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Last month, Manchester favourites Elbow pleased their fans with the release of a new EP called ‘Lost Worker Bee’. The release came as somewhat of a surprise, as the band members have been busy of late with a handful of festival appearances (including Kendal Calling 2015) as well as their own “various solo projects and collaborative endeavours”, which include frontman Guy Garvey’s record label venture Snug Platters and his new BBC 6 Music series ‘Music Box with Guy Garvey’. Of the ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP, Garvey says “we just felt we really wanted to get something away to tide fans over until the next album. We’ve always loved the EP as a format and we’ve enjoyed making this one so much I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another before long.”
The four brand new songs on the EP are all set in Elbow’s hometown of Manchester. Garvey elaborates, “Manchester’s symbol has been the worker bee for hundreds of years and the lead track is about finding love far away from home.” Our own editor Mary featured the video for the eponymous and altogether charming ‘Lost Worker Bee’ just after the EP’s release.
The rhythmic complexity of ‘And It Snowed’ is a trademark of Elbow’s compositional style, expressed here in an asymmetrical meter that highlights the crystalline keyboard melody. The lyrics are a bit abstract, but the lines “you’ve done your leaving / livid in your splendour and alone / I kiss the stillness” seem to harken back to the lost romance theme of Elbow’s 2014 album ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, which dealt with Garvey’s split from his longtime partner.
In the captivating ‘Roll Call’, Garvey recycles a lyric, “streets alive with one man shows”, from ‘My Sad Captains’, a popular tune from ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’. He prefaces it with a bit of a wink and nod, warning that “I’m not digging deep tonight”, but in truth, his lyrics are as rife with evocative imagery as ever, and the vocal harmonies supplied by his bandmates in this chorus are just as rich and pleasantly unexpected.
Similarly, the EP’s final track ‘Usually Bright’ feels like an extension of Elbow’s previous album, with simple poetic lines alluding to separation as “the saddest journey ever made”. The spare musical accompaniment, which perhaps coincidentally sounds a bit like an old-fashioned music box, allows Garvey’s poignantly simple lyrics to make their full nostalgic impact, marking a clear delineation between the past and the potential of the future.
Elbow’s ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP is out now on Polydor. Elbow are scheduled to play the On Blackheath Festival in London on the 12th of September. Our full catalogue of previous Elbow coverage is right back this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 27th July 2015 at 6:00 pm
Manchester band Elbow released a new four-track EP last Friday called ‘Lost Worker Bee’, and the title track now has its own promo video. In one of the strangest videos I’ve ever seen, the promo’s protagonist travels around and discovers a series of unique individuals, all of whom have unusual occupations, unusual meaning they don’t sit at a desk in front of a computer. Or they’re just enjoying life. But I think that’s the whole point of the video: life is happening all around us, if you just open your eyes. Watch the video below.
All past coverage on TGTF on Elbow is this way.
Mancunian five-piece Elbow have just announced short residencies in both London and Manchester for the early part of 2015. Explaining the idea behind the shows, frontman Guy Garvey says “We enjoyed our theatre tour of the States and Canada this summer so much that we decided to do some at home. There is something magic about the history of old theatres and doing residencies in these lovely buildings means we can be playful with the staging.” (If you missed it back in May, you can read about one of those North American shows in this previous live review from DC.)
In contrast to Elbow’s usual festival and stadium shows in the UK, these more intimate shows will allow the band to highlight rarely played songs from their back catalogue alongside familiar fan favourites. Tickets for the following sure-to-sell-out appearances go on sale Friday the 5th of September at 9 AM.
Thursday 5th February 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Friday 6th February 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Saturday 7th February 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Tuesday 10th February 2015 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Wednesday 11th February 2015 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 12th February 2015 – London Hammersmith Apollo
By Mary Chang
on Saturday, 28th June 2014 at 4:00 pm
Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.
Now appearing to be a headline stage stalwart at UK music festivals, Manchester’s Elbow didn’t disappoint Pyramid Stage punters Friday night. Here’s their performance of ‘New York Morning’, with singer Guy Garvey leading a massive hand wave through the crowd.
For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.
Header photo by Cheryl Demas
Living as I do in a bit of a musical vortex, I often have to travel long distances to see bands and artists I love. It’s sometimes difficult to choose which shows are most worth the time and expense, but in the case of Elbow, my decision was easy. They’ve been on my list since I fell in love with their 2008 Mercury Prize-winning album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ several years ago, and they proved their travel-worthiness once again last Sunday at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I got to attend the show with one of my favourite partners in crime, fellow TGTF contributor Cheryl Demas!)
This show was the first night of Elbow’s North American tour and also my first experience with their guest act, American singer/songwriter John Grant. I did a bit of homework on Grant before Sunday’s show, and I was drawn in when I discovered that his 2010 debut album ‘Queen of Denmark’ was recorded with band members from Midlake, who I had the pleasure of seeing in DC last month (read that review here). Grant recorded his second album, the highly acclaimed ‘Pale Green Ghosts’, in his adopted home of Reykjavik, Iceland, and he was accompanied on stage Sunday night by Icelandic guitarist Pétur Hallgrimsson, who also appeared on that record.
I’ll admit that I was initially repelled by the bleak, cheerless tone of Grant’s lyrics, which seemed an odd contrast to the effusive romanticism of Elbow lyricist Guy Garvey. Only the hypnotic timbre of Grant’s baritone made the brutal songs ‘You Don’t Have To’ and ‘Where Dreams Go to Die’ even remotely palatable. But there were moments of sardonic humour, in the quirky ‘Sigourney Weaver’ and the almost upbeat ‘GMF’ for example, that kept the set from becoming completely mired in its own misery. By the time Grant closed with the defiantly spirited ‘Queen of Denmark’, energy in the audience was building in anticipation of the headline act.
After the emotionally and musically ponderous opening set, it was refreshing to hear the warm instrumental strains of ‘This Blue World’ as Elbow took the stage. They wasted no time highlighting their exquisite new album ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, proceeding directly into ‘Charge’, then touching on ‘Fly Boy Blue/Lunette’ and ‘Real Life’ early in the set. Before singing ‘New York Morning’, Garvey took a special moment to acknowledge Lois and Dennis, the legendary New York music fans who appeared in the recent video for the song and who were seated in the guest balcony for this show.
I was particularly keen to hear the new songs in live arrangement, as the studio recordings are so large and richly textured. The five regular band members were accompanied in this streamlined setup by only two string players and no live brass, but they did apparently use a backing track to fill in the sound. Aside from a few opening night glitches and miscues, the arrangements were fairly true to Elbow’s high standard form; especially so in the favourable acoustics of the 9:30 Club. From our vantage point at the barrier, Cheryl and I had an especially nice view of guitarist Mark Potter, and I spent a good portion of the show ogling his array of instruments.
Because I spent my weekend literally “cramming commitments like cats in a sack”, I was happy to hear my personal favourite Elbow tune ‘The Bones of You’ early in the set list. The band saved its other old favourite songs for later in the show, including ‘Scattered Black And Whites’, which they kindly dedicated to an Irish superfan called Gareth, who was desperate to hear it but had evidently been asleep in the back until that point in the show. (See what I did there?) When the song was introduced, Gareth enthusiastically charged his way to the stage and proceeded to view the performance through the lens of his camera phone, but the sheer beauty of the song left us no choice but to share in his ebullient joy.
The end of the set proper emulated a large scale emotional crescendo, modulating from the elegantly understated ‘Mirrorball’ through the evolutionary progression of ‘The Birds’ to the heavy pounding rhythm of ‘Grounds for Divorce’ before resolving to the poignant and bittersweet beauty of ‘My Sad Captains’. It was a masterfully effective sequence, designed to leave us wanting more and achieving the effect in spectacular fashion.
The all-but-obligatory encore naturally included an element of audience participation, and the 9:30 Club crowd happily obliged Garvey’s requests to join him in echoing the ubiquitous “Build a rocket boys!” line from ‘Lippy Kids’ and harmonising the glorious ending to ‘One Day Like This’. We may not get another night like this with Elbow for quite some time, but those lovely harmonies will undoubtedly see us right until the next occasion.
Photo by Cheryl Demas
Photo by Cheryl Demas
After the cut: Elbow’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Elbow with John Grant at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 11th May 2014
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 17th January 2014 at 6:00 pm
Mancunians Elbow have revealed the first song from their forthcoming album out on the 3rd of March, ‘The Take Off and Landing of Everything’. Interesting title, eh? The song has an interesting title too: ‘Fly Boy Blue / Lunette’. Watch the promo for it below.
Elbow are on tour in the UK in April.