they now boast a dazzling stage show but they stand proudly in dapper suits (guitarist Mark Potter now even resembles a svelt middle-aged Olly Murs).
“We’re terrified,” admits Garvey. “We’ve never played this song in front of anyone before,” before launching into new song Charge – a rumbling tune that blends the anthemic scale of their recent efforts with the subtle menace of their earlier work. It’s a promising glimpse of what tomorrow could bring. They needn’t have been afraid.
Although their set is heavy on their recent mass-selling recrds, the sheer beauty and heart-ache of Fugitive Motel and the proto-stadium-classic of Grace Under Pressure from Elbow’s criminally under-appreciated Cast of Thousands shine as blinding highlights.
As the triumphant notes of new national anthem, One Day Like this ring out, it strikes me that was barely a moment this evening when the entire arena weren’t ecstatically swaying with arms aloft. In 16 songs and 90 minutes, Elbow cement their standing as people’s champions with a performance that’s flawless from start to finish.
“We’re taking a gap year,” says Garvey, to the sound of waves of disappointment. Perhaps it’s for the best. They’ve soundtracked every victory in British culture in the last four years – even the Olympics. Time away can only give us the chance to miss and appreciate Elbow’s true status as national treasures.
By Andrew Trendell