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(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2758: Elbow

 
By on Friday, 15th December 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Mancunian alt-rock stalwarts Elbow have just unveiled a new video for their cover of The Beatles tune ‘Golden Slumbers’, which, if you’re on the UK side of the pond, you might already have heard in the recent John Lewis Christmas advert. Despite its obvious commercial angle, the video treatment in this promo gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the advert, while somehow managing not to dispel any of its cleverly-crafted holiday magic.

‘Golden Slumbers’ features on the Northern group’s new double-LP compilation ‘The Best Of’, which also contains a collection of the Manchester band’s favourite tracks from across their 20-year history. Outfitted as a bonus track on the record, ‘Golden Slumbers’ fits beautifully into Guy Garvey’s warm tenor voice, and Elbow’s rendition is a warm and comforting addition to the holiday canon.

Elbow are currently taking a holiday break from their extensive tour in support of 2017 LP ‘Little Fictions’, which was released back in February. A full listing of Elbow’s 2018 live dates can be found on their official Web site. Editor Mary’s review of their recent Washington, D.C. show is right back here, and our full previous coverage of Elbow is collected through here.

 

Live Review: Elbow with C Duncan at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 4th November 2017

 
By on Monday, 6th November 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Elder statesmen of rock Elbow are no strangers to DC, reliably appearing in the Nation’s Capital whenever they decide to do a tour on this side of the pond. There are many reasons for their love for Washington, some more literal if you ever get the chance to ask them personally, which I encourage you to do so, as they are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet. At their sold out show here Saturday night, Guy Garvey’s quip that the reason why the city got its name is because the 9:30 Club is where musicians do their washing – laundering clothes to us Americans – isn’t wrong either. The venue has become legendary among bands for their in-house washing machine, along with their massive hospitality efforts towards those who grace their stage. 9:30-branded chocolate cupcakes, anyone?

I’ve seen Elbow a couple of times now, and ‘reliable’ is a good word to describe their live show. ‘Heartwarming’ is another good adjective for them, on which I’ll expand on later. First, I would like to point out their admirable efforts to prevent the all too frequent scourge at shows: the loud and impolite conversations that take place during support sets. In addition to this sign placed prominently near the entrance of the venue, Guy Garvey introduced C Duncan himself, appealing passionately to the audience to be quiet and pay attention during his set. No doubt Garvey remembers with much gratitude when fellow Mancunians Doves decided to take a chance, bringing along his then-unknown band to the very same venue 15 years ago.

Except to those like us here on TGTF who keep a watchful eye on things like the Mercury Prize back in the UK, C Duncan is a relative unknown here in North America at the moment. Hopefully, this support slot with Elbow will do much to change that. As you’ll read in my interview feature with him, Duncan has sensed that Elbow fans are a special breed of music fan, the kind who tend to be more open-minded about new sounds than most. If this show had been back in Britain, we would have seen him with a full band, but due to prohibitive visa costs (thanks, powers that be in America), he performed alone on the big 9:30 stage.

C Duncan Washington 2017 1

C Duncan offered up songs from his Mercury-fêted 2015 debut album ‘Architect’ and last year’s electro-driven ‘The Midnight Sun’ and with the aplomb of a seasoned performer. It’s hard to believe that a few years ago, the prospect of having to bring his complex constructions to the stage seemed daunting to him. The beautiful ‘Say’, the opening track on ‘Architect’, was a clear standout, Duncan’s wispy vocals and elegantly understated, yet superbly catchy backing proving to be a beautiful match. The icy, lush electronic orchestration of ‘Wanted to Want It Too’ – a simple, yet evocative study in longing – closed his all-too-short set. To catch up on our past coverage of C Duncan here on TGTF, head here.

C Duncan Washington 2017 2

What can be said about Elbow that hasn’t been already written? Guy Garvey is the consummate frontman: roly poly like a teddy bear and disarmingly funny, he’s the uncle who doesn’t think twice about discussing the merits of a 9:30 G&T and asking punters to stumble singing along to songs they might not know the lyrics to. And at the same show. Does this have anything to do with him and his band being from Manchester? The worker bee tattoo emblazoned on the inside of this forearm, likely inked following the Manchester Arena terror attack in May, was a silent affirmation of the love for his city.

Elbow Washington 2017 1

It’s the little things like the tattoo and Garvey’s introduction of C Duncan, they’re proof of how genuine Elbow are. So was Garvey’s earnest acknowledgment of Dennis and Lois, a music-loving couple who have been together for decades and the stars of their 2014 video for ‘New York Morning’ who just so happened to be next to me during the show. He dedicated ‘Mirrorball’ from 2008’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ to them and their love, as warm smiles spread from the stage and through the entire venue. As its title suggests, ‘Magnificent (She Says)’, the first single to their most recent album ‘Little Fictions’, was indeed magnificent. Songs that are stirring, soaring and ever tugging at the heartstrings: that’s what Elbow do best. And their fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

Elbow’s North American tour with C Duncan as support rolls on to Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall tonight. The tour will continue until the 18th of November, when they hit Mexico City.

Elbow Washington 2017 2

After the cut: C Duncan and Elbow’s set lists from the night.
Continue reading Live Review: Elbow with C Duncan at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 4th November 2017

 

Video of the Moment #2384: Elbow

 
By on Tuesday, 20th June 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Manchester stalwarts Elbow released their seventh studio album ‘Little Fictions’, their first without drummer Richard Jupp. Their latest music video isn’t so much a ‘normal’ music video, but a documentary of music lovers on Record Store Day 2017 talking about how important music is to their lives. The whole thing is soundtracked by album cut ‘It’s All Disco’. Watch the new video below. To read more of our pretty big archive on Elbow here on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX19fx6PkGI[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Elbow – Little Fictions

 
By on Friday, 10th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Little Fictions coverWe’re told never to judge a book by its cover, but we can sometimes get a good idea of its content simply by reading the title. Such is the case for albums of music as well. Case in point, the last two LPs from Manchester alt-rock quartet Elbow. Their 2014 studio effort was titled ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, which very appropriately foreshadowed the general grandiosity and broadly outward-looking perspective of the songs it contained. By contrast, the title of Elbow’s new LP ‘Little Fictions’ implies a more introspective and self-conscious songwriting approach.

Opening track ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ served as a striking introduction to the album back in December of last year. Its mesmerising guitar riff and uptempo skipping rhythm in the verses are punctuated by a swelling string arrangement and forceful piano chords in the chorus. Garvey’s warm tenor is light and flexible throughout, growing almost tangibly in strength as he sings of his character’s (and his own) powerful optimism: “It’s all gonna be magnificent, she says”. But as it turns out, the magnificence of this grand gesture isn’t quite enough to sustain the album’s momentum.

Lyrically, the focus of ‘Little Fictions’ is somewhat myopic, as might be expected from a lyricist who was at the time of writing consumed by falling in love. Garvey’s recent foray into matrimony is a central theme of the album, and it has inspired some characteristically poignant lyrics, including the sensual chorus of ‘Gentle Storm’ (“gentle storm / rage my way / fall in love with me”) and the lovely small-scale vignette ‘Montparnasse’ (“don’t talk like we were stuck in a lift / why would I be missing you so violently?”).

Garvey does glance up past the end of his own nose on a couple of occasions. The murky ‘K2’ ostensibly refers to the political isolationism of Brexit (“hands up if you’ve never seen the sea / I’m from a land with an island status / makes us think that everyone hates us”). And mid-album track ‘All Disco’ takes a good-natured and self-depracating perspective on songwriting itself, with the gentle admonition, “what does it prove if you’d die for a tune / it’s really all disco”. Indeed, ’All Disco’ is this album’s true moment of brilliance, its bright, kaleidoscopic musical arrangement centered around Mark Potter’s electric guitar and backed by a lush full choir of voices.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/MUOsztgBE-I[/youtube]

After ‘All Disco’, the album takes a self-described “dip in tempo” with ‘Head for Supplies’. Mark Potter’s guitar melody is again pervasive, but the uneven gait of the vocal melody in the verses is awkward in a way that is unusual for the poetically-gifted Garvey. The energy picks up a bit with ‘Firebrand & Angel’, until the verbosity of the repeated lyrics in its extended coda weigh it down again.

The album’s press release describes eponymous track ‘Little Fictions’ as characteristic of the album as a whole, “an eight-minute piece that is epic without at any point feeling excessive”. To my ears, the track does seem overly indulgent, but perhaps necessarily so, as the band struggles to define a cohesive direction in the midst of its members’ diverging musical interests. (Since ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, Garvey has released a solo album, Mark Potter has undertaken a separate blues band project, and Craig Potter has worked on albums for Steve Mason and Stornoway.)

The album closes with ‘Kindling’, where Garvey’s evocative poetic imagery makes a triumphant final appearance in warmly emotional lyrics like “I can still taste the heat of the sun on her skin in my arms”. The song fades out rather abruptly to a spontaneous clip of the band self-critiquing their take, and it’s this final impression that seems to sum up ‘Little Fictions’ most appropriately.

Elbow’s sudden self-consciousness might be attributed in part to the absence of former drummer Richard Jupp, whose subtle dexterity and dynamic sensitivity have been acknowledged by the band as impossible to replace. The remaining members have responded with a circling-the-wagons-style collaborative approach to the songwriting on this album which has filled the gap admirably well. But it has also diluted the individual strengths in the group, namely Garvey’s gift for rich vocal melody, Mark Potter’s vibrant lead guitar, Craig Potter’s sonic diversity on keys and at the production helm, and the organic momentum of Pete Turner’s bass grooves.

None of this is to say that ‘Little Fictions’ is a bad album. I’m not sure Elbow are capable of making a bad album. But neither is this a tour de force in the manner of ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ or a pièce de résistance à la ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’. I’m inclined to say that ‘Little Fictions’ is a transitional album, one that gives precious little indication where the veteran Mancunians might turn next.

7.5/10

Elbow’s seventh studio album ‘Little Fictions’ is out now via Polydor/Concord. TGTF’s extensive back catalogue of Elbow coverage is right back here.

 

Video of the Moment #2277: Elbow

 
By on Tuesday, 31st January 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Incredibly, Manchester alt-rock veterans Elbow will be releasing their seventh studio album at the end of this week. ‘Little Fictions’ will be available starting Friday from Fiction Records. Just ahead of the release of the new LP to the wild, they’ve revealed a promo video for ‘Gentle Storm’, starring frontman Guy Garvey, whose friendly, avuncular face morphs into a variety of the band’s friends, including Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

This video was directed by Kevin Godley (of Godley and Creme fame), who’s been getting around lately. Godley also directed Tom Chaplin‘s claustrophobic promo for ‘Still Waiting’, which coincidentally also features a monochromatic color palette. Garvey has explained that the song reminded him of Godley and Creme’s ‘Cry’, so he decided to take a chance and ask Godley if he would be keen on directing their newest video. Luckily for Elbow, he agreed, and you can watch the fruit of their labour below. Check out this link to get to all of TGTF’s past coverage on the Mancunians.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONQ25RW585w[/youtube]

 

(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2257: Elbow

 
By on Friday, 23rd December 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Manchester’s alt-rock group Elbow will be releasing their seventh studio album ‘Little Fictions’, which is due for release in the early part of 2017. Described by guitarist Mark Potter as “the song people have been waiting for us to write”, ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ is the first single from ‘Little Fictions’; Carrie reviewed it for us back here. Now ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ has its own music video.

While I have to admit the band’s material hasn’t really spoke to me in recent years, the visuals in the promo are stunning and seem appropriate for this holiday. Filmed in the Asian countryside, the simple life of farmers and their families is celebrated. They don’t have a lot of money or possessions, but what they do have is love and friends in spades. And the hope that the sun will indeed rise the next morning. It’s a reminder that hope is real and we need to keep our faith in it, even during these tough times. Watch the video for ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ below. You can buy ‘Little Fictions’ for your very own on the 3rd of February 2017, when it will be available from Polydor/Concord. To read more on Elbow on TGTF, go here.

Happy holidays to all! We’ll see you back here in the new year.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQl5KYiiFDI[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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