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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.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 7th October 2013 at 9:00 am
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Manchester’s Elbow, but they’ve just given word a couple days ago that they’ll be heading out on a headline tour of the UK in April 2014. Tickets are on sale now.
The band’s sixth album, currently titled ‘All at Once’, will be released on the 3rd of March 2014.
Saturday 5th April 2013 – Birmingham LG Arena
Sunday 6th April 2013 – Glasgow Hydro
Tuesday 8th April 2013 – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Wednesday 9th April 2013 – Manchester Phones 4 U Arena
Friday 11th April 2013 – Leeds First Direct Arena
Saturday 12th April 2013 – Liverpool Echo Arena
Monday 14th April 2013 – Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Thursday 16th April 2013 – London O2
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 9th October 2012 at 9:00 am
Manchester heroes Elbow will be making the rounds on English arenas in late November into early December. In light of the London 02 gig on the 2nd of December selling out, the band have added another date at Wembley Arena for the 27th of November. Tickets are on sale now.
Monday 26th November 2012 – Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Tuesday 27th November 2012 – London Wembley Arena
Wednesday 28th November 2012 – Birmingham National Indoor Arena
Thursday 29th November 2012 – Liverpool Echo Arena
Saturday 1st December 2012 – Manchester Arena
Sunday 2nd December 2012 – London O2 (sold out)
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th June 2012 at 11:00 am
Seeing that everyone around the globe will have their eyes fixed on London next month with the start of the summer 2012 Olympics there, it’s only appropriate that we at TGTF Towers get involved with a post of our own. Regarding the musical selections for the Games, of course. Britain being Britain, the Olympic organisers were spoilt for choice on which artists to tap for this international showcasing event. Just in this week, we’re getting more names and details on what to expect ahead of the official start of the Games. (This post is mainly about the expected Olympic-related releases, but there is also word that there will be surprise gigs in London, which is another ball of wax entirely.)
The news of what we would hear to herald in the 2012 event started last winter, when in November 2011, it was revealed that Manchester’s Mercury Prize-winning and reigning (no longer) indie band Elbow (pictured above) would be providing the song ‘First Steps’ to soundtrack the BBC’s coverage of the momentous occasion. The song in its finished form made the rounds on telly in this promo advert in May to coincide with the Olympic torch relay that made its was all over the country.
For ‘First Steps’, Elbow decided to use a recorded choir vocal instead of Guy Garvey’s, presumably to make it more about the public and less about Elbow. In his typical self-deprecating style, Garvey has said of their contribution, “for our music to be sound-tracking it, there was a big feeling of responsibility but also we’re just dead proud to be doing it. And strange as well with none of us really being athletic.”
On Wednesday, the BBC reported Muse would be providing the Games’ official song. Called ‘Survival’, it’s already proving to be as polarising as the strange dubstep-infused trailer they released as a teaser for their next album, ‘The 2nd Law’. While there is no argument that there is an incredible amount of tradition, pomp and circumstance surrounding the XXX Olympiad, what strikes you first about this this new song ‘Survival’ is how un-Muse it is. To me, it sounds like they are trying far too hard to sound like a 21st century Queen, emphasising on making a more bombastic sound that embraces the theatrical instead of either going for something poppy, which might make it all the more enjoyable for the masses, or staying true to the Muse vision.
But beyond what we have heard in full from Elbow and Muse are all the other question marks: what are the contributions from other artists going to sound like? The BBC also let loose on Wednesday that special singles from Elton John vs. Pnau, Dizzee Rascal, the Chemical Brothers and Delphic will also be released during July and August.
Let us first consider the first of these. Pnau is an Australian dance duo whose song ‘Sad’ “includes elements from a number of Elton John original sound recordings including ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, ‘Crazy Water’ and ‘Curtains’ to name but a few”. Before hearing it, I thought well, this could go either way: it could be a horrible, ill-advised sampling experiment gone wrong, or it could be something refreshingly new and different. Then I found the official video. What is this? It reminds me of Empire of the Sun in a way, and not in a good way. In any event, remember them, because you can expect Pnau to become a household name; how they (or their management) was able to score Olympic promotion just in time for the release of their debut album is quite a marketing coup.
Dizzee Rascal needs no introduction. He’s been making the rounds at many summer festivals, including both Evolution and Beach Break Live that we’ve managed to cover. As you might have already expected, Dizzee surely knew he was going to have this honour long ago, as the below ‘Your Britain’ video shows him talking about his childhood and having a look round at the stadium where presumably he will be performing on opening night. I think it’s safe to say we can expect a high-octane, bounce-a-minute stonker from him that will get people bopping all over the world.
Then we are left with the Chemical Brothers and Delphic. This is where we only guess what will happen, which is rather interesting because the two bands, while both dance-oriented and from Manchester, are at opposite sides of the career spectrum. Neither band has released anything since their last albums in 2010: ‘Further’, the Chems’ seventh, and ‘Acolyte’, the debut for Delphic. While there has been a long time of incubation, shall we say, since we last heard anything new from either of them, they have probably only had the last 6 to 8 months, at most, to think about how they want to be remembered with the memory of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Chemical Brothers have not talked publicly about their involvement, but Delphic excitedly Tweeted “We cant [sic] tell you how much it means to be involved with a world spectacle so great it only comes around every 4 years. this time on our patch”, which says to me not only have they given this a great deal of thought, but they also considered the gravity of the situation and what it means when the eyes of the world (or, perhaps the ears are better suited in this case) are put squarely on you.
We here at TGTF will be looking forward to the coming weeks for word on all these official releases. This is definitely one Olympics where the excitement regarding the music specially made for the event equals or exceeds the excitement for the actual sport. Reuters has reported the remaining releases are scheduled to drop as follows: Elton John vs. Pnau on 16 July, Delphic on 23 July, Chemical Brothers on 30 July and Dizzee Rascal on 6 August. The Muse single ‘Survival’ is available for purchase now.